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14 Popular and Interesting Hermit Crab Types

14 Popular and Interesting Hermit Crab Types

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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.

There are over 800 species of hermit crabs all over the world today. Sadly, only a few are available for us to take home.

While the most common hermit crab types that you’ll see in pet stores are the Caribbean and Ecuadorian crabs, this article will introduce you to some of the other species as well.

Keep reading and maybe you’ll find the one that you want to take care of!

14 Species of Hermit Crabs You Can Take Home

The following list will go through some of the land types and marine hermit crabs that can be kept as pets.

1 – Coenobita clypeatus

  • Common names: Caribbean hermit crab, Soldier crab, Purple pincher, Tree crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 3 to 4 inches

The Caribbean hermit crab is a popular choice for beginner owners since it’s rather easy to care for them. They’re also generally peaceful so they can stay in tanks with other hermit crabs.

This species can come in a range of different colors like orange, red, pink, purple, and brown. Its left claw is usually large and purple (hence the name Purple pincher).

When in captivity, this hermit crab can reach up to 20 years old if they’re given proper care.

2 – Coenobita compressus

  • Common names: Ecuadorian hermit crab, Pacific hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 0.5 to 2 inches

The other species that’s widely available in pet stores is the Ecuadorian hermit crab. It’s smaller than the Caribbean hermit crab, but it’s a speedy little critter!

The Ecuadorian hermit crab also comes in various colors, such as yellow, orange, green, and blue. Its colors change every time it goes through molting too.

Be sure to keep your crab’s enclosure secure because they’re quite good at climbing and escaping.

3 – Coenobita perlatus

  • Common name: Strawberry hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 3 to 4 inches

The Strawberry hermit crab is known for its vibrant red color, sometimes with a hint of orange. They also have tiny white spots all over their body.

While this species is growing in popularity, it should be known that they’re not as easy to take care of as their more common counterparts.

Because they’re somewhat more fragile, their habitat needs to be similar to the tropical conditions they’re used to. Even with optimal care, they can usually live up to only five years.

This is still a highly active species even in captivity, so give them ample sand substrate because they love to dig around.

4 – Coenobita rugosus

  • Common names: Ruggie, Rug, Tawny hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 3 to 4 inches

Ruggie hermit crabs are nocturnal, meaning, they’re usually most active from dusk to just before sunrise. In the morning, they like to hide, so give them plenty of toys, like rocks and branches.

This is a pretty social species of hermit crab. Keeping them isolated from other crabs may actually decrease their activity and increase their fear levels.

Ruggies are commonly found in green or brown colors, but they’ve also been observed in black, white, pink, and blue.

5 -Coenobita purpureus

  • Common names: Japanese or Okinawan Blueberry hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 3 to 4 inches

The Blueberry hermit crab is one of the rarest species that are still kept as pets today. Because of overharvesting, Japan has made this species a Natural Monument Animal since 1970.

Young Blueberry hermit crabs start off with a cream color which develops into various shades of blue.

They like to burrow between roots and stones to protect themselves from predators. They may also burrow in damp sand to prevent dehydration.

6 – Coenobita brevimanus

  • Common name: Indonesian hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 6 to 8 inches (but only 2 to 3 inches in captivity)

The Indonesian hermit crab is known to be one of the largest in its genus. However, despite its size, this species can be pretty shy.

It might take longer for this hermit crab to get accustomed to a new home. When it does, it becomes more active.

Its body usually comes in a purplish color, but it can also be brownish-red. They’re quite darker compared to the other species in the same genus.

7 – Coenobita variabilis

  • Common names: Australian land hermit crab, Crazy Crabs
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 2 to 3 inches

This species of hermit crab is endemic to northern Australia, where they reside near mangrove forests.

Australian hermit crabs are typically light brown with spots of darker brown all over their legs. When they scavenge at night, they’re usually attracted to decaying food.

They also got the name “Crazy Crabs” from the first person who harvested and sold them as pets, Merv Cooper. Cooper has been in this industry for over 40 years, with his motto being “A house is not a home without a hermit crab”.

8 – Coenobita violascens

  • Common name: Viola hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 2.7 to 3 inches

Viola hermit crabs are native to Southeast and East Asia as well as some African countries.

As you may have guessed from its name, this species’ body is entirely violet. When they’re young, they start out with red, orange, or brown colors.

Once they mature, they can come in different shades, from light lavender to dark blue-violet. Some retailers have mislabeled them as Blueberry or Indonesian hermit crabs, but they’re all distinct species.

9 – Coenobita scaevola

  • Common name: Red Sea hermit crab
  • Type: Terrestrial
  • Average size: 2 to 3 inches

Red Sea hermit crabs are common in—you guessed it—the coast of the Red Sea. They can survive in hotter climates but only if they’re near the shore.

They’ll usually burrow in the damp sand during the day and only come out to scavenge at night.

This species usually comes in white or pale pink colors. They also prefer a variety of shells, such as the Nerita undata and Turbo radiatus.

10 – Clibanarius tricolor

  • Common names: Tricolor hermit crab, Blue-legged hermit crab, Dwarf Blue hermit crab
  • Type: Marine
  • Average size: 0.8 to 1.5 inches

A popular hermit crab for aquariums, this species is efficient in cleaning up unwanted algae growth. It may also sift through the tank’s substrate, cleaning it up while in the process of looking for food.

These hermit crabs come in stunning shades of blue with legs that have red banding and white tips. Unlike other species that have larger left claws, Tricolor hermit crabs have claws of equal size.

You may want to scatter spare snail shells around the tank because they often go out looking for new ones.

11 – Clibanarius digueti

  • Common names: Dwarf Red Tip hermit crab, Mexican hermit crab, Blue-eyed Spotted hermit crab
  • Type: Marine
  • Average size: 1 to 2 inches

Found in the waters of Mexico and California, the Dwarf Red Tip hermit crab feeds on detritus, algae, and other decaying organic matter. This makes them a great addition to your tank for maintenance!

This species comes in bright red and like the Tricolor hermit crab, it also has claws of equal size.

Again, you’ll want to have extra shells in your tank to avoid fatal fights between your hermit crabs.

12 – Calcinus laevimanus

  • Common names: Zebra hermit crab, Hawaiian Reef hermit crab
  • Type: Marine
  • Average size: 1 to 1.4 inches

Zebra hermit crabs are found in intertidal zones of the Indo-Pacific. They have white or orange bands on dark pincers and legs. Their eyestalks are blue too, fading into orange at the tips.

These hermit crabs are also happy to be scavengers, eating any leftovers from their tank mates. To make sure they still have enough to eat, you can drop pellets in until they reach the substrate.

13 – Ciliopagurus strigatus

  • Common names: Halloween hermit crab, Striped hermit crab, Orange-legged hermit crab
  • Type: Marine
  • Average size: 2 inches

The Halloween hermit crab gets its name because of its red, orange, and white stripes, reminiscent of the spooky holiday.

Aside from cleaning up your tank, this species may also be the most brightly colored marine hermit crab you can own.

Because they can get quite large, they might knock over or damage some of the corals in your tank. Otherwise—aside from the usual shell-related fights—these critters are a peaceful bunch.

14 – Paguristes cadenati

  • Common names: Red or Scarlet Reef hermit crab
  • Type: Marine
  • Average size: 1.2 to 1.5 inches

Native to the Caribbean Sea, this species of hermit crab has a vibrant red body with yellow eyestalks.

It’s a hardy little animal with a huge appetite for algae and other organic matter. If the tank has been recently cleaned, Scarlet Reef hermit crabs are also fond of dried seaweed.

They stay quite small so you won’t need to worry about them damaging any corals. They’re friendly with their tank mates as well.

Remember, if you have fish that need a copper-based treatment, don’t keep them in the same tank as most marine hermit crabs. This is because they can’t tolerate the substance.

Final Thoughts

Hermit crabs can make perfect pets for families. The care they need is mostly hands-off and they’re a great way to introduce more aquatic creatures to young children.

There aren’t a lot of species to choose from, especially since some are rarer than others and only found in particular countries.

However, there’s still a wide variety when it comes to color and size. You can even decide if you want the hermit crabs to be the center of your tank, or just a fun and useful addition to your aquarium.

With proper care and attention, your little hermit crabs can keep you company for years!

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