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Hermit Crab

The 11 Pros and Cons of Hermit Crabs as Classroom Pets

Adding a pet to your classroom may be your next grand idea for your classroom. It is without a doubt that kids love animals and this would excite many students. Having a classroom pet can liven up a dull classroom with a warm and inviting element.

Are hermit crabs good classroom pets? Hermit crabs are said to be intelligent and friendly. They do not need much space and are easy to maintain. However, they can still be pinchers and students will have to be careful while around them.

Hermit crabs are sociable creatures that are a great source for entertainment. They can make wonderful classroom pets as students will enjoy exploring these fascinating critters. Managing the crabitat does involve a great deal of maintenance but it can also be fun to decorate. Every classroom pet has its perks and negative features.

Advantages of a Hermit Crab

Friendly: Crabs like to play with people. Crabs like to crawl all over you and they are intriguing to watch. Keep them in a position where they aren’t going to fall and they likely won’t pinch.

Falling from a height of 3 feet (0.9 m). can be fatal for them, and fear of falling is the number one reason crabs pinch.

Since crabs are sociable creatures, they do well living in groups. The kids can watch how animals interact with one another.

Decorated Crabitat: Natural rocks and seashells that you pick up at the beach are great things to scatter around the “crabitat.” Kids will like decorating the crabs home. You can add all kinds of decor to the tanks and create a beautiful environment.

Let the kids see how the crab interacts with its habitat. Decorating the crabitat can be a fun experience for students. They can all work together to build climbing toys from recycled materials.

Crabs can be fun to look at if you choose to decorate their shells. You can sharpen your design skills and kids will love decorating them. As with other decorations, sterilize the shells before offering them to your crabs. Boiling tends to be the easiest and safest way to do this.

Lifestyle: Hermit crabs can live up to 30 years! Most on average living about 5-10 years though. If you are someone who will devoutly take care of your crab, then you will have a pet for many years to come.

They do not make noises, messes, or bad smells. Other classroom pets like guinea pigs and hamsters will likely cause a slight odor. You can avoid that smell with crabs.

These cute little crustaceans will keep themselves fit, presuming their tank is big enough. They love to climb, and crawl, and pull. You will not have to spend your time walking these animals or buying special equipment.

Pet Hermit Crabs can be accommodated in your busy lifestyle. A few minutes a day taking care of most of their needs increase. You just need a complete cage cleaning once a month.

Educational: Crabs are great pets to observe. Students can learn Alot about animal life by watching these crabs through the cage. They are also very unique creatures which can help kids learn about sea life.

Climbing toys will provide an entertaining show for the students. Hermit crabs love to climb! In fact, in the wild, they will climb large rocks exposed by low tide to search for food.

Pet Hermit Crabs can be accommodated in your busy lifestyle. A few minutes a day taking care of most of their needs increase. You just need a complete cage cleaning once a month.

Hermit Crab 3

Disadvantages of a Hermit Crab

Sensitive: Hermit crabs are sensitive creatures who need the best care and attention to live and prosper. It takes work to set up the perfect “crabitat” and provide the optimum atmosphere and the right types of food, sand, and spare shells for your hermit crabs.

Crabs need a specific humidity and temperature to survive. They also need both fresh and salt water to live in. Cleaning the tank with regular chemicals are toxic to the crabs.

Shedding: Hermit crabs need to be able to bury themselves entirely without disruption as part of their growing process. This process can take multiple weeks. During this time, the crab will not be able to move. So, for several weeks, your child’s patience will be put to the test—handling the crab during this sensitive time will almost certainly kill it.

Pinchers: Hermit Crabs are not good pets to hold. Most children want a pet who they can carry and snuggle with. If held improperly, teased, or forced to come out of its shell, they may pinch and not let go. Keeping your hand taut reduces their ability to grab on, and maintaining a steady walking surface will keep them from being startled. Teach students how to properly the crab or do it yourself.

Non Independent: You should buy more than one. Hermit Crabs are sociable creatures. They do not do well when alone. Buying two instead of one ensures that they will have a friend. Many products marketed directly for use with them are either unnecessarily expensive or improper for use with hermit crabs.

Try to get Hermit Crabs that are about the same size so they don’t bully each other. There is one thing that you have to beware of is when they change shells they may fight for the same shell.

Caring For Your Crab

Suiting Their Lifestyle: There are also land and water creatures. The aquatic ones are good if you have a fish aquarium as they are useful as scavengers for algae and dirt. The land crabs are those normally kept as pets.

Make sure you get the right size of tank. A ten or twenty gallon tank is good for two to four small hermits.

The best way to use lights in a tank is to recreate a day and night cycle that’s similar to what your hermit crab would experience in nature.. Hermit crabs need two kinds of water bowls: one with freshwater and one with salt water.. Hermit crabs need to balance the salinity of the water in their shells; the dishes should be at least deep enough that your crab can get water in its shell.

Create a space for your crab to hide and leave an area clear of obstructions for them to exercise in. Make sure food and water bowls are always accessible. The ideal enclosure for your crab is a terrarium with a removable glass lid. It’s recommended to have 20 litres of space for every two crabs. You can find various options and sizes at your local Petbar.

Managing The Tank: Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place hermit crab in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate. Do not use soaps or detergents to clean aquarium or décor, since they are toxic to hermit crabs.

Make sure your tank is the right temperature. Hermit crabs are tropical animals and do best in warm temperatures. 75-85°F is the proper temperature range. The metabolism of your crab will slow down if the temperature is too cold.An improper environment can cause your crab to become lethargic and inactive, lose limbs and could potentially cause death.

The Cage: Wire cages are not recommended for hermit crabs. Although there are many commercially available, they are not always good homes. Wire cages do not hold humidity well and hermit crabs need high humidity to thrive.

Sand is one of the most important elements of a crabitat, but don’t feel that you need to buy specially branded “hermit crab sand.” Most hardware stores will sell clean play sand, sometimes branded as “high desert sand.” You can get sand from the beach. Be aware of a musty smell, which is a classic warning sign that the sand has been contaminated by moisture.

Aqua Life: Table salt contains iodine which is harmful to hermit crabs. Shell water is used to hydrate their gills and they control the salinity by switching between fresh and saltwater. Be aware of a musty smell, which is a classic warning sign that the sand has been contaminated by moisture.

Hermit crabs need two kinds of water bowls: one with freshwater and one with salt water.. Hermit crabs need to balance the salinity of the water in their shells; the dishes should be at least deep enough that your crab can get water in its shell.

Over time, the water side of the bank or beach will gradually wash into the water area, and so you will need to make provision to support the bank by means of forming dams with aquarium furniture or driftwood in order to help the beach area to retain its shape.

Maintaining Water: Even though the water area will be small and relatively shallow, you should still provide some means of filtration for the water in order to keep it clean and avoid it from stagnating. A small aquarium filter that can fit underneath the water level is ideal.

These will help you to monitor and maintain a 75-85% relative humidity.[2]Hermit crabs breathe through (hardened) gills, and can’t breathe properly unless the air is humid enough. The ideal range is at least 75% relative humidity. Low humidity will slowly suffocate and painfully kill your crab.Crabs will quite happily eat fish, and so aquarium fish should not be kept in the water part of a crab tank!

Hermit Crab 2

Healthy Eating

Unfortunately, commercial crab foods do not make a good diet for hermit crabs. They tend to contain preservatives. The real problem is that commercial foods are boring. Crabs don’t like to smell the same meal twice in a row. They will be happiest if every meal is a little different. Crabs are beachcombers who scavenge for food along the shore.

As omnivores, they require both meat and plant matter in their diets. Wash all fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your crabs, and use de-chlorinated water to do it. Always do everything you can to keep your crabs away from chlorine. Hermit crabs take small bites and eat very slowly, usually at night.

Hermit crabs are extremely sensitive to metal. Be sure their food and water bowls are ceramic or another nonmetal, non-porous material.

Crabs need calcium. Use a calcium supplement for crabs as per the instructions — like other arthropods, hermit crabs need a lot of calcium to form their hard exoskeletons.

Indication of a Healthy Crab

  • Active scavenging
  • Healthy appearance
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Sociable
  • Molting

Shells and Molting

Molting: A smaller hermit crab will require less living space. A smaller crab will molt more frequently than a large crab. Which is likely of interest to your students. Hermit crabs can be vulnerable while molting, because their bodies are soft.

Isolate them from their roommates during this time. Usually molt once or twice a year; will bury itself in the sand. Don’t disturb the process as the crab is very fragile. Protect the molting crab by placing a divider in the tank or moving the other crabs to another tank.

Shells: The addition of one new, clean shell can sometimes cause a chain of shell swapping. One hermit crab will discard their current shell and move into the new one, prompting another hermit crab to move into the first crab’s discarded shell, and so on.

Dominant hermit crabs will sometimes forcibly evict another hermit crab from their shell, leaving them homeless and vulnerable until they find a new shell.

Land hermit crabs can be seen walking around in their enclosure day and night. They are quickly startled by movement or vibrations, causing them to retract themselves completely into their shells.

In other instances, a hermit crab may abandon their shell if the humidity or temperature within the shell is not at the optimum level.

Hermit Crab 1

Get To Know Your Crab

You should be able to diagnose some of the common illnesses on your pet. Look for some of the symptoms below.

  • Decreased appetite or activity
  • Staying outside of the shell
  • Excessive molting
  • Lost claws or limbs
  • Strong odor from inside the shell

Hermit crabs can have different personalities, which is another great reason to have more than one crab in your classroom habitat. Some will be more outgoing and curious than others. To hold a hermit crab, put the crab in the palm of your hand and keep your palm flattened so the crab can’t grab onto it.

It’s interesting to watch crabs interact with each other. Crabs will push and climb over each other, and wave their feelers at each other.

Types of Crabs

In the United States there are two main species commonly sold as pets. The descriptions below describe those two.

Coenobita clypeatus: It is native to the Caribbean and has many common names, such as purple pincher (abbreviated to PP), land hermit crab, tree crab, soldier crab, and Caribbean crab.

Coenobita compressus: Whose common name is Ecuadorian Crab. Purple pincher crabs have very round eyes, but may have a slightly flattened lower portion to the eye.

It is well-known that Ecuadorian crabs are usually about 50% more active than similarly-sized PP crabs. They run much faster than PP crabs and can seem to run in all directions at once — forwards, backwards, even sideways! It’s a common complaint of owners of Ecuadorian crabs that they don’t like to switch shells as often as the PP crabs.

The two most readily available and commonly kept land crab species in the UK are the Rainbow Land Crab. The rainbow land crab is brightly coloured in hues of purple, blue, orange and cream, while the Halloween land crab usually has a black body and orange legs with purple markings on the claws. Both species of land crab are brightly coloured and visually very pretty!

About Having A Classroom Pet

While research has shown that classroom pets can be stimulating and help to enrich a students’ experience, you must know which animals are the best to get, and which are not. Classroom pets can be a lot of work, and if you would like to teach your students some responsibility, then they can be a great addition to your classroom.

Children will learn empathy and get a real sense of how it is to take care of another living being. Pets are a lot different than them taking care of toys. A classroom pet provides a crucial bond to the natural world that enhances your students’ health and well-being.

All animals can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans. Pets will teach kids responsibility.

Helping to take care of a pet gives a child a sense of pride and accomplishment, especially if the animal is able to return the affection.

Are You Ready to Buy A Hermie?

Hermit crabs are great pets that thrive in the right tank set up. They’re social animals that live in large groups in the wild so it’s best for them to live in pairs if not larger groups.

Overall, hermit crabs need companionship, plenty of climbing room, substrate to bury themselves in for molting, humidity, warm temperatures, extra shells, fresh and salt water (dechlorinated aquarium salt only), and much, much more! They can be pretty awesome classroom pets.

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