Hermit crabs are sociable and enjoy living in groups, which leads many hermit crab owners to wonder if they could get their hermit crabs to mate. While caring for hermit crabs under ordinary conditions is easy, it’s not quite so simple to get them to breed.
Hermit crabs mating require a very specific environment that mimics their natural habitat, no easy task to replicate in an aquarium. While you are reading keep in mind that successful hermit crab breeding is extremely difficult to do.
Begin with healthy hermit crabs; sick hermit crabs won’t be in the mood to mate. Of course, you’ll need both a male and a female; it can be difficult to tell the gender of your crabs, especially while they are in their shells. Claw size and other factors can help you tell the difference between males and females, a necessary first step in the mating process.
Once you’re sure that you have both sexes, set up their environment correctly to motivate them to mate. The mating pair should be kept in their own tank, away from any other hermit crabs you own. Make them as comfortable as possible by providing plenty of food and water. Of course, you should be doing this regardless of whether you want them to breed.
Above and beyond the routine task of caring for hermit crabs, you’ll need to have an understanding of how hermit crabs breed in the wild. Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures; mating, like most of their activities, occurs at night.
Invest in a moonlight bulb, which replicates the light of the moon, to make your pets think that it is nighttime. The females typically lay eggs in the ocean, near a sandy beach. In order to replicate these conditions, create a small salt water “ocean” in the aquarium.
The water must be relatively shallow and between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some hermit crab owners have found that their crabs require a device to simulate the ocean waves before they will mate.
Once the tank has been set up to encourage mating, introduce the pair. Don’t be surprised if it takes several weeks or even months before you see hermit crabs mating. Only once they are comfortable with each other will they try to mate.
This involves a ritual dance that can be quite interesting to watch. The female hermit crab typically lays hundreds of eggs at once, because in the wild, predators kill many of the eggs before they are able to hatch. Once you see eggs in the water, it will take about four weeks for them to hatch. At this time, you can separate the mating pair.
During this time, it’s a good idea to begin gathering small hermit crab shells. As soon as the babies hatch, they will want to move into shells of their own. When they are born, the babies measure just half a centimeter (5mm) long, so you’ll need tiny shells for them to call home.
Baby hermit crabs eat brine shrimp, which can be purchased at the pet store, and stay in the water for a month or more before going onto the beach. Mating hermit crabs can be challenging, but it is also very rewarding!