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Here’s How to Find Hermit Crabs at the Beach

Here’s How to Find Hermit Crabs at the Beach

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.

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If you are setting off for the beach, you might like to look out for some hermit crabs. Hermit crabs make interesting pets, and it is quite possible to catch one or two on the beach if that is what you want.

Hermit crabs can be found mainly on rocky beaches. While they are plentiful on most beaches, it could be helpful to know precisely how to find hermit crabs at the beach to ensure your success.

Hermit crabs are found chiefly on rocky beaches. You are sure to find them on beach sand where the water meets the shore. Look out for hermit crabs or scan for them under rocks. They are nocturnal, making them most active at night, so take a flashlight and head out at sunset for the best results.

Hermit crabs make interesting pets and are relatively easy to care for. They are sociable and have unique personalities that can be enjoyable to watch. If you are planning on getting a hermit crab as a pet, you might like to catch one or two of your own at the beach.

Let’s look at where to find them, what time is best, and the best methods to use for success.

How to Find Hermit Crabs at the Beach

Hermit crabs can be found where the ocean waves touch the beach’s sand and in tidal pools. You will likely see a few crabs stranded on the beach if the tide is low, especially in rocky areas.

Rocky beaches are the best for finding hermit crabs, as they like to take cover most of the time. One of the best ways to find hermit crabs on a sandy beach is to watch the spot where the water reaches the sand and then retreats.

As the wave reaches the sand, it deposits a few crabs onto the beach. As the water retreats, carefully watch the wet sand for shells of different shapes and sizes.

Hermit crabs are social creatures, so you may see many simultaneously. They change their shells a few times in their lives, so you can see a large variety of shapes, colors, and sizes making their way across the sand or around the rocks.

If you would prefer not to scan the beach sand for your crabs, then rock pools are where you should head. Look out for the lovely shells of hermit crabs on the sand and rocks there.

Hermit crabs look like snails but move more quickly and easily pull off rocks. Approach them slowly, as they sometimes abandon their shells when frightened, and this will leave them vulnerable to the elements while they search for a new one.

Hermit crabs tend to be inactive during the hottest hours of the day, so you could still see a few if you are at the beach during the day. The benefit of finding crabs during the day is that you will easily pick them up and have a look at them without them scurrying away too quickly.

The best time to find hermit crabs at the beach is at night. Since they are nocturnal, they are active at night, making them exciting to watch.

If you are going crab hunting at night, head out around sunset and take a flashlight with you. As you shine the beam of light on the sand, you will likely see numerous crabs scurrying around.

Hermit crabs can also be found under rocks, so you won’t want to miss looking there too. Gently lift a few rocks and see what you can find, being careful not to hurt or crush any little creatures hiding there.

Approach them slowly and carefully whenever you are looking for a hermit crab. They are easily frightened and will quickly take cover if they feel they are being watched or approached.

Although hermit crabs tend to be well camouflaged and are lightning-fast at hiding, seeing them in their natural habitat, on the beach, can be pretty exhilarating. Take the time to head out at night and be careful as you get closer to them for the very best results.

How to Find Hermit Crabs at Night

Hermit crabs are nocturnal. They are most active and awake at night, which means that the best time to find hermit crabs at the beach is after sunset.

If you want to look for crabs at night, head to the beach around sunset. As it gets darker and cooler, hermit and other crabs become more active, and you will likely see them running across the sand.

A definite must-have for nighttime crab hunting is a flashlight. As you shine the light from your flashlight on the sand, you will experience the exciting sight of crabs scurrying around.

Ghost crabs will freeze for a few seconds before running again, so keep an eye out for those as you search for hermit crabs. Look on the sand, under rocks, and in rock pools if it is safe to do so.

Hermit crabs are good at hiding and tend to stick around in places where they can take cover. Find rocks that you can look around or under and see if you can find your crab.

When lifting a rock, especially at night, take care to look properly for any creatures hiding on, under, or around it. Remember that you are in their home, so be respectful and do not injure or squash any.

Top Tips for Finding Hermit Crabs at the Beach

It can be pretty fun to look for hermit crabs on the beach. Whether you choose to search during the day or night, you should keep a few tips in mind to make the most of your excursion.

Here are our top five tips for finding hermit crabs at the beach:

  1. Search rock pools. Hermit crabs enjoy the calm water of rock pools when the tide is out, and the rocks allow them to take cover when they need to.
  2. Head out at sunset. Since hermit crabs are nocturnal, sunset is an excellent time to head to the beach to see them as they become more active.
  3. Approach them slowly. If you see a hermit crab out of hiding, take your time approaching it. They scare easily and could desert their shell to escape, leaving them vulnerable to the elements until they find a replacement.
  4. Take a flashlight. If you are searching for crabs at night, be sure to take a flashlight. The light beam will enable you to see many crabs scurrying on the sand.
  5. Respect the crabs and other creatures as you search. You may be focused on finding hermit crabs, but remember that you are surrounded by plants and animals in their natural habitat, and they should be respected and protected. Be careful as you lift rocks, walk at night or dig in rock pools to be sure not to hurt any plants or animals.

Keep our top tips in mind as you look for hermit crabs on the beach, and you will likely enjoy success on your crab-finding expedition.

Final Thoughts

Finding hermit crabs to keep as pets can be a fun adventure as well as a learning opportunity as you watch them in their natural habitat. The best time to look for hermit crabs is the night when they are most active since they are nocturnal.

If you see a crab out of hiding, approach it carefully and slowly to avoid frightening it or causing it harm. If that is your aim, a slow approach is also more likely to get you close enough to the crab to catch it.