Last Updated on: 12th October 2022, 01:43 pm
At first glance, reptiles and hermit crabs have similar needs in captivity. Both live in a tank or vivarium, require high temperatures to remain comfortable, and rely on a contrast of light and dark to thrive.
Unfortunately, hermit crabs and reptiles differ in just as many respects. The critical concern is temperature and humidity in a habitat. Many reptiles are native to desert conditions and need hot, dry surroundings to thrive, but hermit crabs rely on moisture to breathe comfortably.
Consideration is also necessary due to the predator and prey relationship between reptiles and hermit crabs. Some snakes, turtles, or lizards won’t think twice about eating a hermit crab. Shared proximity may be stressful for hermit crabs, even if this isn’t the case.
Some breeds of geckos can share a tank with hermit crabs. Geckos aren’t natural predators of hermit crabs; some geckos can tolerate the same heat and humidity levels. Crested geckos prefer humidity levels of around 80%.
Small snakes can coexist with hermit crabs, but this carries risk, as they may fight and cause each other stress. Avoid pairing tortoises with hermit crabs due to size and lifestyle differences. Small turtles can share aquariums with marine or terrestrial hermit crabs.
Reptiles vs. Crustaceans – Differences and Similarities
The Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics stated that hermit crabs are crustaceans, which means they have unique needs surrounding their living arrangements.
It’s understandable why you may think that reptiles are crustaceans. Some of the things reptiles and hermit crabs have in common include the following:
- Both are ectotherms, relying on external heat sources to survive.
- Both live in tanks or aquariums with a substrate on the floor.
- Both need a daily contrast between light and dark.
- Both molt – reptiles shed and regrow their skin and scales, and hermit crabs grow a new exoskeleton.
Note the fundamental differences between hermit crabs and reptiles. A poor choice of pairing can cost both animals their lives. Areas where these two species differ include:
- Many reptiles spend their days above ground, while hermit crabs like to burrow under the substrate during the day.
- Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers, but reptiles prefer to eat live prey.
- Many reptiles need higher ambient temperatures and lower humidity levels than hermit crabs.
- Reptiles are vertebrates, while hermit crabs are invertebrates with an exoskeleton.
- Hermit crabs are primarily nocturnal, while many reptiles are diurnal.
If you still plan to keep hermit crabs and reptiles in a shared habitat, ensure you choose a safe pairing.
Can Hermit Crabs and Snakes Live Together?
The presence of a snake will distress hermit crabs.
While hermit crabs are docile by nature, they pinch when frightened. This can be dangerous to the snake, which may find its skin pierced, and hazardous to the hermit crab if the snake retaliates.
Food may grow confusing if you combine snakes and hermit crabs in a single tank. Snakes only tend to eat once a week, but hermit crabs scavenge for food daily. A hungry snake won’t eat a hermit crab.
The two species prefer different kinds of substrate. Hermit crabs are native to beaches and prefer to live in the sand, while snakes flourish in specialist bedding, such as Aspen.
Snakes and hermit crabs like to burrow under the substrate, potentially getting in each other’s way. Such shared space can upset a molting hermit crab, who won’t wish to be disturbed. You’ll need a substantial tank to give all animals sufficient room.
Can Hermit Crabs And Lizards Live Together?
If you wish to pair hermit crabs with lizards in the same enclosure, you must consider their shared environment. You’ll need to ensure the lizard can flourish in temperatures of 85OF or lower and tolerate the humidity that hermit crabs need to survive.
This humidity is arguably the biggest concern. If hermit crabs are exposed to prolonged humidity below 80%, their gills start to dry, eventually causing them to suffocate.
Some lizards are comfortable with this humidity, but if they’re from the desert, they’ll be accustomed to a more arid environment.
Consider the relationship between lizards and hermit crabs in terms of predator and prey. Lizards may not set out to eat hermit crabs but may bite due to territoriality, which will be stressful for hermit crabs.
Geckos are the safest choice if you wish to pair a lizard with hermit crabs.
Geckos peak in size at 6 inches, including their long tail. This means they won’t be too intimidating to hermit crabs. A vivarium of 30 gallons or larger is recommended.
Many geckos are nocturnal, so both animals will be active simultaneously. Thankfully, there’s no history of geckos eating hermit crabs. Geckos prefer to hide and relax in high places, while hermit crabs remain on the ground when not climbing for recreation.
Discuss your choice with a herpetologist if you wish to pair geckos with hermit crabs. There are many gecko breeds with varying tolerances to humidity and temperature needs.
Can Hermit Crabs Live with A Tortoise?
Tortoises and hermit crabs are best kept separate due to the size discrepancy; tortoises need a much larger enclosure than hermit crabs.
Tortoises prefer to live in the open air, especially during the warmer summer months. This isn’t an option for hermit crabs, who need the enhanced humidity that can only be found in a tank. Exposing a hermit crab to open air for too long leads to suffocation.
These two animals also have different dietary needs. Both enjoy fruits and vegetables, but many tortoises are strictly herbivorous and rely heavily on fiber, keeping protein intake comparatively low. Hermit crabs need calcium and protein to thrive.
Tortoises aren’t social animals. This doesn’t necessarily mean they attack hermit crabs, but they’re unlikely to enjoy the company of another species, which can lead to an ill-tempered living arrangement.
Can You Put Turtles and Hermit Crabs Together?
As per Biology Letters, turtles (aquatic and terrestrial) are smaller than tortoises.
One advantage of pairing terrestrial turtles with hermit crabs is that both will enjoy access to water for bathing and recreation.
You’ll need a big enclosure with a substantial tub that can accommodate a turtle. Provide ramps so land hermit crabs can get in and escape the water before drowning.
Turtles and hermit crabs enjoy many of the same activities but will rarely cross paths. Turtles are primarily diurnal, while hermit crabs will hide until evening.
As with tortoises, the dietary needs of turtles and hermit crabs vary. You’ll need to ensure that both animals have their needs met. Turtles are likelier to be omnivorous, so be wary of the size difference. A large turtle may eat a live hermit crab.
Paring marine hermit crabs with aquatic turtles in a saltwater tank is likely to end poorly. Copeia explains how autopsies on sea turtles have found hermit crabs in their digestive tracts.
Hermit crabs are social but prefer the company of other hermit crabs. So, not pairing hermit crabs with other animals is safer, including reptiles.