Before getting hermit crabs, you need to understand their complex food and hydration requirements.
Hermit crabs thrive in tropical conditions, so high temperatures and levels of humidity are a must. This means that hermit crabs need drinking water to survive.
Hermit crabs need two water sources, one fresh and one saline.
They scoop water into their mouths using their claws or store water in their shells. Drinking water keeps hermit crabs hydrated and ensures they can breathe safely.
Not all water is appropriate for hermit crabs. You can’t just offer hermit crabs tap water, as you would mammalian pets, as it’s toxic to them.
Do Hermit Crabs Need Water to Survive?
Water is a cornerstone requirement of captive hermit crabs, alongside food and substrate. Always ensure that hermit crabs have at least two water sources in their habitat. These should be:
- Unchlorinated freshwater
- Unchlorinated water mixed with marine salt
In the wild, hermit crabs have access to both fresh and seawater. This must be replicated in captivity, providing hermit crabs with a choice. Your hermit crabs will alternate between these water sources for drinking and bathing.
As bathing water can get murky, two water sources are a minimum requirement. As hermit crabs eliminate inside their shells, waste will end up in the water. Hermit crabs eat feces, so this is not the end of the world. Even so, changing the water daily is advisable.
What Temperature Should Hermit Crab Water Be?
Hermit crab drinking water should be served at room temperature. The habitat of your pets will ape a tropical climate, and the water will quickly warm up once placed inside.
This means that you should never provide hot – or even lukewarm – drinking water. Hermit crabs will submerge in the water without acknowledging the temperature. Gradually this will increase, causing harmful burns before the hermit crab realizes that it’s in danger.
Equally, avoid placing ice cubes in water, even on a hot day. This can cause the body temperature of hermit crabs to plummet sharply. If the body temperature of hermit crabs drops by below 72 degrees Fahrenheit, they are at imminent health risk.
It should be simple to serve drinking water to hermit crabs at an appropriate temperature. Use a cold tap, or store bottled spring water at room temperature, not in the fridge. If the water is noticeably warm or cool, let it settle before placing it in a habitat.
Do Hermit Crabs Drink Water?
Yes, hermit crabs drink water to survive. As per Proceedings of the Royal Society, wild hermit crabs drink seawater for hydration. In captivity, hermit crabs are likelier to gravitate toward freshwater to drink.
How Do Pet Hermit Crabs Drink Water?
The most common drinking technique of hermit crabs is scooping water into the mouth. Some hermit crabs will also drink by fully submerging into a body of water, though.
Hermit crabs drink by approaching a water source and sitting beside it. Hermit crabs scoop water with their large claw, then guide into their mouth with their smaller claw. Most hermit crabs spill more water than they fit into their mouths.
This means the hermit crabs may spend a long time at the water bowl. This should not raise any significant concern. Hermit crabs may also toss water onto their gills to aid breathing.
If hermit crabs struggle with their coordination or shed their claws, they may drink by fully submerging in water. This could be salty or freshwater. Do not be alarmed as your hermit crabs will not drink to excess.
They may just be storing water in their shell for future refreshment. This water will also trickle down the body of the hermit crabs, hydrating the gills. As per the Italian Journal of Zoology, this is standard behavior in hermit crabs and nothing to worry about.
How Often Do Hermit Crabs Drink Water?
Happy, healthy hermit crabs will drink water daily. This may not always involve scooping water from a bowl. They may rely on water stored within their shells. Constant hydration is critical for hermit crabs, though.
Look out for warning signs of dehydration in your hermit crabs. These include lethargy, pale skin, and excessive digging. The former is caused by the slow suffocation associated with a lack of water. The latter suggests the hermit crabs are seeking moisture in the substrate.
If things get dire, consider the use of a syringe to hydrate hermit crabs. Do anything you can to prevent things from getting this far, though. Hermit crabs refusing to hydrate should result in immediate action. Just remember, this does not always mean lapping at a bowl.
My Hermit Crab is Not Drinking
It can be worrying if a hermit crab refuses to drink water. They may be hydrating in different ways than what you expect. As discussed, some hermit crabs drink by submerging in water.
If hermit crabs bathe for 20 minutes at a time, they will drink water in the process. This is not ideal, though. Bathing water will be soiled by substrate, feces, and other foreign bodies. A separate drinking bowl is preferable.
Some hermit crabs are reluctant to hydrate by lapping at a water bowl for their own reasons. If your hermit crabs deliberately tip over water and burrow, they are absorbing moisture and water from the substrate. Again, this is rarely sustainable.
If you have a stubborn hermit crab that refuses to drink, consider the use of sponges in an aquarium. Sponges can be a pain to bring into your routine. They need to be constantly rotated and replaced. Some hermit crabs find them invaluable for hydration, though.
My Hermit Crabs are Drinking to Excess
Oftentimes, animals drinking more water than usual is a cause for concern. It suggests a problem with the internal organs or the risk of impending diabetes. This is not necessarily the case with hermit crabs.
If your hermit crabs are spending more time than usual in water, look out for some of these additional behaviors and physical signs.
- Eating more than usual
- Growing more lethargic
- Skin fading to a duller shade
- Glazed, milky look in the eye
- Restlessly digging in multiple spots
In unison, these symptoms suggest that hermit crabs are preparing to molt. Hermit crabs store more water in their shell ahead of this process. This means they will not need to surface until the molt is complete – they have a water source available underground.
All the same, keep an eye on the temperature and humidity in the habitat. If the humidity has dropped below 80%, hermit crabs struggle to breathe. This drinking may be a desperate attempt to moisten the gills further.
Equally, hermit crabs can grow too hot. A temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit is typically recommended in an aquarium. If they look uncomfortable, reduce this. Drinking excessively could be an attempt at cooling off.
Do Hermit Crabs Need Water Bowls or Bottles?
Hermit crabs cannot consume their water from bottles mounted to the side of a cage. You cannot recycle a water bottle previously used for a small pet, like a hamster. Hermit crabs need bowls.
All the same, the needs of these bowls also differ from the usual. A small porcelain bowl is not suitable. As discussed previously, hermit crabs need to submerge in water, whether fresh or saline. This means the vessels must be at least as large as your biggest hermit crab.
These bowls must not be made of metal. Many metals contain compounds that are toxic to hermit crabs. Porcelain bowls are fine, as long as the hermit crabs can get in and out. Consider the weight of the bowls in this instance, though. If the hermit crabs tip them over, you’ll need to replace the water constantly.
Visit an exotic pet store and take a look at water bowls and dishes designed for reptiles. These are typically heavy enough to their weight and deep enough for submersion. This can make them ideal for the hydration needs of your hermit crabs.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Tap Water?
Hermit crabs must never be offered water straight from the tap. No matter how superior the water quality in your area may be, it will contain the cleaning chemical chlorine. Tap water also often contains copper, which is also lethal to hermit crabs.
To make tap water safe for hermit crabs, it must be run through a purifier. You could also try dechlorinating drops, but these are less reliable than a purifier. However you choose to remove chlorine from tap water, it is a non-negotiable step.
You can add marine salt from an exotic pet store to purified water to create saltwater. Never use table salt for this. This store cupboard staple contains iodine, which is harmful to your pets. Saltwater enhances the senses of hermit crabs, most notably their sense of smell.
Can Hermit Crabs Drink Distilled Water?
Distilling water is an alternative to getting a water purifier. If you heat water on a stove or cooker top, it can be distilled and potential contaminants removed. This can be a time-consuming process, though. To distill water for your hermit crabs, follow these steps:
- Fill a large pot with tap water over a heat source, with a small pot floating on top.
- Turn on the heat and place an upside-down lid over the large pot to trap moisture.
- Place ice within the lid. The temperature contrast speeds up distillation.
- Water for the tap water to turn to vapor then return to liquid within the smaller pot.
- Wait for the distilled water to reach room temperature and offer it to your hermit crabs.
Can Hermit Crabs Drink Bottled Water?
Bottled spring water is arguably the easiest solution for hermit crabs. This water source will be devoid of harmful chemicals and safe for drinking and bathing alike. You can still add marine salt to spring water.
Just keep the lids before applying to a hermit crab enclosure. As per the Journal of Hazardous Materials, wild hermit crabs tend to become trapped in plastic bottles. Prevent this from happening to your hermit crabs by restricting access.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Sparkling Water?
Research into carbonated water for pets is limited. In hermit crabs, it is virtually non-existent. While this means that sparkling water is not strictly verboten, there is no reason to offer it to hermit crabs.
Some hermit crabs may be interested in the sound of the bubbles. This is about as far as it goes, though. The bubbles will not last forever. Eventually, the water will settle. The carbonation may also cause digestive issues.
What’s more, Marine Ecology Progress Series explains that higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere cause acidification to ocean waters. This dulls the senses of hermit crabs. As sparkling water contains carbon dioxide, the same may happen with drinking water.
With all this in mind, it seems there is nothing to gain by offering sparkling water to hermit crabs. It could cause unforeseen damage, though. Stick with still spring water if offering bottled hydration to your pets.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Flavored Water?
As hermit crabs have a sweet tooth, flavored water may seem like a great solution to stubborn hermit crabs. The scent and sweetness of fruit-infused water may tempt hermit crabs to approach a bowl. This is not necessarily a good idea, though.
Store-bought flavored water is rarely pure. Unless you can be certain what is included, it’s best avoided. The sugar content alone can be problematic. Hermit crabs do not gain weight but obtain energy from sugar. Too much can cause hyperactivity and aggression.
If your hermit crabs are reluctant to approach the water, consider improvising a little. You could strain the juices from strawberries or grapes into the water. This, again, is not a permanent solution, though.
Any sweet-smelling and tasting water that spills onto the sand will attract flies and other bugs. If the water is sticky, it may even lead to hermit crabs growing trapped within their shells.
Offer two pools of water. One should contain fresh filtered or purified water. The other can contain the same core H2O but mixed with ocean salt.