Charity Maldonado

Charity Maldonado

Modified & Updated: 07 Sep 2023


Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures that have captured the curiosity of animal enthusiasts for years. These small crustaceans are known for their unique behavior of using discarded shells as their homes. With their distinct appearance and intriguing lifestyle, hermit crabs have become popular pets and subjects of study for researchers.

In this article, we will delve into the world of hermit crabs and explore 18 fascinating facts about them. From their ability to change shells to their quirky feeding habits, there’s so much to learn about these intriguing creatures. So, grab your magnifying glass and join us on this exciting journey into the fascinating world of hermit crabs.

Table of Contents

Hermit crabs are not true crabs.

Despite their name, hermit crabs are not actually classified as true crabs. They belong to the order Decapoda, along with other crustaceans like lobsters and shrimp.

They have a soft, asymmetrical abdomen.

Unlike true crabs, hermit crabs have a soft and asymmetrical abdomen. To protect their vulnerable body, they seek out empty seashells to use as protective homes.

Hermit crabs are social creatures.

These fascinating creatures are known for their social behavior. They often gather in large groups, called “crab clusters,” where they interact and communicate with each other.

They have specialized gills.

Hermit crabs breathe through specialized gills, located in their modified legs. These gills allow them to extract oxygen from the water and survive both in and out of the water.

They are scavengers.

Hermit crabs are primarily scavengers, feeding on a variety of organic matter, including algae, dead animals, and detritus. They play an important role in the marine ecosystem by cleaning up decaying matter.

They molt as they grow.

To accommodate their increasing size, hermit crabs undergo a process called molting. During molting, they shed their exoskeleton and grow a new one. This allows them to continue growing throughout their lifespan.

Hermit crabs are excellent climbers.

These agile creatures have specially adapted legs that enable them to climb various surfaces, including rocks, trees, and even human-made structures. Their ability to climb helps them find food and shelter.

They have a unique reproductive process.

When it comes to reproduction, male hermit crabs have a specialized appendage called a “gonopod” that they use to fertilize the female’s eggs inside her shell. The female then carries the fertilized eggs until they hatch.

They can change shells.

As hermit crabs grow, they need to find larger shells to provide them with adequate protection. They will search for a suitable vacant shell and abandon their old one, undergoing a quick and seamless transfer to the new shell.

Hermit crabs are found in various habitats.

These versatile creatures can be found in a wide range of habitats, including oceans, seas, and even some freshwater environments. They are also popular pets and can be found in aquariums worldwide.

They are sensitive to environmental changes.

Hermit crabs are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, especially in water quality and temperature. It is crucial to maintain suitable conditions for their overall well-being.

Hermit crabs have an incredible sense of smell.

These creatures have an exceptional sense of smell and can detect food and potential predators from a distance. They use their antennae, which are highly sensitive to chemical signals, to navigate their surroundings.

They are known for their “house swapping” behavior.

One of the most fascinating behaviors exhibited by hermit crabs is their habit of “house swapping.” They frequently change their shells, sometimes engaging in battles with other crabs for the most desirable shells.

Hermit crabs can live for a long time.

Under suitable conditions, hermit crabs can live for several years. Some species have been known to reach an impressive lifespan of up to 30 years.

They can regenerate their limbs.

If a hermit crab loses a limb due to injury or predator attack, it has the remarkable ability to regenerate a new one. The regrown limb may not be a perfect replica, but it allows the crab to function relatively normally.

Hermit crabs have a complex social hierarchy.

Within a group of hermit crabs, there is typically a dominance hierarchy. Larger and stronger crabs will assert dominance over smaller ones, and conflicts can arise if territories and resources are disputed.

They have a wide range of colors and patterns.

Hermit crabs display a diverse range of colors and patterns on their exoskeleton, which can vary depending on the species and their habitat. This variety adds to their charm and beauty.

Hermit crabs undergo a period of inactivity called “aestivation.”

In hot and dry periods, some hermit crab species enter a state of aestivation. During this time, they become less active and may seal themselves in their shells, conserving energy until more favorable conditions return.


In conclusion, hermit crabs are fascinating creatures that have adapted to live in shells, constantly searching for larger ones as they grow. They play an important role in the ecosystem by scavenging on decaying matter and helping to clean up the ocean floor. With their unique ability to change shells and their interesting behaviors, hermit crabs are a captivating addition to the animal kingdom.


Q: What do hermit crabs eat?

A: Hermit crabs are omnivorous creatures. In the wild, they feed on a variety of food including algae, dead plant matter, small insects, and even dead animals. In captivity, they can be fed with a balanced diet consisting of commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasional sources of protein like cooked chicken or fish.

Q: Do hermit crabs need water?

A: Yes, hermit crabs require access to both freshwater and saltwater. They drink freshwater and use it to bathe and keep their gills moist. They also need a saltwater source for bathing and replenishing the salt content in their body. It is important to provide both freshwater and saltwater bowls in their habitat.

Q: How often do hermit crabs molt?

A: Hermit crabs molt periodically as they grow. The frequency of molting varies depending on factors such as age, species, and overall health. Generally, they molt every few months, but it can take up to several weeks for the entire molting process to complete. During this time, they bury themselves in the sand or hide to protect their vulnerable, soft exoskeleton while a new, larger one forms.

Q: Can hermit crabs live together?

A: Yes, hermit crabs can live together in groups, but it’s essential to provide enough space and resources for each crab. They are social creatures and can benefit from companionship, especially if their enclosure is large enough. However, it’s important to monitor their interactions and ensure a suitable hierarchy is established to prevent aggression or competition for resources.

Q: How long do hermit crabs live?

A: The lifespan of hermit crabs varies depending on the species and care provided. Generally, they can live for several years in captivity, with some species living up to 30 years in the wild. Providing a proper habitat, a balanced diet, and regular maintenance can contribute to a longer and healthier life for these captivating crustaceans.