The Hermit Crab Association and its members are extremely saddened to hear of the planned promotional event for the opening day game of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The decision to keep hermit crabs should warrant the same amount of consideration as owning any other type of pet and we believe they should never be given away as prizes because of this. Hermit crabs require specialized care and when given the proper environment should live for decades in captivity – they are not in any way a short lived pet.
Lacking the proper care, these hermits crabs will not live for more than a few weeks or months, which will lead to heartache for the small children of hundreds of fans. The plastic terrarium they will be sent home in is only a temporary transport container, and the initial set-up costs of a proper enclosure with new items will generally start at $100 for anyone receiving one of these “free” hermit crabs. This will place a financial burden on the fans of the Blue Crabs, or on the local animal rescues that will be asked to take them in once the details of their needs are learned.
The fact is that millions of hermit crabs are collected from the wild every year, as there has only been a handful of people in the world who have been successful with breeding them in captivity. Smaller crabs are already 5 years old, and the biggest are well over 40 years old. Many do not make it through the collection process and the transport to stores, and others will succumb from the stress of adapting to life in captivity. Many more will die slow deaths in the following weeks and months in tiny plastic cages from a lack of basic care.
Their needs include an enclosure that is large enough for the crabs to move around comfortably while providing enough space for all of their requirements. They dig underground and stay there without surfacing for months at a time to molt, which is how they repair injuries and grow larger. This requires six or more inches of moist cocofiber or slica-based sand, based on the size of the hermit crab. They need to be provided with dechlorinated freshwater and marine grade saltwater deep that is enough to completely submerge. Their temperature requirements are higher than room temperature at 78-85 degrees, and because of having modified gills for breathing they require humidity that is constantly above 70%, or they will slowly suffocate. They are omnivorous scavengers and their diet consists of fruits, vegetables and plant matter, seafood, insects, meat and poultry. While they are a communal species and should always be kept with others of their kind, they do need to be provided enough individual space that they can retreat from disputes, and so they are not discovered and dug up by other crabs while vulnerable from molting.
We are very much hoping that the team will reconsider the giving away of living animals as thank you gifts at this event. There are many other options available, such as plastic figurines or plushies that can become a permanent reminder of what is sure to be an amazing opening game.
HCA: Hermit Crab Association