Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 02:28 pm
Part of the joy of having a pet is forging a close bond. You must be realistic about how much affection hermit crabs can show you, but they can grow fond of their owners.
Give a hermit crab time and space if you want it to like you. This is especially important when you bring a hermit crab home because it needs to overcome post-purchase stress (PPS).
Once a hermit crab is more settled, you can earn its trust. Provide same-species company, entertainment, conditions that mirror its natural environment, and a diverse diet.
Hermit crabs learn to recognize humans over time, so be consistent with your behavior. A hermit crab will enjoy your company if you avoid giving it a reason to fear you and provide what it needs to thrive.
Can Hermit Crabs Recognize Their Owners?
Hermit crabs have surprisingly good memories for such small creatures.
Social Recognition in Invertebrates explains how hermit crabs can remember a conspecific based on a single interaction, adjusting future behavior.
According to Ethology, hermit crabs assign a hierarchical structure to their memories. A hermit crab remembers if a tankmate is dominant or submissive, reacting accordingly in the future.
This suggests that hermit crabs can also remember, and thus recognize, their owners. In the wild, hermit crabs have little to do with humans; in captivity, they must interact with us.
Hermit crabs will recognize your scent and behavioral patterns if you act consistently. Eventually, hermit crabs will no longer fear you.
Are Hermit Crabs Affectionate?
Hermit crabs form strong bonds with each other in the wild. Typically living in colonies of up to 100, they protect each other from threats and enjoy social interaction.
This suggests that hermit crabs can forge strong bonds with conspecifics. Hermit crabs forced to live alone in captivity rarely flourish, often enduring short and unhappy lifespans.
Hermit crabs will never be cuddly pets that enjoy physical interaction. If you’re wondering, “Do hermit crabs like to be held?” the answer is no. The best you can hope for is weary tolerance without pinching.
This doesn’t mean that hermit crabs remain indifferent to their owners. Over time, you can gain a hermit crab’s trust. This is the first step toward mutual affection.
How To Get Hermit Crabs To Like You
Seeking undisputed adoration from hermit crabs is a tricky task destined to end in disappointment. After all, nobody can answer the question, “Can hermit crabs feel love?” with certainty.
What is beyond doubt is that you can improve your relationship with hermit crabs. With appropriate care, they’ll realize they don’t need to fear you and actively seek your attention.
Here are some ways you can gain the trust of a hermit crab:
Don’t Force Interaction
If you want a hermit crab to like you, show patience and give it space. Hermit crabs aren’t intended to live in captivity, so adjusting to their new life will take time.
Most hermit crabs bury themselves under substrate for the first few days or weeks of a new living arrangement, known as post-purchase stress (PPS).
If a hermit crab survives PPS, it’ll emerge from the substrate and start to spend more time in the open of its habitat. When the hermit crab demonstrates more confidence, you can interact.
Hermit crabs are likelier to enjoy your company if they’re comfortable in their surroundings. Replicate a hermit crab’s rough living conditions in a tank by doing the following:
- Adopt numerous hermit crabs.
- Keep the tank’s temperature at 80°F and humidity at 80%.
- Fill the tank with at least 6 inches of substrate for digging and burrowing.
- Provide recreation, most notably climbing apparatus and hiding places.
- Ensure your hermit crabs enjoy distinct periods of light and darkness.
- Keep external stimuli that may frighten the hermit crabs to a minimum.
Watch your hermit crabs going about their business within a habitat for a while. Once they settle into their surroundings, take a hands-on approach when bonding with hermit crabs.
We’ve established that hermit crabs are unlikely to enjoy handling.
Perfect your technique to ensure that being picked up isn’t stressful for hermit crabs. If you tame a hermit crab, it’ll cease showing concern about short periods of handling.
The best way to handle hermit crabs is as follows:
- Approach slowly so the hermit crab knows you’re coming.
- Gently grip the back of the shell.
- Place your hand under the hermit crab, stretched tight so there’s no loose skin to pinch.
- Guide the hermit crab onto the palm of your hand and lift it.
- Keep the hermit crab in your palm the entire time. Never hold a hermit crab by the shell and leave its legs dangling midair.
The hermit crab may delicately pinch you while you handle it. This isn’t necessarily a self-defense move, though that’s always possible. Many hermit crabs close a cheliped around a human hand to give themselves something to hold onto.
Once you’ve mastered handling, your hermit crabs will not become defensive when you attempt to pick them up. Some may even crawl up your arm and allow you to hold them for a while.
The longer you hold a hermit crab in the air, the greater the risk of accidentally dropping it. This may frighten the hermit crab or cause damage depending on how and where it falls.
Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers, so they eat almost anything. Animal Behavior explains that hermit crabs prefer not to eat the same food twice in 24 hours.
Mix and match different fruits and vegetables daily, and spice this up with occasional meat.
Protein and calcium are the cornerstone of a hermit crab’s diet because this will ensure the hermit crabs grow and maintain a sturdy exoskeleton.
Once your hermit crabs accept handling, you can try hand-feeding them. This is a great way to earn hermit crabs’ affection, as they associate the scent of your skin with food and pleasure.
If you’re nervous about hand-feeding hermit crabs, start by offering the food through another object.
Use things thin with a round end, like a pen cap. Place some inside this pen cap, allow the hermit crabs to scent it, and place the pen cap in your hand.
The best way to enhance your bond is to allow hermit crabs to eat directly from your skin. Place something sweet and strong-smelling, like jam, on a fingertip.
The idea is to link the smell of yourself and food in the minds of your hermit crabs. Don’t try to hand-feed every meal. Instead, offer them occasional treats to improve your bond.
Once they feel comfortable in their surroundings, hermit crabs love to play.
As hermit crabs love to explore, let them out of their habitat in a secure space occasionally. Creating a playpen on flat flooring is recommended so the hermit crabs don’t wander too far or get lost.
Ensure no other animals are nearby to attack them. If you keep the recreation time safe, hermit crabs will grow confident and look forward to doing the same thing.
Monitor how long hermit crabs are out of their tank. Your home’s temperature and humidity won’t match the tank, so return the hermit crabs before their lives are in danger.
Expecting a hermit crab to bond with you on the level of a mammalian pet is unrealistic. You can still enjoy a rewarding relationship with hermit crabs if you satisfy their instinctive needs.