We know that you can watch your hermit crabs scuttle in their enclosure cheerfully the whole day with their upbeat personalities and vibrant colors. But when it’s time for their bath, things may seem a bit intimidating to you.
If it’s your first time bathing your tiny buddies, we’re here to offer you some tips on how to give hermit crabs a bath in this step-by-step guide. Afterward, we’ll answer a few questions that may be on your mind so that you’re fully prepared for this new experience.
Are you ready to dive in?
Step 1: Determine If Your Hermit Crab Needs a Bath
Unlike other pets, hermit crabs shouldn’t be bathed on a regular basis, but there are some cases where this is a must.
See, hermit crabs give themselves baths periodically to keep themselves healthy and clean using saltwater. That’s because exposure to saltwater is necessary for these little beings so that their bodies are always in optimum condition.
But, if you don’t have a saltwater bowl in your hermit crab tank besides the freshwater bowl that they drink from, you’ll be obligated to give them saltwater baths from time to time.
The second scenario where you’ll need to bathe your hermit crabs is if you’ve just brought them home. They could simply have any number of germs or other harmful microorganisms stuck on their shells, so you’ll want to get rid of those.
The last reason why a bath can be a good idea for your crab is if he or she has mites. Those nasty parasites are no fun, and, luckily, a bath will eliminate their existence on your crab once and for all.
If any of those cases apply to your hermit crabs, then roll those shirtsleeves up and get ready for some action!
Step 2: Grab a Suitable Bowl to Bathe Your Hermit Crab Inside
You can bathe your crab in any type of bowl or small container as long as it’s deep enough to cover most of his shell. Yet, a lot of people recommend using a container with a flat bottom for this job because it allows the crab to move easily in it.
Remember that the bowl must be heavy enough so that the crab won’t knock it over once he moves inside it.
Now that the bowl or container is ready, it’s time to fill it with water.
Step 3: Fill the Bowl With A Mixture of Water and Salt
The water that you’ll be using to fill the bowl must be free of chlorine and at room temperature not to harm your small buddy. Therefore, tap water won’t be your friend here. Sorry!
Once you pour a good amount of distilled water into the container, add your choice of salt into the water to end up with a suitable solution that your crab will like to stay in.
Thankfully, there are many market options available for this job, so make sure to order one or simply grab one at your local pet store.
For the best results, use one teaspoon of salt for every 100 mm of water and mix the contents of the bowl well with a large spoon.
Step 4: Move Your Crab to the Bowl of Water
In this step, you must be as gentle and slow as possible when approaching your crab. See, hermit crabs can feel stressed or overwhelmed if you suddenly pull them outside of their home, so you must be extra careful here.
Start the bath by placing your crab in the water, monitoring the water level as you do. You don’t want your friend to be fully submerged because he’ll need the oxygen in the air to survive.
If all’s good, keep your hold on your crab and move him a little bit in the water so that it splashes against his legs and shell. This way, he’ll come to understand that this is safe territory for him to be with nothing to be afraid of.
After that, leave your crab for a minute or two; that’s when he’ll most likely crawl out of his shell.
Step 5: Let Your Crab Move in the Container
Normally, your crab will warm to the water and scuttle out of his shell, walking around to explore the container. Allow him to bathe himself and replenish the moisture in the shell to maintain his humidity levels later on, but keep a close eye on his behavior.
After a few minutes, it’ll be time to remove the crab from the water. You can easily tell if he starts to get uncomfortable if he seems to be trying to find a way to escape or if he goes back into his shell.
Step 6: Check the Water for Any Mites or Insects
After your crab’s initial dip in the water, you’ll start to notice mites floating on the water surface. That is, of course, if the aim of the bath is to get rid of those annoying creatures.
If these mites keep reappearing during the bath, you’ll have to go back to dipping your crab in the water until all the mites leave his body. Then, when nothing comes out of his shell anymore, you can finally remove your crab from his makeshift bathtub!
Step 7: Put Your Crab on a Paper Towel, Then Return Him to His Tank
With delicate and slow movements once again, pick up your hermit crab and place him on a paper towel. Let him walk around a bit to dry himself, then move him to his home tank.
You must remember that crabs get anxious quite easily. So, it’s best if you keep those bath adventures to a minimum and when it’s vital for your crab’s well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are only certain scenarios where a bath is important for your hermit crab. But daily bathing can be a must in some situations, especially when it comes to humidity levels.
To lead a healthy and happy life, crabs must live somewhere with 70% humidity or higher. If the region where you live has lower humidity levels, you must bathe your crab on a daily basis to make up for the lack of moisture in the air.
Can I use table salt instead of store-bought crab salt when giving my hermit crab a bath?
It’s not advised to use table salt for bathing your hermit crab because it includes iodine. So, it can be quite harmful to your crab.
On the other hand, unionized salt may be a better fit for this role if you can’t find the right product at your nearby pet store.
What are some alternatives to bathing a hermit crab?
Some people may not feel comfortable bathing their hermit crabs every once in a while because they don’t want to stress their little creatures out. Thankfully, there are some ways you could provide your crab with the saltwater that he needs without completely submerging him in it.
For instance, you can keep a mixture of the saltwater used to bathe the crab in inside a spray bottle. Then, simply mist your crab with this water on a daily basis to keep him moist.
Another great idea is to place a shallow bowl of saltwater inside your crab’s tank besides his freshwater bowl. This way, he can take a fulfilling bath whenever he desires without your interference.
Just remember to fill this bowl with some rocks to keep the water from being too deep. You don’t want the crab to accidentally submerge himself in the water and get hurt.
Should I bathe my hermit crab if he smells funny?
No. Bathing your crab shouldn’t be an option if there’s a strange odor coming off him because the cause of this smell is likely related to a health issue. Therefore, it’ll probably not go away even after a thorough bath.
Instead, you must seek the help of a professional to determine what’s wrong with your hermit crab’s health.
Learning how to give hermit crabs a bath is one of the first things every newbie crab parent should include on their to-do list. Even though it’s not always necessary, it’s a skill you must have so you can whip it out at the right moment!
Thankfully, bathing a hermit crab isn’t all that challenging. You should just find the right bowl, create your saltwater bath, then gently put your crab inside the container and let him do the rest of the work.
However, it’s important to supervise the entire process from A to Z to watch for signs of trouble and ensure the safety of your crab. The whole deal takes less than ten minutes anyway, so keeping your head in the game shouldn’t be hard!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.