Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 10:06 am
All pet hermit crabs begin their lives in the wild, suggesting they can happily live outdoors. Unfortunately, hermit crabs can’t be kept outside because it’s very stressful and reduces their chances of survival.
Hermit crabs require a temperature of about 80°F and humidity of 80% to survive. They’re ectothermic animals that depend on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
Hermit crabs won’t survive overly hot or cold conditions in the summer or winter. Additionally, humidity is necessary for them to breathe through their gills and avoid respiratory distress and suffocation.
Hermit crabs are vulnerable to predators if kept outdoors, particularly in an open enclosure. Predators like birds, stray or feral cats, foxes, and raccoons hunt and eat hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs can grow bored in captivity, so changing the scenery may help them adapt to life. Taking hermit crabs outside for brief periods is possible, but it’s not an experience they’ll enjoy.
Advantages of Taking Hermit Crabs Outdoors
If you take precautions, there “may” be benefits to taking hermit crabs outside. These include:
Change of Scenery
Transitioning from living in the wild to captivity is exceptionally stressful for hermit crabs.
This sudden change often leads to post-purchase syndrome (PPS), an anxiety-centric condition that defines the initial days of a hermit crab’s life as a pet.
You can minimize the impact of PPS by taking them outside for 10-15 minutes. This change of scenery may help hermit crabs adjust because they’re safely exposed to outdoor life.
Only take a hermit crab tank outside if the occupants are already active. Never dig up a hermit crab with PPS hiding under the substrate because this disturbance will exacerbate their stress.
As hermit crabs begin life in the wild, with an entire beachfront to explore, the four walls of a 10-gallon tank can feel restrictive. Time spent outdoors allows hermit crabs to satisfy their instinct to explore.
Hermit crabs may even take this opportunity to hunt insects, although it’s likelier they’ll scavenge for food, like fruit fallen from a nearby tree.
This spirit of adventure must be tempered. Provide barriers that prevent hermit crabs from escaping because they can be hard to monitor and find if they get away.
Hermit crabs can only get limited exercise in captivity, especially when sharing a tank. You can provide the opportunity to climb, but there are limitations regarding what you can offer.
Taking hermit crabs outside gives them a larger area to climb and explore, albeit temporarily.
Disadvantages of Taking Hermit Crabs Outdoors
There are more risks than rewards to taking hermit crabs outside.
If you’re going to do so, think long and hard about the potential hazards and how you can minimize them. Only take hermit crabs outside for a short period when you can keep them safe.
Hermit crabs are prey animals. According to the Journal of Physiology, hermit crabs will likely display fight-or-flight instincts when presented with unfamiliar terrain.
Ensure the hermit crabs can’t flee their outside enclosure and escape your line of sight.
Hermit crabs will be near-impossible to find in the long grass of a backyard lawn because they won’t survive for long once exposed to predators and extreme temperatures.
Hermit crabs, being ectothermic creatures, don’t generate body heat. They limit or expose themselves to external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
Hermit crabs must live in warm climes, between 72–84°F, with 80°F considered the sweet spot. If the temperature falls from this safe level, hermit crabs’ lives will be in danger.
As the temperature drops below 72°F, hermit crabs grow increasingly weak, unwell, and stressed.
A hermit crab will likely retreat into its shell and seek somewhere to burrow to retain warmth, but this will be insufficient. Hermit crabs can’t slow their metabolism and hibernate.
This lack of warmth will cost a hermit crab its life as it’ll lose the ability to move and freeze to death.
Lack of Humidity
Land-based hermit crabs breathe through gills kept open and moist by living in humid conditions. The recommended humidity level for hermit crabs is about 80%.
Hermit crab gills begin to blister, scar, and close up when exposed to dry conditions without sufficient moisture in the air. This means hermit crabs are subjected to a slow death by suffocation.
Hermit crabs are at the bottom of the food chain and have no shortage of enemies. You must observe and protect hermit crabs from wild animals and birds.
Putting walls around a hermit crabs’ recreation area will go some way to keeping away cats, dogs, foxes, and raccoons. You must remain constantly vigilant, as predators are opportunistic and move quickly.
Walls won’t protect hermit crabs from birds. Avian predators are among the main risks to wild hermit crabs. A bird may swoop and claim a hermit crab, flying away before you can do anything.
Being outdoors means hermit crabs could be exposed to parasites like mites. When adding moss and wood to a hermit crab tank, parasites can also be introduced.
Loss of Senses
Equally, hermit crabs rely on the scent of saline water to activate their sense of smell.
According to Animal Behavior, hermit crabs rely on aromas to recognize each other. If a hermit crab can’t pick up scents, familiar or otherwise, it’ll likely grow disoriented.
According to Behavioral Ecology, if a hermit crab is surrounded by ambient noise, it’ll grow confused.
Anthropomorphism is where humans attribute our needs, emotions, and behaviors to animals. Unfortunately, the needs of humans and hermit crabs differ starkly.
Supervised time outdoors in a secure area or tank for 10-15 minutes is okay, but most hermit crabs will find the experience stressful. They won’t find the experience enjoyable or enriching.