If you’re looking for hermit crab toys, the best options are climbing-based.
Wild hermit crabs scuttle over rocks, driftwood, and plant life to explore their world. You can replicate that environment with objects bought at a pet store, but DIY makes hermit crabs affordable.
The best toys for a hermit crab will involve a climbing branch, a climbing net, a piece of bark, and strings or rope. You can combine them with rocks, plastic building blocks, and clay pots.
Hermit crabs enjoy traversing different textures. So, consider adding old cloth, plastic aquarium plants, and aquarium step ledge decorations for variety.
What Do Hermit Crabs Climb On?
Hermit crabs will climb on anything inside their enclosure, including rocks, netting, plants, and other decorations. Also, they’ll crawl up the sides of their tank and upside-down along the lid or net.
This climbing behavior is an instinct that serves hermit crabs well on beaches or in oceans.
According to the Marine Ecology Progress Series, land hermit crabs often climb trees, regardless of the current tide cycle. This activity is for fun, protection, and necessity, as climbing will help a hermit crab:
- Search for food
- Seek shelter from the rain
- Avoid a high tide
- Alleviate boredom
- Escape predators
- Stop other hermit crabs from stealing their shells
- Prepare for the mating season
Of course, aside from bullying, hermit crabs rarely need to climb as a survival tactic.
However, hermit crabs may grow stressed, lethargic, and unhappy if they have nothing to climb. So, providing climbing toys will keep hermit crabs entertained.
Why Do Hermit Crabs Climb on Each Other?
Hermit crabs are best kept in groups of 3 or more. With this setup, you may notice the colony members crawling all over each other, even when there’s plenty of space.
Don’t worry because they’re not trying to hurt or eat each other. Instead, they’re:
Establishing A Hierarchy
Hermit crabs are largely territorial creatures. If a new hermit crab is introduced into the fold, the older hermit crabs will climb on top of it or push it around to establish dominance.
Displaying Molting Aggression
Some hermits may grow more aggressive during the molting season.
So, they may circle, chirp, or climb atop each other. If you have any aggressive hermit crabs, separate them into isolation tanks.
Fighting Over Shells
Hermit crabs will often trade shells to find a better shell for themselves.
Shell trading is orderly, with hermit crabs lining up from the smallest to largest. However, some hermit crabs are more aggressive, so one may attempt to tug the other hermit crab out of its shell to test if this new shell is superior.
Normally, this behavior isn’t concerning, and it might even be fun to watch hermit crabs shove each other to determine who the dominant hermit crab is. However, that changes if you notice one hermit crab actively pinching at the other’s eyes, abdomen, legs, or other sensitive areas.
In this case, separate them or put them in different enclosures. Overly aggressive behavior shouldn’t be encouraged, or you risk one or more of your hermit crabs being badly injured.
Do Hermit Crabs Like to Climb?
Hermit crabs, by nature, love to climb, so you’ll often find them scaling over anything they can. The tips of their tiny legs will find purchase in the smallest dents on any surface, including the tank’s walls.
You must tightly seal this lid to ensure that your hermit crabs don’t escape or hurt themselves on any latches or other mechanisms.
This doesn’t mean you should discourage hermit crabs from climbing, as not all of them climb around their enclosure in search of escape. Sometimes, they need more stimulation.
You can provide things to do by decorating their habitats with fun climbing toys.
DIY Hermit Crab Climbing Toys
Your hermit crabs might not be all that particular about what they climb on or over, making do with any object inside their tank.
However, some climbing toys are more challenging and fun for hermit crabs. You can make climbing toys at home using materials you find.
Here’s a list of the best DIY toys for hermit crabs:
Hermit Crab Climbing Branch
Even a fallen branch from the backyard can be a great toy for your pet hermit crab.
Of course, you’ll have to ensure that this branch is clean and sterile. It should be free of dirt, chemicals, insects, or other irritants that might harm your pet hermit crabs.
Also, consider the type of wood. Cholla wood is a popular choice for hermit crab enclosures because the soft skeleton is the remains of a cactus plant.
Your hermit crabs will enjoy climbing all over and occasionally eating it. The wood is hollow and often pocked with small holes, so your hermit crabs can get a better grip.
Consider the position of the climbing branch in the tank. Putting it on its side might entice hermit crabs for a few minutes, but they’ll grow bored and move on to something else.
It’s much better to position the branch at an angle or vertically in the sand like a small tree.
Piece of Bark
A simple piece of bark or driftwood will suffice as a climbing toy. The natural roughness of the bark provides a great hold for hermit crabs to climb.
Of course, you’ll have to clean it before placing it in your tank. Don’t use bark from citrus fruit trees because they contain a natural pesticide.
DIY Hermit Crab Climbing Net
Making a climbing net for your hermit crabs will give them an interesting challenge. You can make one by:
- Cutting a piece of cheesecloth or fishnet
- Inserting hooks on all 4 corners
- Attaching 4 suction cups with string
- Put suction cups at the ends of the tank
This will create a hammock that hermit crabs can scale across. The cloth shouldn’t span the entire enclosure length; it should be a few inches shorter so that hermit crabs can climb up to it.
You could weave a net, which will put your knot-work skills to the test. However, if the net can’t support a hermit crab’s weight, it’ll likely fall and hurt itself.
Here’s a DIY rope net you can make at home:
- Hang a piece of rope or string across 2 lifted platforms.
- Once it’s secure, loop another string through the hanging string.
- Fold that string in half, placing it over the hanging string
- Pull the ends of the new string through the loop.
- Continue this with other rope loops along the length of the hanging string, putting them 1 to 2 inches apart.
- Tie the hanging ends of the 2 strings together in a double knot to create a hole in the net.
- Continue to tie each of the other ends together.
- Once you weave to the bottom, tie off the ends in an extra-secure knot.
Your handmade net should be finished. Hang it inside your hermit crab’s enclosure with suction cups. Then, you can watch the hermit crabs navigate over or around their new hanging toy.
Hanging rope via suction cups inside the tank will provide entertainment.
However, certain materials may be too rough on hermit crabs’ underbellies. Hemp, sisal, and jute ropes are recommended for hermit crabs.
If you have smaller hermit crabs, a thin rope with a diameter of around 1 inch should suffice. However, a thicker rope of around 1.5 inches in diameter is advised if you have larger hermit crabs.
Sturdy Pile of Rocks
Gather a pile of smooth stones for hermit crabs to climb. However, clean the rocks before putting them inside the tank. This cleaning process involves:
- Scrubbing any new rocks.
- Let them soak in a bucket of water with 1-2 parts of bleach for 24 hours.
- Once the 24 hours are up, rinse the rocks and let them soak in a bucket of clear water for 48 hours.
- Change the water every 12 hours until no traces of bleach remain.
You’ll need to arrange the pile of stones in a way that’s not in danger of falling over.
Plastic Building Blocks
Plastic building blocks that can be connected make a colorful toy.
If you want to be even more creative, you can build entire structures or statutes for hermit crabs to climb over. Include several levels of these structures for hermit crabs to explore.
Remove the structure if the hermit crabs begin to chew at these blocks.
Old Towel or Cloth
An old towel or piece of cloth might not sound like the most exciting toy, but it’s fun for hermit crabs to climb. You can tie knots along the cloth to provide extra notches for grip strength.
Use a rougher cloth or old sacks because these will provide better footholds.
You can glue popsicle sticks around a branch to create additional steps. Alternatively, you can use popsicle sticks to create a secure rope bridge or ladder.
Don’t leave open spaces between the sticks to prevent hermit crabs’ legs from getting caught or trapped.
You can use popsicle sticks to make tiny wooden huts or structures, but avoid leaving any exposed glue.
If you have an old flower pot, you can put it inside a hermit crab habitat for them to climb inside or over.
The pot can be half-buried inside the sand to create a one-way tunnel or shade. Also, you can place it firmly upside down for your hermit crabs to crawl all over.
The clay pot is a structure to climb over and provides extra protection. Hermit crabs can hide inside the pot if they become startled or scared. Providing hermits with places to tuck themselves away will give them a sense of control over their environment.
Aquarium Step Ledge Decoration
These intricate step-ledges are often sold as decorations for aquariums, many of which are already pre-made. Fortunately, you can make step decorations.
You can carve steps out of wood or arrange the sand inside the tank into a step-like structure. If you have extra popsicle sticks, you can glue them together to create steps for hermits to climb. You can make intricate stairs out of any extra plastic building blocks.