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Are Hermit Crabs Social? (And Can They Live Alone?)

Are Hermit Crabs Social? (And Can They Live Alone?)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hermit crabs are popular pets and relatively easy to care for. Unlike other terrarium animals, these crabs are quite active and curious, so they’re fun to watch.

There are two types of hermit crabs sold in the US, Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus. However, there are other species sold around the world.

So, if you want to keep a hermit crab as a pet, there are several questions you need to ask yourself.

Are hermit crabs social? Can hermit crabs live together?

Keep on reading to find the answer to your questions.

Are Hermit Crabs Social?

Hermit crabs live in large groups in the wild, and they’re highly sociable. So you need to take this into consideration when you’re setting up your crabs’ new home.

Hermit crabs love to play and even sleep together. So it’s always fun to watch them while they’re piling up to sleep, and they do this for protection.

Buying one hermit crab and keeping it as a pet isn’t recommended because these animals can actually die of loneliness when they’re left alone for too long. If you have a pair and one of the crabs dies, you need to get a new one to keep the other crab company.

It’s always recommended to keep a group of crabs together, as this will help them get used to their home and live happily.

However, if you’re getting different crabs to live in the same terrarium, make sure that they’re of the same size. This will minimize aggression so they can live peacefully together with no fights.

Can Hermit Crabs Live Alone?

Hermit crabs usually live in groups made of about 100 members or more in their natural habitat. The animals usually live up to 30 or even 40 years because their needs are fulfilled, and the whole group provides protection.

However, hermit crabs don’t usually live that long when kept as pets. The main reason is that pet owners are typically unable to create the perfect environment for them to thrive.

Keeping a hermit crab on its own is one of the mistakes some pet owners make. Without company, this animal won’t survive and will die within weeks to a few months.

This is probably the reason why hermit crabs were usually thought of as throwaway pets that die within a few months. But, now that we know what these animals need, keeping them alive for a longer period will be easier.

You should start with a terrarium that suits at least two hermit crabs, although having more crabs will be a better idea.

Research proves that hermit crabs will grow bigger and stay healthier within a bigger group. They might not live up to 40 years, but they can live for long.

Can Hermit Crabs Live Together?

Hermit crabs love living in large groups. They seek protection and enjoy the presence of other group members because they provide comfort.

In their natural habitat, hermit crabs explore and forage for food with their friends, and this allows them to find more food. However, when kept in captivity, you need to make sure that your hermit crabs won’t get aggressive or fight with each other.

Here are some rules to set up the best home for a group of hermit crabs.

  • Make sure that there’s enough space for the crabs you keep. For example, a 5-gallon terrarium will be enough for two crabs, and you need to buy a bigger one depending on the number of crabs you have.
  • If you’re introducing a new crab to the group, keep an eye on your hermit crabs and intervene if you witness bullying.
  • Make sure that you don’t add a crab that’s too big or too small to an existing group, as this will increase the chance of fighting.
  • Every hermit crab needs at least four or five shells because these crabs don’t have an exoskeleton to protect their bodies when they molt.
  • Set up a bowl of conditioned freshwater and a bowl of conditioned seawater to allow the crabs to clean themselves regularly, as this will reduce stress. Adding a conditioner is essential because the crabs can’t tolerate the chlorine in tap water.
  • Provide your hermit crabs with enough food and water. When food and water are scarce, the animals are likely to become more aggressive.
  • Offer fresh food every day and remove all the waste. Hermit crabs eat slowly, so a lot of leftover food might be present in the aquarium or terrarium where you’re keeping them.
  • The temperature and humidity levels should be suitable for the crabs. Remember that hermit crabs need humidity to breathe comfortably.
  • Keep an aquarium or terrarium LED light in their habitat and turn it on for 8 to 12 hours per day as this will mimic the crabs’ natural habitat.
  • Provide the crabs with sea sponges and rocks. These items are essential because they’re close to what the animal can find in its natural habitat, and they provide an opportunity for playing and climbing.
  • Pay attention to your crabs. These crabs aren’t aggressive, and when handled with care, you can definitely take the animal out of its home and play with it a little.

How Many Hermit Crabs Can Live Together?

To decide on the number of crabs to add to the enclosure, you need to make sure that it’s big enough for a food dish, two water dishes, and enough shells for all the animals you’re planning to keep.

There’s no specific rule to the space required to accommodate several crabs because this depends on their size. For example, a 10-gallon enclosure can accommodate four large crabs, six medium ones, and ten small ones.

Of course, the crabs in the group won’t be of the same size, and this isn’t a problem. The most important thing is to keep the substrate layer deep enough for the largest crab to bury itself while it’s molting.

However, if you have huge crabs, don’t introduce a tiny one because they might accidentally break its legs.

When a new hermit crab is introduced to an existing group, the alpha crab usually approaches it to establish hierarchy. The two crabs engage in a power display, and the one that keeps its antennae up becomes the new group leader.

Can Fiddler Crabs Live with Hermit Crabs?

There are different types of land and water hermit crabs, and you can keep many of them in the same enclosure. So, if you want to have different types of crabs, you get members of various species and keep them in the same terrarium or aquarium.

Nevertheless, fiddler crabs shouldn’t be kept with hermit crabs in the same enclosure.

Fiddler crabs are aggressive diggers, and they will most likely eat hermit crabs while they’re molting.

Do Hermit Crabs Get Lonely?

Hermit crabs can get lonely when you choose to keep one on its own. The crab needs social interaction and will enjoy playing and digging with its friends.

When kept alone, crabs usually don’t live for too long.

Can Hermit Crabs Live With Other Animals?

Because they’re highly sociable, hermit crabs actually love living with other animals. At the same time, there are some animals that you should never keep in the same enclosure as your hermit crabs.

Animals that Can Be Kept With Hermit Crabs

Here are some animals that make excellent companions to your hermit crabs.

  • Other hermit crab species will be an excellent addition to an existing crab colony. This way, you can have different animals that get along well in the same enclosure.
  • Reef-dwelling hermit crabs can live with small reef-dwelling fish like Firefish, Mandarin fish, Clownfish, and Butterflyfish. You need to make sure that the crabs and fish have the same needs regarding the salination of the water and temperature.
  • Isopods and arthropods can live happily with hermit crabs. They actually keep the tank clean and won’t infest it like some other types of insects.
  • Land hermit crabs can live with some types of geckos, especially the Crested Gecko, but you need to do your research to make sure that the animal is able to handle the humidity that your hermit crabs need to thrive. However, the crab might attack the gecko to protect its territory.

Animals that Can’t Be Kept With Hermit Crabs

Even if it might seem like a good idea, several animals shouldn’t go in the same enclosure as your hermit crabs.

  • Lizards and reptiles don’t usually live comfortably in the same habitat as the hermit crabs. These are desert-dwelling animals, and crabs like to live in high humidity levels in tropical environments.
  • Although turtles usually live in a similar habitat, they don’t make the perfect companions for hermit crabs. They won’t interact with each other, so keeping the two species together doesn’t make sense.
  • Earthworms, beetles, crickets, roaches, and praying mantis can live in the same habitat as the hermit crab, but they’re not good companions. They might also infest your house if they leave the enclosure.
  • Centipedes can be toxic to hermit crabs and kill them.
  • Snails can live in the same habitat as hermit crabs, but the crabs usually eat them.

Final Thoughts

Hermit crabs are popular and friendly pets because they’re easy to care for.

They need to live in a humid and tropical enclosure with enough food and water, and they’re likely to live for long if you take care of them.

These animals are pretty sociable, so they don’t tolerate living alone. As a matter of fact, keeping a hermit crab by itself will make it too stressed.

You need to keep at least two hermit crabs in the same terrarium, or you can add more as long as there’s enough space to support all the animals. These animals usually tolerate a new crab as long as you’re providing enough food, water, shells, and space.

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