Hermit crabs are low-maintenance pets, but this doesn’t mean you can leave them unattended for days or weeks and expect them to survive. Hermit crab care must be provided while you’re on vacation.
Ask a reliable friend, neighbor, or family member to look after the hermit crabs by replacing water and food, checking heat and humidity levels, and performing spot cleaning every 48 hours.
If you can’t find someone to look after your hermit crabs, take them with you. Get a solid, airtight hermit crab travel cage that can be used in a car or plane as a carry-on if the airline permits.
Pet hermit crabs aren’t natural travelers, so a long car journey or flight will be stressful and unsettling.
Can You Leave Hermit Crabs Alone for a Week?
If you take a vacation, you’ll likely be away for at least 1-2 weeks, especially if you’re going abroad.
If you have a detailed approach to hermit crab care, they may still be alive when you return. However, asking somebody to check in on the hermit crabs every 2-3 times is highly recommended.
Feeding and hydrating hermit crabs while on vacation is a priority. It’s also necessary to ensure the hermit crab tank has sufficient light, humidity, and heat levels while you’re away.
Automated approaches help, but you won’t be able to identify and react to real-time problems.
How To Care for Hermit Crabs While on Vacation
Keeping hermit crabs safe while you’re away is a two-step process. The first and most important act is to make preparations so that the hermit crabs benefit from good husbandry.
The second is enlisting the support of a friend, neighbor, or family member and creating an easy-to-follow checklist of tasks, so a complete beginner understands the care needs of hermit crabs.
Pre-Vacation Hermit Crab Care
Before you leave for a vacation, prepare the hermit crab habitat for your absence.
The hermit crabs won’t miss your social presence or interaction while you’re away, but they’ll struggle to survive if you don’t plan and take the necessary precautions.
Before you leave for your vacation, conduct a thorough deep clean of the hermit crab enclosure. Replace the substrate, clean the walls, and sanitize any decorations.
This will minimize the risk of exposure to bacterial hazards, mites infestations, or anything else that requires immediate intervention.
If you change the tank layout, the hermit crabs will have new terrain to explore while you’re away.
Don’t leave the newly-cleaned tank bare. Ensure the hermit crabs have something interesting to do to pass the time while you’re away, such as climbing apparatus and toys.
Add more substrate than you ordinarily would. Hermit crabs won’t object to having more sand to burrow under, and this will protect a hermit crab that enters a molt in your absence.
Secure the lid of the tank, weighing it down if necessary. If hermit crabs escape their habitat while you’re away, they won’t survive, or you’ll likely never see them again.
Check anything electrical attached to the tank, such as lamps. Secure loose wires so they can’t be pinched or cut, and consider getting timer switches for the plug sockets.
If you intend to ask for help while you are away, note the appropriate temperature and humidity levels, and attach these to the tank to jog the memory of whoever is checking on them.
Ensure that any thermometers and hygrometers in the tank are fully operational. If you use electrical appliances for these readings, change the batteries aren’t running low.
Light, Heat, and Humidity
If seasonal conditions dictate that you must apply artificial light or heat sources to a hermit crab tank, use timer switches to ensure your pets enjoy their usual routine.
If it’s scheduled to be particularly cold while you’re away, consider covering the enclosure with a blanket to improve insulation. Likewise, if it’s very warm, find a way to reduce the ambient temperature in the room, such as a tower fan on a timer switch.
Consider getting sponges from an aquatic pet store and leaving these in the hermit crab’s freshwater source. This will increase and maintain the humidity level in the tank.
Food and Water
If you leave hermit crabs without clean drinking water for a week, there’s a distinct risk they’ll dehydrate and perish. Premix and refrigerate fresh, filtered water and saline water before you leave and ask somebody to change the water periodically.
Make it clear that tap water is strictly verboten, as chlorine will kill hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs can survive a week without eating, but surviving isn’t like thriving. Arrange for somebody to change the food every couple of days.
You can lay down enough non-perishable pellets in a hermit crab tank to last a while, but this is unlikely to be effective. As per Animal Behavior, hermit crabs rarely eat the same food twice in 24 hours.
Essential Hermit Crab Care While Away
Once you have identified somebody willing to care for the hermit crabs in your absence, create a checklist of tasks for them to undertake, which should comprise the following duties:
- Check all power sources and ensure nothing is unplugged or overheating.
- Change water supplies on each visit using the supplies you have prepared, and ensure any water bowls remain accessible through ramps.
- Remove and replace any uneaten food.
- Scoop and remove any visibly soiled surface-level substrate.
- Check the lid of the habitat remains secure, refastening if necessary.
- Wipe off condensation from the tank with paper towels.
- Check the hygrometer and mist the tank if humidity is insufficient.
You could also leave instructions on reacting if a hermit crab appears to have evacuated its shell and other behavioral or health-related concerns.
Leaving hermit crabs for a prolonged period opens up a degree of risk. Not everybody is cut out for hermit crab care, even if they have the best intentions.
Can You Travel with Hermit Crabs?
If you feel uncomfortable leaving the hermit crabs while on vacation, you may prefer to take them with you. This is an option, but it could be even more problematic than leaving them at home.
If you successfully negotiate the journey with hermit crabs, they’ll be stressed by the experience. Hermit crabs dislike traveling and will likely experience post-purchase syndrome (PPS) after the journey and again once you return home.
If you remain confident that the hermit crabs are hardy enough to survive the travel experience, you have two options for transporting them over prolonged distances.
Hermit Crab Air Travel
Before boarding a plane with pet hermit crabs, check the airline’s policies. Some will allow you to bring a hermit crab travel cage as a carry-on, while others will refuse to allow them on the journey.
If you’re leaving the U.S., ensure the hermit crabs can enter the destination country. Some countries, even U.S. states, have a blanket ban on bringing live animals into a country.
Never force hermit crabs to travel as checked baggage because they’ll be tossed around with disregard and are extremely unlikely to survive the experience. The temperature and air pressure in the cargo lock will also be unsuitable for hermit crabs.
Concerns regarding air pressure will also apply in the cabin, as this will drop while you’re in the air.
Hermit Crab Road Travel
Taking hermit crabs on a road trip is preferable to putting them on an airplane, but still not ideal. You can’t drive to a vacation destination with hermit crabs alone, so you’ll need at least 1 passenger.
Buy a solid hermit crab travel cage, and bring a spare if they grow disoriented and aggressive, as you may need to separate them. A solid Tupperware pot may be sufficient as a short-term isolation tank.
Fill both travel habitats with enough substrate for all hermit crabs to burrow, as they’ll likely hide under this substrate throughout the drive. Ensure the tank remains warm using a blanket or portable heater and regularly mist to maintain humidity.
Secure the tank, ideally with somebody holding it, so the hermit crabs aren’t bumped and knocked around on the road. Never leave hermit crabs unattended in the trunk for the entire drive.
If you’re planning a vacation, make preparations. Find somebody willing to meet their needs in your absence, and teach them how to care for hermit crabs, so they feel confident doing so without you.