Hermit crabs make great pets

By Charity Jayne J. Temple, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2010 12:49 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2010 08:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Fancy having a hermit crab in your home?

These shy crustaceans, known as “umang” in the Philippines, are finding their way to more households as families discover the joy of keeping them as pets.

Hermit crabs (Coenobita clypeatus) belong to the same group of crustaceans as red crabs, lobsters, and shrimps.

No toughie: hermit crabs are soft inside out.

Unlike their relatives, however, hermit crabs do not have a tough outer shell. Their exoskeleton or outer skin is not hard enough to protect their soft bodies. That’s why they constantly need to inhabit discarded snail shells or other hollow objects.

“Habang nagmo-molt (outgrowing of skin) at lumalaki siya, nagiging masikip sa loob. Ayaw na niya sa ‘bahay’ na ito at lilipat siya kusa,” explained Howard Go of Lucky Hermits [http://www.luckyhermits.com], a pet store with outlets in SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, and Robinsons Ermita, in an interview on “Umagang Kay Ganda”.

For hermit crab owners, providing shells for his or her pet is a major priority.

One can get natural shells or opt for hand-painted ones which are available in almost every color and design imaginable, from cartoon characters to Christmas scenes.

Dress up your hermit crab's shell any way you want.

Go said they use non-toxic paint on the shells to ensure safety for the crabs and the owners.

Caring for hermit crabs

Hermit crabs are named after men who choose to live a solitary life.

Ironically, these little critters love to be in groups. It is very important, however, to put enough shells in their habitat or “crabitat” to prevent unnecessary competition.

This 'crabitat' (a hermit crab's habitat ) has a resting place for the little critter.

One must also put a small pool of water in the “crabitat” for the pet to drink from and for it to stay moist.

For their diet, hermit food can be purchased from stores and fed to the crabs once a day. They can also survive on bits of fruits, vegetable, and cereal.

Photos by Charity Jayne Temple, ABS-CBN News