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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