Why adding hermits with your Redfoot may NOT be a goood idea

Skymall007

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Why adding hermits with your Redfoot may NOT be a good idea

Hi everyone! I am a member of the hermit crab association.

I have noticed that this topic seems to go around a bit since hermits love tortoise poop and live in a humid environment. Hermit crab care is actually far more difficult (though not advanced or anything) than many people realize. Keeping land hermit crabs with your tortoise can possibly add far more work than you realize. In case this is something you are interested in. I am writing up this care sheet. If you have any questions let me know. I will also link at the bottom to the Hermit Crab Association forum for more info.

Hermit Care

Substrate- Hermit crabs require sand castle consistency 50/50 playsand and coco-fiber substrate. They need this to molt and distress in. The sand should be mixed with dechlorinated aquarium salt water to prevent mold/fungus. Hermit crabs like to dig deep tunnels and need to dig in order to shed their exoskeleton. In that process they dig down as deep as possible so that the other crabs won't eat them due to their molting smell. Jumbo crabs can spend up to 6 months molting. It is important not to disturb them during this time. Crabs also dig down for fun and distress, especially after they first come home, The substrate, at minimum, should be twice as deep as your largest crab is tall. For small and medium crabs it should be no less then 6 inches. I would never go below that, no matter the size. Hermit crab sand and reptile sand sold at pet stores is dangerous. Buy the playsand at Homedepot (which is also cheaper).

This is my tank. Notice the deep substrate.

Humidity and Heat- Humidity should be 80% and heat 80F. Above 80F is fine but not too much. I wouldn't go above 90F. Their enclosure will need to be sprayed daily with dechlorinated water. Any water entering their enclosure must be dechlorinated first.

Water - Land hermit crabs need both fresh and aquarium salt water to survive. Table salt will kill them as will sea salt from the grocery store. It must be aquarium salt water! Do not use sponges. Sponges harbor bacteria and soak up the water which the hermits can't get to. The hermit crabs need water in both bowls that is deep enough for them to fully submerge into. Sometimes they even like to go swimming, but they need to have a way to get out of the water. Some bowls come with steps built in, some people make steps. They need easy access to get out so they don't drown.

Notice the steps leading into this safe hermit water bowl

Friends- Despite their name hermit crabs are social. You must keep at least two hermit crabs to keep them from getting lonely. They also need a species buddy, I keep two different species which means that I need at least four crabs.

Shells- Hermit crabs need to have plenty of shells to chose from or else they can get into shell fights and kill each other. As hermits grow they change shells. Never force a hermit out of their shell, some won't change for a long time. Shells should be natural only. Painted shells are actually toxic to the crab. If you have a crab in a painted shell, let them stay in it as long as they want, once they switch out remove the shell. At least three shells per crab should be offered. I keep lots of shells in all different sizes because I am terrible at remembering which species like what. I keep them in a shower caddy so that they are all together and don't get dirty. The hermits love the shell shop. Boil the shells in de-chlorinated water for 10 min and then let them cool down before placing them into the enclosure. Same with hides and such.

Climbing and Escaping- If there is a way out of your tank they will find it. The correct setup for a hermit is stimulating and fun for them. Hermit crabs are also known as tree crabs because in the wild they climb up the trees. Have plenty of climbing equipment. My enclosure has many hides, one moss pit, ladders, and perches for them. They also enjoy walking upside down on the mesh roof part of the enclosure.

Hides- Hermit crabs love to have lots of different hides. A moss pit is a popular thing in my tank. They like to feel safe. Having fake plants will also help them feel safe.

This HCA member has lots of hides and climbing areas for their hermits.

Food- Hermit crabs eat fresh fruits, veggies, and also meat. They are scavengers and omnivores. The left over fruits and veggies from your tortoise are great for them, but they also need meat and tend to have favorite snacks. I give mine fish, crab, shrimp, pre-killed snails, and chicken. Don't give them salted or buttered food. Mine LOVE popcorn (unsalted and unbuttered) and plain organic peanut butter (they can't have preservatives). You will find you can buy just a single crab leg for them at the grocery store for less than a dollar. Give them variety. If you don't give them what they need, they can go after each other.

Behavior- Hermit crabs are very social with each other and when properly taken care of can be very active. Mine are like having a TV. They tend to be more active at night because they are nocturnal, but they each have their own personality. I have crabs that hardly sleep, they just nap, and are up doing things all day and all night. I have others that I hardly see. It depends on the individual crab and it depends on their species.

Handling - They don't generally like it. They are like chameleons. Easily stressed. They like each other, not humans so much.

Notes- Hermits get irritated by metal, avoid climbing equipment with it. They also can be messy, some say the sign of a happy hermit is one that trashes the tank. Again, depends on the individual hermit. You might find they cause you more mess. I have had hermits take food into hides, the shell shop, holes, etc.

Overcrowding- Hermits need space. Adding vertical space can help, but they need lots of horizontal space too. They need space to molt. Small hermit crabs (less than ping ball size) can be kept in a 10 gallon, but I wouldn't put more than that in there. Jumbo and larger crabs need a larger tank for the molting space. They love to run around, climb, and etc. There is no critter keeper larger enough for any crab, unless a crab must be temporarily isolated.

Most hermit crabs have suffered abuse. Hermit crabs in captivity are ALL wild caught and the process is not pretty. Very few people (3) have managed to breed them in captivity. Even the most experienced have very little luck. Thus, thousands are taken from the wild each year. The painted shell thing is the saddest part because they are ripped out of their natural shell in a variety of ways. I won't go into the more distressing ways here. They are then shipped into the pet industry, far from their home. The stress kills most of them. Once in the petstore they often receive the wrong care, and due to lack of humidity suffocate and are overcrowded. If you have seen pictures of these guys in large wire cages, they are allergic to the metal. Once sold they are often kept in a tiny KK with hardly any space or hiding places.

Please think about that. Please be the person, that if you chose to own one of these creatures, shows them the kindness and compassion they need by researching their needs first.

In summery, adding hermit crabs will probably add more work to your enclosure. They are taking on another pet.

Here are some important links

http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=51
http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=92557 (safe food list)
http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=92556 (UNSAFE food list)

Hermit crab stores
http://www.hermitcrabpatch.com/
http://www.hermitcrabaddictionstore.com/


If you have further questions let me know =)
 

Jacqui

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The worry I have always had, is if they would locate laid eggs before I could and would eat them. Glad you wrote this up! I am going to place this as a sticky in the enclosure area (tell me if you don't want me too), because this can also be done with more species then the redfoots (I always wanted to try them with my hingebacks).
 

abclements

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That was very informative. So what I'm seeing/reading, those that keep red foots on coco coir, at proper humidity, with lots of plants and fake plants, water dish, large enclosure... etc actually are providing a pretty decent environment for the hermit crabs. If one was to provide meat and an aquarium salt water bath on a weekly basis, would it be ok to cohabitate the two species together? I've always been interested in this idea (not as a clean up crew, but definitely a bonus) but more as just an addition to my enclosure to make it a little more interesting.
 

Skymall007

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I would be honored if this was stickied =) I am glad I could pass on this information.


abclements said:
That was very informative. So what I'm seeing/reading, those that keep red foots on coco coir, at proper humidity, with lots of plants and fake plants, water dish, large enclosure... etc actually are providing a pretty decent environment for the hermit crabs. If one was to provide meat and an aquarium salt water bath on a weekly basis, would it be ok to cohabitate the two species together? I've always been interested in this idea (not as a clean up crew, but definitely a bonus) but more as just an addition to my enclosure to make it a little more interesting.


The hermits always need access to the salt water. They keep their own ph. which is why there is debates on whether or not to bathe them. As long as the salt water was kept in a place only the hermits could get to that is the best way to go. You never know when they need it. Since the red foot can't climb like they do, you could always have the bath on a different level with a ladder going up to it. As long as it is secure. That is what I did in my tank since the hermits kept dumping dirt into their water lolz. Some plants can be toxic to hermits so make sure to check the safe food list. I use fake ones. Hermits are also really good at shredding plants ahaha.

The only time I bathe my hermits is in fresh dechlorinated water before adding one to the tank. If there are problems with the others, then I will bathe all of them so they all smell the same. Other then that I don't bathe them. =)


Jacqui said:
The worry I have always had, is if they would locate laid eggs before I could and would eat them. Glad you wrote this up! I am going to place this as a sticky in the enclosure area (tell me if you don't want me too), because this can also be done with more species then the redfoots (I always wanted to try them with my hingebacks).

I would be honored for this to be stickied! =) I am glad this information can help others
 

Skymall007

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No problem =) I should add that hermits (some species, particularly the ones sold most often in petstores) can get to be baseball size. It takes many years though. I am not sure if this is true, but they can live past 75 years. For sure some have been in captivity over 30 years. It would seem if we want to live longer, we should start wearing shells.
 

abclements

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That's a good idea. If I built a high shelf for them, do you think they would jump?
 

Skymall007

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abclements said:
That's a good idea. If I built a high shelf for them, do you think they would jump?

They will def. jump and fall and push each other off. As long as the landing is soft they should be fine. I hear mine falling all the time at night off their ledges and such. They can be a bit clumsy actually and when they get annoyed with each other they often slap. If you hear strange screeching then you need to break up a fight but other than that they seem to settle things pretty well. The cocofiber is soft and as long as they don't fall more than a foot they should be cool =)


littleginsu said:
Thank you for the information. I enjoyed reading it very much!

That makes me so happy =) Thank you! =)


Cowboy_Ken said:
Thank you for a very clear, informative read.

I am glad you liked it! Thank you for letting me there were many curiosities about this topic!
 

bouaboua

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WOW!!!

I never know this level of care are needed for the Hermits crabs. Very good read. very educational. Thanks.
 

abclements

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I glad we finally found a person who is knowledgeable on their crabs! I think I'm going to give it a shot when I upgrade my enclosure! This could be fun!
 

Skymall007

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abclements said:
I glad we finally found a person who is knowledgeable on their crabs! I think I'm going to give it a shot when I upgrade my enclosure! This could be fun!

I promise you won't regret it! They are so much fun to watch. They all have their own personalities!
 

Skymall007

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abclements said:
Perfect! I'll keep you guys updated!

I can't wait to hear how it goes! The hermits will be very curious about their larger shelled companion. Might take them in as one of their own lolz
 

TortsNTurtles

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Why adding hermits with your Redfoot may NOT be a good idea

Wow, this is great information. Thank you for hermit crab care sheet. I loved how you stated it is taking on another pet and to consider the needs if the crab if anyone decides to add one to their tortoise enclosure. I had no idea the needs of a hermit crab. I enjoyed the post . Thanks.
 

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