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13 Types Of Hermit Crabs

There are somewhere around 1,000 species of hermit crabs around the world, with more being discovered all the time.

Most of them are not suitable to be pets, but there are a few you can keep at home and care for. Even with the kinds of hermit crabs that take well to captivity, there are still many different kinds, though some are incredibly rare.

Here we group hermit crabs into 2 groups; we have terrestrial and marine hermit crabs and they can’t both be kept in the same enclosure. I’m sure some may say they have that kind of setup, but it’s not advised.

Hermit crabs can be interesting and exciting pets to own. Unlike many exotic pets, hermit crabs don’t require a ton of upkeep or time.

In this article, we have compiled information on the 13 most popular types of hermit crabs you can own.

Land-dwelling hermit crabs can’t live or breathe underwater, and most species have needs that are extremely difficult to provide in captivity. The species listed here are adapted to live with humans and can thrive.

Hermit crabs are often described as “throw-away pets” because they don’t live long at all. But if the proper care is given to these little pets they can last for 20 years or longer depending on the species.

In the wild, hermit crabs often live for 30 to 40 years. The reason they have such a shortened life in captivity is that they can stress pretty easily, especially when they are handled.

With time and patience though, you can reduce this stress on your hermit crab and it will live for many years.

1. Caribbean Hermit Crab

Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) walking through sand, leaves, and sticks in Martinique, North America
Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) walking through sand, leaves, and sticks in Martinique, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita clypeatus
  • Other Names: Purple pincher, Tree crab
  • Adult Size: 2 to 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 12 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $40

There are generally 2 species of hermit crab that usually are sold in beachfront stores, the Caribbean and Ecuadorian hermit crabs. The crabs you find in these “touristy” stores are often mistreated and won’t survive long when you get them home.

They are cheap, but they are set in dry, metal cages, with little to no substrate, and are rarely fed a proper diet. The painted shells—that make them more enticing and pretty—are toxic to them as well.

You can still purchase one and it may last you for years, but be sure to look out for these warning signs:

  • Has a bad smell. They shouldn’t smell fishy or musty. If it is, it’s either dead or soon will be.
  • Missing limbs. Hermit crabs should have 10 legs, including a small and large claw. Missing limbs means it’s either sick or otherwise, isn’t healthy.
  • Lethargic or has dull eyes. Again this is a sign of illness. Healthy hermit crabs should be alert and have bright, richly colored eyes.

The Caribbean hermit crab can be found in Florida, Belize, Venezuela, and the West Indies. They live on land, but females will venture into the water when they lay their eggs. They need humidity to help them breathe.

Hermit crabs still have gills though they are modified to breathe on land. Without the proper humidity though, they can’t exchange gasses and will eventually suffocate. 

Caribbean hermit crabs have small, short, black eyes with orange, red, or tan legs. They have one larger claw than the other (called chelipeds) that is usually purple. Hence the nickname “Purple Pincher.”

In the wild, these hermit crabs often live for a few decades, but in captivity, they usually don’t live more than a few weeks or months because of the awful conditions they are put through in beachside souvenir shops.

With proper care, your hermit crab can live for around 10 to 15 years, though some owners report theirs have lived for 40 years. 

2. Ecuadorian Hermit Crab

Ecuadorian Hermit Crab (Coenobita compressus) walking along a brick floor in Galapagos, Ecuador, South America
Ecuadorian Hermit Crab (Coenobita compressus) walking along a brick floor in Galapagos, Ecuador, South America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita compressus
  • Other Names: Pacific hermit crab, Eccie
  • Adult Size: 1 to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $9 to $15

Ecuadorian hermit crabs are a very small species that only reaches about 2 inches in length max. They can come in many different color variations. Some may be bright yellow or orange, while others may be more muted, such as grey, brown, or tan.

Often they have a bluish, or green tint to the insides of their legs. They have curved, or comma-shaped eyes compared to the Caribbean hermit crab’s rounded eyes.

As their name suggests they are native to Ecuador, but their homelands range from Mexico (along the Pacific coast) down to Chile.

These little crabs are known to be much more active and faster than Caribbean hermit crabs. They do well in groups, as long as they have plenty of space to move around. They also tend to keep their shells longer than other species, often hanging on to them even after molting.

Ecuadorian hermit crabs require seawater to live. They don’t live in it, but they need the water to keep their gills moist, and they metabolize the salts and minerals. Because of this need, the Ecuadorian hermit crab requires a more attentive hand and may be suitable for more experienced hermit crab owners.

A fun fact about Ecuadorian hermit crabs is they may make soft chirping sounds to communicate with other hermit crabs.

3. Rugosus Hermit Crab

Rugosus Hermit Crab (Coenobita rugosus) on sand in Trang, Thailand, Asia
Rugosus Hermit Crab (Coenobita rugosus) on sand in Trang, Thailand, Asia. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita rugosus
  • Other Names: Ruggie, Tawny hermit crab
  • Adult Size: 2 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $30

Ruggies, as the Rugosus hermit crab is affectionately called, feed nocturnally, but they may be active during the day.

They come from East Africa, Tahiti, and the South Pacific. They often inhabit mangrove forests in these areas.

Though they live in salty areas, these hermit crabs prefer freshwater. They will often climb up the mangrove roots and find puddles of fresh water to drink and replenish their shell water.

Rugosus hermit crabs have elongated eyestalks, with dark patches on the front surface, and behind the eyes, they have a dark band. Their front, larger claw often looks like it has stitches. Though some other species also have this marking, it’s more prominent on Ruggies.

These hermit crabs are a little larger than the previous two contenders on our list. They can reach lengths of up to 6 inches. Their colors vary, largely depending on their diet.

Ruggies can be black, green, brown, tan, blue, pink, red, purple, or other colors, so it’s difficult to distinguish them from color alone.

The Ruggie is a true omnivorous scavenger. They have been found eating anything from algae, fruit, decaying fish, and other carrion, and some have been observed getting their fill on turtle feces. Yikes!

4. Cavipe Hermit Crab

Cavipes Hermit Crab (Coenobita cavipes) walking on a rock in Camatines Sur, Philippines, Asia
Cavipes Hermit Crab (Coenobita cavipes) walking on a rock in Camatines Sur, Philippines, Asia. – Source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita cavipes
  • Other Names: Cavvie, Brown hermit-land crab, Passion fruit hermit
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 4 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 12 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $40

The Cavipe hermit crab is also called the passion fruit hermit because they have been seen using parts of hardened passion fruit rinds as shells. They are also affectionately called Cavvies.

The Cavipe hermit crab is native to Indonesia, the Philippines, Asia, Polynesia, and Micronesia. They are terrestrial crabs, but they often reside very near the shore and the ocean so they can completely submerge themselves.

They need salt water to help bind the shell to their soft bodies. The water inside their shell also helps to cool them off during hot days, helps with hydration, and helps keep their gills damp so they can breathe.

When owning Cavvies, you’ll need to make sure they are well-fed if you have more than one in the enclosure. You should also change what you feed them from day to day. They are known to get bored with the same food day after day, and will sometimes cannibalize other hermit crabs.

While most terrestrial hermit crabs like to climb, Cavipe hermit crabs seem to be the most inclined to climb. They usually don’t leave the trees except to feed and soak in the water.

They can be distinguished by their brown, blue-grey coloration, lighter-colored pincers, and orange antenna and eye stalks. They also have comma-shaped eyes.

5. Indonesian Hermit Crab

Indonesian Hermit Crab (Coenobita brevimanus) on grass somewhere in A'ana, Samoa, Oceania
Indonesian Hermit Crab (Coenobita brevimanus) on grass somewhere in A’ana, Samoa, Oceania. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita brevimanus
  • Other Names: Indonesian crab, Brevi, Indo, Purple hermit
  • Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 70 years
  • Average Price Range: Very rare

The Indonesian hermit crab is the largest species in captivity. While the coconut crab can reach lengths nearing 3 feet long, they are endangered and not available for the legal pet trade. Indos often range between 3 to 5 inches, but sometimes they can reach 6 to 8 inches in length.

Unlike most other hermit crabs, the Indonesian species tends to keep smaller shells. They typically only want to cover the soft, curled abdomen and will leave the hard-shelled exoskeleton exposed.

These crabs usually start off whitish with a brown stripe along the middle, but as they age, they will darken in color. By the time they are fully grown, the Indonesian hermit crab will be brownish red, with some purple shading along the limbs. The stripes stay throughout their life.

There have been a few variations that were mainly pink, with a large pink claw, but this is quite rare.

Indos are native to the South-west Pacific Ocean. Areas such as the Philippines, China, Taiwan, and China have Indonesian hermit crabs.

Though they are born in the ocean, they soon make their way back to the land and move into the humid forests. They prefer a very humid environment but don’t like to get wet.

These large hermit crabs are omnivores but tend to prefer meat over vegetation and fruit. If given a choice, they will choose fish or meat over anything else and sometimes become predators. The Indonesian hermit crab has been observed hunting and eating smaller hermit crabs before.

These hermit crabs are very rarely sold in the pet trade. Hermit crabs also don’t mate in captivity so they are difficult to find, so the prices of these crabs are hard to find.

6. Australian Hermit Crab

Australian Hermit Crab (Coenobita variabilis) on sand pebbles in Broome, Western Australia, Oceania
Australian Hermit Crab (Coenobita variabilis) on sand pebbles in Broome, Western Australia, Oceania. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita variabilis
  • Other Names: Australian land hermit crab, Crazy crab
  • Adult Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $30

Australian hermit crabs are native to the northern areas of the continent. They are primarily nocturnal and prefer to be close to the water.

The Australian hermit crab resembles Ecuadorian hermit crabs, except the former can get much bigger. The Australian version has dark ovals on either side of the head, and dark vertical stripes running along the front claws.

These hermit crabs are often light brown aside from the marks previously mentioned. They also have dark spots along their legs. Their eyestalks are the same color as their body.

As hermit crabs grow and molt they need larger shells for protection. Their abdomens are soft and vulnerable so they have to use discarded shells to protect this part of their body.

Sometimes shells are not very abundant and hermit crabs will fight over shells. Bigger hermit crabs in the wild can and will pull smaller hermit crabs out of shells.

If the displaced hermit doesn’t find a home soon they can dehydrate, or become a snack for wandering birds.

7. Strawberry Hermit Crab

Strawberry Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus) sitting on a pointy rock somewhere off the British Indian Ocean Territory, Asia
Strawberry Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus) sitting on a pointy rock somewhere off the British Indian Ocean Territory, Asia. – Source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita perlatus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 4 years
  • Average Price Range: Rare

The Strawberry hermit crab is very popular among hermit crab keepers because of the vibrant red or orange colors they are known for. The problem is they are the rarest of the popular hermit crab species.

You may come across people selling Strawberry hermit crabs but you end up getting a red Ruggie or other more available hermit crab species.

In the wild, these hermit crabs can live for 20 to 40 years, but in captivity, their needs are difficult to provide properly. Because of this difficulty, they only live between 1 to 5 years as a pet.

The Strawberry hermit crab is a native of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. They are found in Australia, Asia, Oceania, and Japan.

They like to keep water in its shell and will return to the ocean at night to replenish and freshen this water. During the day, especially on hot days, they will bury themselves in damp sand to stay hydrated and cool.

These crabs are so efficient at scavenging, that islands with healthy populations of Strawberry hermit crabs report low numbers of carrion-breeding flies. These hermit crabs also feed on invasive Giant African Land Snails. They have been observed pulling these snails out of their shells and then eating them.

Strawberry hermit crabs can be white or reddish-orange depending on their diet. To keep their bright, vibrant coloration, you need to feed them foods high in carotenes. Strawberries, red and orange bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and carrots all contribute to their bright colors.

8. Blueberry Hermit Crab

Blueberry Hermit Crab (Coenobita purpureus) on coarse sand in Kagoshima, Japan, Asia
Blueberry Hermit Crab (Coenobita purpureus) on coarse sand in Kagoshima, Japan, Asia. – Source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to expert
  • Family: Coenobitidae
  • Scientific Name: Coenobita purpureus
  • Other Names: Japanese blueberry hermit crab
  • Adult Size: 1 to 3 inches
  • Lifespan: A few months to 4 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $250

Another land-dwelling hermit crab named after its color is the Blueberry hermit crab.

It’s often called the Japanese Blueberry hermit crab because of its native habitat. They are only found along Japan’s coasts, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Blueberry hermit crabs are forest dwellers but will come to the water to lay their eggs.

Though known for their bright purple, or bluish-purple coloration, they start out light in this color and only develop rich deep colors as they mature.

Because of how much pollution and trash is in the oceans around where Blueberry hermit crabs live, some of them have started collecting plastic caps and other trash as protective shells. This species can be rather aggressive when it comes to shells.

These hermit crabs are another species that are difficult to find as a pet. When you do find them available for sale, they may be very expensive.

Without exceptional care, these hermit crabs don’t live long, but if they are well cared for, you can expect to keep them for around 20 years.

Unlike the previous hermit crabs we have talked about, all of these animals require an aquarium to live. These marine hermit crabs often do best in an already set-up saltwater aquarium.

You may not want to house small marine hermit crabs with predatory and aggressive fish though. Clownfish, pufferfish, triggerfish, sheepshead, even goldfish, and bettas are not good hermit crab tank mates. These fish will most likely eat your hermit crabs.

Marine hermit crabs can live for 10 or more years in the wild, but they don’t do so well in captivity. With proper care, you may keep your hermit crabs for 2 to 5 years, but it all depends on the species, and how old they are when captured.

It’s very difficult to determine the age of hermit crabs so you may get one that’s only a few months old, or you may already get a geriatric hermit. You never know.

Again, there are hundreds of species of marine hermit crabs, but we have only included the most popular and available ones here.

9. Dwarf Hermit Crab

Dwarf Hermit Crab (Clibanarius sp) on a rocky surface somewhere in Mulege, Mexico, North America
Dwarf Hermit Crab (Clibanarius sp) on a rocky surface somewhere in Mulege, Mexico, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Diogenidae
  • Scientific Name: Clibanarius sp
  • Other Names: Red tip hermit, Red leg hermit, Equal handed hermit crab
  • Adult Size: 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
  • Average Price Range: $12 to $15

Marine hermit crabs are great additions to your aquarium because they help to clean algae and eat leftover fish food. They will also eat sickly fish because they are scavengers and that’s their job.

You will still have to care for them, provide supplemental food, and be sure the temperature and water need mesh with your fish already so everyone lives in a harmonious balance.

Dwarf hermit crabs are tiny, only maxing out at about an inch long. They do well with other fish, and it’s recommended that you get a few dwarf hermit crabs because they tend to live longer when they have similar tank mates.

While they are often called Red legs, or Red tip hermits, they come in different colors, especially blue. 

Just like land-dwelling hermit crabs, you should keep several different sizes of shells at the bottom of your tank. You never know when your little “hermie” may want a change of scene or needs a little bit more room.

10. Polkadotted Hermit Crab

Polkadotted Hermit Crab (Phimochirus operculatus) walking out of a cave-like area in Bonaire, South America
Polkadotted Hermit Crab (Phimochirus operculatus) walking out of a cave-like area in Bonaire, South America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Paguridae
  • Scientific Name: Phimochirus operculatus
  • Other Names: Polka dot hermit
  • Adult Size: Up to 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $40

Another tiny, aquatic hermit crab, the Polka Dot is a very active species. These crabs are popular because of how active they are. You’ll often see them zooming across the bottom of the tank.

As their name suggests, they are covered in dots and have dotted, or striped patterns on their legs. Their large cheliped is white-tipped. When they retreat into their shells, it may appear that a snail is in the shell instead of a colorful hermit crab.

Polka Dots hail from the Caribbean and will help to clean up detritus and algae from your tank. They usually get along well with docile fish but may snack on, or remove snails to get to their shells if there aren’t enough extras lying around.

11. Electric Orange Hermit Crab

Electric Orange Hermit Crab (Elassochirus gilli) walking along a mossy rocky ocean floor in British Columbia, Canada, North America
Electric Orange Hermit Crab (Elassochirus gilli) walking along a mossy rocky ocean floor in British Columbia, Canada, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Paguridae
  • Scientific Name: Elassochirus gilli
  • Other Names: Orange knuckle hermit, Pacific Red Hermit
  • Adult Size: up to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $40

As you would expect, the Electric orange hermit crab is very colorful. They have bright orange and brown banded legs. To really set their colors off, they have long, bright blue eyestalks and orange, long antennae.

These aquatic crabs can reach up to 2 inches in length, and they have a voracious appetite for algae. Unless you have a very algae-prone tank, you’ll have to supplement them with dried seaweed to keep them fed.

They also eat leftovers and waste, and they benefit from meat foods on occasion. Dried shrimp or other protein sources are beneficial to this hermit crab.

These hermit crabs come from Hawaiian reefs, so they are one of the very few American species on this list. They like to crawl along the reefs searching for leftover fish parts, and seaweed.

A sandy substrate is most beneficial for this hermit crab. They will sift through it for tiny bits of food.

As they sift the sand and substrate, they also help to aerate it, which can help with beneficial bacteria and overall aquarium health.

12. Halloween Hermit Crab

Halloween Hermit Crab (Ciliopagurus strigatus) nuzzled in a rocky corner of the ocean floor off Wakayama, Japan, Asia
Halloween Hermit Crab (Ciliopagurus strigatus) nuzzled in a rocky corner of the ocean floor off Wakayama, Japan, Asia. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Diogenidae
  • Scientific Name: Ciliopagurus strigatus
  • Other Names: Striped hermit, Orange-Legged hermit, Cone Shell Hermit Crab
  • Adult Size: Up to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $12 to $40

If I was in the market for a hermit crab, I think I’d have to get a Halloween hermit crab. Not only are they stunningly beautiful, but just the name makes me happy. Yeah, Halloween is my favorite holiday!

Being a true hermit, these crabs prefer to be the only of their species in the tank. They will fight with others for food and shells unless you have a large aquarium with a lot of acreage. They do get along well with fish and shrimp though.

Mostly nocturnal, these bright-colored hermit crabs tend to come out when the lights go out.

They eat fish food, both pelleted and frozen, and will help to clean the tank of any waste.

The Halloween hermit has red or orange striped legs and a white cap on its head. They have similarly sized chelipeds that are striped as their legs are.

Like the Electric orange hermit crab, the Halloween hermit hails from Hawaii. They can reach lengths around and even exceeding 2 inches so they are larger compared to other hermit crabs.

13. Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab

Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati) on the course ocean floor sand off Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, North America
Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati) on the course ocean floor sand off Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, North America. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Diogenidae
  • Scientific Name: Paguristes cadenati
  • Other Names: Red Reef hermit, Scarlet hermit
  • Adult Size: 1 to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $30

Probably the most popular marine hermit crab, the Scarlet Reef crab is not only beautiful, but it’s quite docile. They tend to get along with other hermit crabs and fish as long as there’s plenty to eat.

The Scarlet Reef hermit crab has a voracious appetite for algae and aquarium waste. They will especially take care of hair algae, filamentous, and slime varieties. They also keep cyanobacterial levels in check.

When they get your aquarium completely clean, keep them healthy by offering seaweed treats, fish food, and other marine food options.

These hermit crabs, as you would imagine, have bright red legs. Their face and eyestalks are a scorching yellow color that really adds vibrant colors to your aquarium.

The Scarlet Reef hermit crab calls the tropical Caribbean waters home. There they wander among the corals and sponges eating algae, seaweed, and oceanic waste.

FAQs

Are hermit crabs good pets?

Hermit crabs can be great pets. For the most part, they are relatively easy to care for as long as you follow the rules to keep your hermit crab healthy. They are hypoallergenic; for anyone allergic to dogs or cats, hermit crabs can make interesting and long-lived pets. With proper care, hermit crabs can live for 10 to 20 years.

Do pet hermit crabs bite?

Hermit crabs are not aggressive and have tiny mouths that are incapable of causing harm. They may pinch with their large claw if they are frightened or in peril. They may also use their claws to hold on, but they are not trying to cause pain. Until you get used to holding your hermit crab, and it gets used to being handled, you can wear thin gloves if you prefer.

Are hermit crabs hard to take care of?

Hermit crabs do require a varied diet, and most require fresh and saltwater for proper health. They need a certain amount of heat and humidity depending on their species, but generally, hermit crabs are easy to care for. The main reason they don’t live long is because they don’t get the proper care, or are purchased when they are already sick.

Where can I get a pet hermit crab?

While it’s very tempting to purchase a hermit crab from seaside stores, or small vendors along the boardwalk, these crabs are not taken care of and are put through some very sketchy living conditions. Find a proper hermit crab supplier that can answer your questions correctly and know how to properly care for this animal.

You can also search for hermit crab adoption sites. These have healthy hermit crabs that owners no longer are able to care for and are looking for good homes.

That’s All For Now

There you have it, the 13 most popular hermit crabs that you can own as pets. They aren’t difficult to care for, they just need to be understood and have their needs met. When that happens, these cute little crustaceans can live for a very long time.

We hope this has helped you decide whether you want to get a hermit crab as a pet or not. There’s nothing wrong with owning one as long as you care for it properly.

Unfortunately, many that are sold as souvenirs don’t get the care they deserve. Not because people don’t care, but because they aren’t given the right information.

Have a comment or story? Drop us a line.

Let us know what you think, or how you feel about owning hermit crabs. Until then, see you at the next one!

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