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Care Sheet For PET Store's. Hand Out & PROMOTE HCRU, For anyone Interested.

Discussion in 'Store's Exposed.' started by Eric, Oct 22, 2004.

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  1. Eric

    Eric "First Molt, A Success"

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    Basic Hermit Crab Care
    v Yay! I’m getting a hermit crab!
    Congratulations on choosing one of my favorite exotic pets! Hermit crabs are clean, disease-free, cute, fun, and inexpensive. Hermit crabs come from tropical regions; therefore, they have a few easy, yet essential requirements for their “home away from home” (which we like to call a crabitat). Once these basic requirements are met, you will find hermit crabs to be a relatively simple yet rewarding pet to care for. Provided the proper high humidity level, a substrate they can dig in, and plenty of fresh and salt water, food, toys, and extra shells, your hermit crab will live up to 25 years and grow from the size of a marble to the size of a baseball!
    o Which one do I pick?
    First, don’t pick just one! Unlike their name would suggest, “hermit” crabs are actually quite social, and get lonely without friends. Crab companions should only be other hermit crabs though; do not place them in the same tank as other reptiles, amphibians, or mammals. A healthy crab will come out of its shell and wave its antennae happily when you place it on your hand (hold your hand flat so it can’t pinch!). Some crabs get scared when you pick them up and stay tight in their shell. If you have observed the crab walking around with its antennae waving, it should be healthy, and with patience will learn not to be scared of you. With practice, you can even hand-feed them!
    o What kind is it?
    All land hermit crab species (except the giant coconut crab) begin with the name Coenobita (C.). They are born in the ocean, but quickly grow up to live on ocean beaches as well as further inland. Do not confuse them with marine hermit crabs, which spend their whole lives in the ocean. The most common kind is the Purple Pincher (C. Clypeatus), which has a big purple pincher with light-orange to dark-red legs. Another kind you are likely to find is the Ecuadorian (C. Compressus), which has smaller claws, gray-green to tan coloring, and big eyes that look like “&lt[​IMG]”. Recently, Ruggies (C. Rugosus) and Indos (C. Brevimanus) have been gaining popularity. Ruggies come in all colors of the rainbow and have stitch-marks on their big claw and a big, bright back left leg. Indos are uniform lavender to dark purple with an unusually large big pincher. Different species can be mixed together, but you should have at least two of each species.
    v So, I need some supplies, right?
    Yep. You’ll need something from each of the following categories, available at pet stores and online:
    o Hermie needs warmth and humidity!
    Humidity gauge (hygrometer)
    Hermit crabs breathe using modified gills: not quite fish gills; not quite human lungs. Their gills must remain moist at all times or they will slowly suffocate. It is therefore essential that their crabitat have sufficient humidity. A humidity gauge, which can be purchased with reptile supplies, is one of the most important crab supplies. Ideal humidity is between 70 and 80% relative. By contrast, most houses are only at 40-50%. Do not let your crabs go below 60% for extended periods of time. Also, do not let your crabitat stay above 80%, or you might get fuzzy mold.
    Temperature Gauge (thermometer)
    Along with humidity, our tropical friend needs warmth. The ideal temperature is between 72 and 79 degrees F. If the temperature falls below 70 degrees for too long, they begin to go dormant. However, unlike hibernating bears, crabbies don’t always survive their dormant state if left cold too long.
    Under-tank heater or moon/night glow bulbs
    One of the more common ways to keep your crabitat warm is to use an under-tank heater (UTH). If you place it on one side of the bottom of the tank, it gives them an option of a cool side and a warm side. The UTH will keep the sand warm, but not the air, so the temperature gauge may not register much change. You can feel the sand with your hand though to make sure it’s not cold. Heat lamps should not be used because they dry out the tank too much, fluorescent lights don’t raise the temperature enough, and heat rocks can burn your hermies. However, low-wattage (15w to 25w) incandescent bulbs in the tank lid work very well at keeping the air and ground warm. Special night- or moon-glow bulbs are the best (since crabs are nocturnal), and they can be kept on at night.
    o Crabby needs a home!
    Glass aquarium or terrarium
    This is by far the best home for your crab. The glass helps keep the temperature stable, and is easy to clean. A 10 gallon tank is very cheap, and an ideal starter-home. A cover for the tank is essential, as it keeps in the extra humidity crabs need to survive. A glass or plexi-glass cover is ideal, but a cheaper mesh cover will also work – provided that you seal about 70% of the mesh with saran wrap to keep in the humidity. A glass cover should be propped open slightly to allow air circulation.
    Critter keepers
    These plastic cages are not recommended as permanent homes, but will work as temporary homes, for transportation, or to isolate molting or sick crabs. They are typically more expensive than a similarly sized glass tank, and the plastic does not retain heat well and breaks easily. The slotted-cover will need to be mostly sealed with saran wrap to keep in humidity – the same as with mesh aquarium covers. Also, wire cages are never a good home.
    o Crab-approved substrates
    Crabs don’t just walk on their substrate, they dig in it! Crabs need to be able to dig and bury themselves to relieve stress, molt, and, well, just for fun! Your substrate needs to be deeper than – preferably twice as deep as – your largest crab. When molting season comes around, you’ll be fascinated by the holes and mounds in your substrate.
    Sand
    Sand is probably one of the best substrates for hermit crabs. When it gets moist, it’s like building a sand castle; the crabs have an easy time playing in it. Playsand, sandblasting sand, and beach sand all work well. Playsand is cheap enough (a couple dollars for 50lbs) that you can just replace it once a month rather than clean it. The downside to sand is that it can be messy. You can bake the sand if you’re worried that it’s contaminated with mildew or bugs.
    Compressed coconut fiber
    This type of substrate comes in brick-shaped blocks. When soaked in water, it expands to fill a tank. Crabs love molting in this stuff, but it has the tendency to bring bugs and insects into the tank during the summer. If you choose to try this, it is recommended that it’s kept in a separate container, with the rest of the tank filled with sand or gravel. This way the mess is contained, and crabs who don’t like it can have an option.
    Crushed coral
    This substrate is often used for reef tanks, and can be expensive, but provides a great source of calcium. The fine-grained crushed coral is easier for the crabs to dig in than the coarse-grained type (it comes in both varieties).
    Gravel
    Some crabs don’t like to walk on messy sand or coco-fiber all day, so gravel is a good option to give them. The crabs still need something to dig in, so you should provide one of the diggable substrates as well, either in a half-n-half setting, or place one in a separate container or partition. The gravel must be smooth to the touch, or it can scratch the crabs’ legs, and it must say “aquarium safe” on the bag.
    Calcium-carbonate sand
    While this sand provides an excellent source of calcium for your crabs, it clumps like cat litter when moistened, so it is unsuitable as a primary substrate, but could be used as an option in a separate container, or sprinkled in the food.
    Bark, wood chips, and dirt
    None of these are good substrates. Bark and wood chips keep the tank too dry, will mold if wet, and crabs can’t properly dig in them. Aromatic woods such as cedar and pine can be harmful to crabs. Dirt will have microbes.
    o Extra shells
    Hermit crabs have a soft, delicate abdomen. In order to keep it protected, they wear shells on their backs. These shells are not a physical part of the crab; rather they are borrowed from other shellfish. As the crab grows, it will need to move into bigger and bigger shells. Some crabs just love to change shells for fun, or to find a better fit. The perfect sized shell has a circular or oval shaped opening the size of the crab’s big pincher; however, some crabs enjoy shells that are either too big or too small for them. Crabs cannot fit their bodies into shells that have thin openings. You should provide at least two shells of each size needed by your crabs. If a crab does not have enough shell choices, he may try to force another crab out of its shell and steal it. Neither you (nor another crab!) should ever try to force a crab out of its shell. Shells should be boiled in water before given to crabs to ensure they are clean.
    o Crabs have to eat and drink too!
    Food and water dishes
    You’ll need to provide three bowls or dishes in your crabitat: one for food, one for fresh water, and one for salt-water. Don’t use metal dishes, because metal in their water is harmful. Be aware that lighter dishes will occasionally be overturned by the crabs! The water dish needs to be big enough to fit a sponge as well as a bathing crab, and to hold enough water to maintain the humidity level of the tank. If you have small crabs, you will need a sponge or rocks in the bottom of the bowl so they don’t drown.
    Sponges
    You’ll need at least two sponges. One sponge should always be in the water bowl because it helps disperse the necessary humidity throughout the tank. The other sponge is so that you can swap them once or twice a week – if a sponge sits wet too long, it can grow harmful bacteria.
    De-chlorinated water
    If you want to use tap water or bottled drinking water, you’ll need to purchase a dechlorinizer/water conditioner (commonly available with fish supplies). Place a few drops (read the label) into a gallon water jug, stir, and let it sit overnight. This will last for a month. The chlorine and other chemicals in tap water can otherwise be harmful to the crabs. Bottled natural spring water is also OK. There is some concern that distilled or RO water may not have all the nutrients crabs need.
    Salt-water
    Most species of hermit crabs live on beaches, and thus require a source of salt-water. Do not use table salt however – the iodine is dangerous to them! Use marine salt, which is sold with fish supplies. It is usually purchased in bags or tubs, and usually one-half cup of salt (read the label, 1lb ~ 1cup) makes one gallon of water. You also need to dechlorinate the salt-water, so follow the above paragraph as well. Providing them with both salt and fresh water allows them to regulate their salinity themselves, which is essential for maintaining their shell water and health.
    Quality crab food and treats
    In the wild, crabs are scavengers and will eat just about everything they come by, from plants to dead animals, but this doesn’t mean you can just feed table-scraps and road kill to your crabbies! They have nutritional requirements just like every animal, so purchase quality commercial crab food and crab treats. If the food comes in pellets, you will need to crush it so the smaller crabs can eat it. You should also add crushed cuttlebone or calcium-sand to the food for a calcium boost. Additionally, you can create your own treats for crabs using the following crab-safe foods: fruit (except acidic fruits such as citrus or tomatoes), especially mangoes, coconuts and papayas; vegetables; nuts; applesauce; raisins; trail mix; peanut butter; honey; cooked egg and meat; fresh fish and shellfish; cereal; crackers; washed leaves and bark of deciduous trees; washed grass; un-buttered popcorn (avoid dairy products); dried shrimp and plankton; and fish flakes.
    o Accessorize!
    They’re climbers!
    Yep, crabs love to climb, exercise, and practice acrobatics, so they’ll need some toys to climb on. Cholla wood, cork bark, and large coral are their favorites, as they are both easy for them to grab on to, and they make a good snack! They will also climb driftwood and wicker baskets. All of these can be found in the reptile and fish sections of pet stores. Make sure any climbing toys are strong enough to support the weight of the crab.
    My spot!
    Just like everyone else, each crab needs their own little “spot” – a safe place to retreat to for sleeping and to relieve stress. You’ll need to provide some type of shelter, such as a hollow half-log, plastic cave, or coco-hut. Crabs will also hide behind fake plants. You should have enough hidey-space for each crab, otherwise your crabitat may be too crowded and this will stress the crabs.
    Are they always this active?
    Hermit crabs are nocturnal, which means they are most active in the evening or at night, and often hide during the day. Sometimes crabs just need time to get adjusted or relieve stress, and will bury themselves for a week or hide in a corner. Crabs love to explore, so re-arranging the tank will often entice them to play around. You can also create a play-pen and place them in there for a few hours and watch them play. But keep an eye on them, or they might escape!
    v Take care of your babies!
    o Daily fun
    Assuming you provide your crabbies with a proper environment, they require relatively low maintenance. You should check the temperature and humidity every day and make adjustments as necessary. For instance, if the humidity is too high, you can prop open the glass cover a bit, or remove a small amount of saran wrap from the mesh. If the humidity is too low, you can prop the cover less, add more saran wrap, add another sponge to the water bowl, or mist the tank lightly with a spray bottle filled with dechlorinated water. You should also remove any fresh food treats from the previous day to prevent spoilage.
    o Weekly fun
    Every week, you should replace the water and food and swap sponges. Rinse the old sponge in water, and then let it dry. Once it is completely dry, microwave it for a couple minutes to sterilize it (don’t microwave a wet sponge!). You should also spot-clean poo from the tank (looks like tiny brown macaroni). If the sand is fine enough, this can be accomplished easily with a fish net.
    o Monthly fun
    You will need to clean or replace your substrate once every 1 to 3 months. If you are going to clean it, you should rinse it under water until it is clean of debris, and then bake it at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. You should also wash the crab toys. Cholla, driftwood, and cork can be microwaved for a couple of minutes while wet to kill any bacteria or mold.
    o Bath time!
    Between once every week and once every few months (opinions vary by crabbers), you can give your crabs a bath. It helps flush out their shells and clean their bums, but can be stressful. Prepare room-temperature water deep enough to immerse you crabbies, and use a dechlorinator that also has a protective slime coat. This helps restore the slime coating on their gills. Do not use it in their regular drinking water though. Place each crab in the water on their back, and when they flip up they’ll flush out their shell. Let them walk around for a minute, and then place them in a container with some paper towels to dry off. You can also take this opportunity to have fun re-arranging the tank
    v Molting time!
    Hermit crabs don’t grow like people. About once every few months to a year, they have to shed their exoskeleton and grow a new one. This is called molting, and it is a very stressful time for your crab. Some warning signs include an ashy texture, blurry eyes, confused antennae, a water sac (looks like a black jelly bean just behind their back left leg), and spending a lot of time around the water dish. If a crab is missing a leg, you might see a small ball of clear gel begin to grow – your crabbie may regenerate its leg during the molt! Some crabbers will place pre-molters in a separate tank, called an ISO, to help them through this difficult time. High humidity and warmth are essential to a successful molt. Your crab will likely dump water on the sand and completely bury so you can’t even find him anymore. You should not regularly dig up buried crabs, because it can be stressful to disturb a molting crab. If your crab molts on the surface, you should cover him with the top-half of a pop bottle (with the cap open for air) to prevent the other crabs from bothering him. If you pick up a molter, it may look like a dead crab falling out. Check way back in the shell for a newly molted crab before starting the funeral; the “dead crab” may have just been his exoskeleton! He will need to eat the old exoskeleton in order to regain the lost calcium and nutrients, so don’t take it away. Anywhere from a week to a month later, his new exoskeleton will finish hardening, and you’ll have a brand-spankin’-shiny-new hermit crab strutting his stuff!
    v Learn more, and talk with your crabbing buddies!
    There’s a whole community of crab-lovers out there. Any time you have a problem, or want to learn more about hermit crabs and crab care, or just want to chat with other crab owners, stop by this website/forum:
    www.HermitCrabsRus.com - Sign Up With ~HCRU~ Now.
    Other Links To Us Below:

    www.HermitCrabForum.com

    www.LandTreeCrabs.com

    www.PetHermitCrabs.com

    www.HermitCrabbing.com

    www.HermitCrabZ.com
     
  2. Eric

    Eric "First Molt, A Success"

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    The above is a basic draft. If anyone wants to add colors and make it more compact to fit on one page please do so a send to HermitCrabForum@aol.com. Will be much appreciated. The paragraphs also need to be aligned obviously. Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help with this situation.

    Cappa
     
  3. SuperMom

    SuperMom "First Molt In Progress"

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    [​IMG] Great job Cappa. I think everyone should have to read this befoe purchasing any hermies. [​IMG]
     
  4. CudaCrabby

    CudaCrabby "Preparing For First Molt"

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]I agree FANTASTIC job!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. mari61960

    mari61960 "Never Molted"

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    Awesome....I know of a few Pet store owners that should read it [​IMG]

    Red Sox Rock
    Go Papi [​IMG]
     
  6. SuperMom

    SuperMom "First Molt In Progress"

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    [​IMG] I'm taking it in to my Petco Mon., they are pretty cool so they may actually attach it to theirs. [​IMG]
     
  7. Eric

    Eric "First Molt, A Success"

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    Sounds good Supermom. Did you get it to look neater and more alligned? I have a little better version in email with colors if you PM me your email addy i will send you it ASAP.

    Cappa
     
  8. SuperMom

    SuperMom "First Molt In Progress"

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    [​IMG] Thanks Cappa I pm ya [​IMG]
     
  9. SuperMom

    SuperMom "First Molt In Progress"

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    [​IMG] BTT [​IMG]
     
  10. DontCallMeDotty

    DontCallMeDotty Hi, I'm New Here!

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    I'll post that to my AOL Hermit Crab board & my Yahoo groups!
     
  11. Eric

    Eric "First Molt, A Success"

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    Thanks Heather. Great to have you aboard with all of us at HCRU.

    Cappa [​IMG]
     
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