Many hermit crab owners find it much easier to provide an appropriate environment for their hermit crabs once they understand the lifestyle of hermit crabs in the wild. In the wild, hermit crabs live in tropical areas like the Caribbean. This factor influences the setup of their habitat, as it is necessary to provide the appropriate humidity and temperature levels.
It is also useful to understand how the hermit crab copes with natural predators. Hermit crabs are born in the water without a shell. As soon as they can, they seek out a discarded shell from another animal, often taking on the shell of a sea snail. This shell is carried on the hermit crab’s back and held on with its hind legs. Among other purposes, it serves to provide protection against hermit crabs predators. The hermit crab’s exoskeleton and body are surprisingly soft, and would be in great danger were it not for their borrowed shell.
In the wild, this shell protects the hermit crab from a wide range of predators. The hermit crab’s size makes it relatively low on the food chain. Hermit crabs are found near the ocean in tropic regions, where they may fall prey to larger species of crabs, seagulls, fish, cane toads, and nearly any other creature that finds it on the beach. Its hard shell, however, protects it from many animals that are incapable of cracking the shell.
Even in captivity, your crab has a desire to protect himself from harm by carrying a shell on his back. As he grows larger, he will need to move into a bigger shell, which you as a responsible crab owner must provide. Don’t be surprised if your crab won’t come out of his shell while you’re holding him, especially for the first few months. After all, you are much larger in size than anything he’s run into, and he will view you as a potentially dangerous predator until becoming accustomed to your presence.
Hermit crabs in captivity can still fall prey to predators. Some of the hermit crabs predators that are often overlooked by pet owners is their own children or other family pets, but you can minimize the risk by providing a lid that securely attaches to your tank. Hermit crabs are noted escape artists; once a crab has escaped from the cage, he can fall victim to almost anything, making it crucial to protect your pet crab from such dangers.
The fact that the hermit crab has so many natural predators affects its life in captivity in other ways, too. Over time, hermit crabs have become nocturnal, in part as a way to avoid predators that are active during the daytime. For this reason, you’ll notice increased activity from your crab after the lights go out. If you want to watch your crab after dark, you can purchase special lights that won’t interrupt his natural rhythm.
Many hermit crab owners are curious about the natural way of life of these crustaceans, which can be fascinating. By understanding your pet’s natural instincts, you can make him feel more at home, helping him lead a long and happy life.