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Best Substrate for Hermit Crabs – Avoid Deadly Mistakes


Coenobita variabilis

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Vanessa Pike-Russell

I’ve had the good fortune of working with many species of terrestrial Hermit Crabs, including the unbelievably huge Coconut Crab (Birgus latro).  Most are surprisingly long-lived – for example, the species most commonly sold in pet stores (the Caribbean Hermit Crab, Coenobita clypeatus) can survive for 20 or more years if properly cared for!  We’ve learned a great deal about Hermit Crab captive needs over the years, but serious mistakes are still commonly made when it comes to hermit crab substrate choice.  The ability to successfully molt and form a new exoskeleton, and to survive the attacks of cage-mates during this dangerous time, hinges upon the substrate.  Even if all else is perfect, Hermit Crabs will expire long before “their time is due” if they do not have access to appropriate substrates of the correct depth.
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2012’s New Species – Spiders, Roaches, Millipedes, Wasps – Which is your Favorite?

Trogloraptor marchingtoniHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Invertebrate enthusiasts have learned to expect the discovery of fantastic new species on a regular basis.  But even old timers such as I were shocked by some that came to light this past year. Large, claw-bearing Cave Robber Spiders, giant bio-luminescent roaches, brilliant arboreal tarantulas, neon-colored freshwater crabs, dive-bombing wasps…the list boggles the mind.  Today I’ll highlight a few that have entranced me; please post your own favorites (whether covered here or not) below.

Cave Robber Spider, Trogloraptor marchingtoni

The Cave Robber Spider, arguably 2012’s most “otherworldly” discovery, turned up in a place not known for hiding unseen species – southwestern Oregon.  In fact, not a single new spider has been described in the USA in the past 130 years.  Read More »

Land Hermit Crabs and Coconut Crabs (the world’s largest) as Pets

Coconut CrabHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  People are often surprised to learn that Land or Terrestrial Hermit Crabs engage in complex social behaviors, are capable of communicating via “chirps” and, with proper care, may live for over 20 years.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with them at home, in zoos and the wild, and have even kept the massive, awe-inspiring Coconut Crab.  Please read on to learn about their care and natural history, and be sure to post your own thoughts and experiences.

Natural History

The Purple-Pincher or Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) is the most common pet trade species.  It ranges throughout the Caribbean, reaching as far north as Florida and Bermuda. 

Some populations live at altitudes of over 3,000 feet, but females return to the sea, usually in one massive migration, to spawn. The larvae, or zoea, float about with plankton for 2 months, after which they take up life on land. Read More »

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