If there is one thing that hermit crabs are famous for it is their shells. They have to carry around an abandoned shell of another animal’s to protect their soft abdomens. They also carry around a shell to prevent their bodies from drying out.
Born In The Ocean
They are born in the ocean. This is where they find their first shell, underwater in a vacated sea snails shell. When the crab matures enough to make its way on shore it will inhabit a new shell. Each time the crab molts it will have to find new and bigger shells to occupy.
Things To Consider When Picking Out Shells
It is easy as a crab owner to get carried away and want your crab to like the shells you want him to like but it is ultimately the crab who picks in the end. There are a few factors to take into consideration when it comes to shells.
First off you want to make sure that the hermit crab shell is big enough to house his body. With this in mind you also need to make sure that it isn’t too big that he can’t store water in it. The size of the opening is another factor you have to take into consideration.
Big Enough Yet Small Enough
It has to be big enough that your crab can get into it but small enough so that he can close it off with his large claw and second walking leg. The final factor that you should consider if that it isn’t too heavy, after all this little guy has to carry this on his back day in and day out. Hermit crabs seem to prefer the shells of marine snails and land snails.
Many owners have found that crabs are drawn to shells that have a mother of pearl surface inside them, especially at the opening. The smooth finish provides more insulation and a more comfortable fit.
Must Get Their Shells Wet
Hermit crabs have to get their shells wet in order to survive. The crabs need to store water in their shells in order to keep their gills wet so they can breathe. Storing water in their shells also keeps them hydrated. You might see your crab immerse fully into the water dish and shovel water into his shell and his mouth with his claws.
Crab have mastered the ability to move around without spilling any of the water that they store in their shells. If some of the water leaks out, the crab will have to replenish his water supply as soon as possible.
Clean and Sanitize
It is important to clean and sterilize any shell you put in your tank. You want to get rid of any bacteria that might be lurking inside. Disinfecting the shells is a simple process, just boil them in water for about 15 minutes. Let them dry completely and cool down before you put them into your tank.
Don’t Want Fighting Over Shells
One thing that you definitely want to avoid is having your crabs fight over shells. If one of your crabs thinks that his tank mate has a better hermit shell than his own then he will fight him for it. Or they might fight because their shell is damaged.
Shell fights can end up deadly, especially to the weaker crab. But an even match can also end up in both crabs losing limbs. You can help avoid any crab fight by putting at least two extra shells per crab in your habitat. Make sure that they are of appropriate sizes.