Do Hermit Crabs Like to Be Held? The Truth About Handling

Hermit crabs are fascinating, unique creatures that make great pets for those willing to put in the time and effort to care for them properly. However, potential hermit crab owners often wonder if these animals like to be held. In this blog post, we’ll explore the topic of hermit crab handling, including their behavior, needs, and how to interact with them safely.

What Are Hermit Crabs?

To start, let’s take a quick overview of what hermit crabs are and what they need to thrive.

Overview of Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are small crustaceans that live inside of empty seashells. They’re social animals that naturally cluster together in large groups in the wild. Hermit crabs grow throughout their lifetime, which means they’ll need increasingly bigger shells to call home.

Types of Hermit Crabs

There are many different species of hermit crab, but the most commonly kept pet species is the Caribbean hermit crab, also known as the purple pincher hermit crab. These crabs are naturally found in the Caribbean and require their environment to mimic these settings in captivity.

Habits and Habitat

Hermit crabs require a warm, humid environment with access to land and water. In the wild, they’re generally found near the ocean in tropical and subtropical regions. As pets, they’re typically kept in tanks or aquariums with various substrates and hiding spots to mimic their natural habitats.

Common Misconceptions About Hermit Crab Care

One of the common misconceptions about hermit crab care is that they can be satisfied and happy living in a small plastic container or bowl with no additional care or attention. However, these animals require a complex living environment with appropriate temperature and humidity levels, a varied diet, supplements, and social interaction to live full and healthy lives.

Hermit Crab Behavior and Handling

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of hermit crabs let’s delve into their behavior and how handling may impact them.

Hermit Crab Behavior

Hermit crabs are prey animals and naturally skittish. They often retreat into their shells or scuttle away if they feel threatened. As they grow accustomed to their environment and receive consistent care, they’ll naturally display less skittish behaviors.

Handling Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs can become used to handling and seem to enjoy it with time and patience. However, not every hermit crab will be comfortable with being held, so it’s important to evaluate their behavior and needs before handling them.

Factors That Affect Hermit Crab Comfort with Handling

A few factors may influence a hermit crab’s comfort with being held. Their age, personality, and past experiences all play a role in how they’ll react to handling. When handling a hermit crab, it’s key to approach them in a way that’s secure and non-threatening to make them feel as comfortable and safe as possible.

Techniques for Handling Hermit Crabs

When handling a hermit crab, it’s vital to do so safely and correctly to ensure their comfort and safety.

How to Pick Up a Hermit Crab

The most reliable approach to pick up a hermit crab is to gently scoop them up from behind with one hand while using your fingers to support their bodies. Refrain from touching their shell or pinchers, which can cause harm or discomfort.

Safety Precautions

Washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling can reduce the risk of injury or stress for your hermit crab. Avoid making quick movements and loud sounds, which can startle your crab and cause them anxiety.

Signs of Stress in Hermit Crabs

It’s important to watch for signs of stress in your hermit crab when handling them to ensure you’re meeting their needs. Signs of stress may include hiding, being immobile for extended periods, changes in appetite or activity level, and aggressive behavior. If you notice these behaviors, it’s time to give your hermit crab a break from handling.

Benefits and Risks of Handling Hermit Crabs

There are both pros and cons to handling hermit crabs. Here’s a brief overview of some of those:

Benefits of Handling Hermit Crabs

  • Bonding with their owners and promoting trust and familiarity
  • Allowing for health inspection and care
  • Forming a happy relationship

Risks and Downsides of Handling Hermit Crabs

  • Over-handling may result in stress, anxiety, biting, or pinching behaviors
  • Disrupting their natural behaviors or potential damage with molting

How Often Should Hermit Crabs Be Handled?

How often you handle hermit crabs depends on individual needs and preferences. You must observe your crab’s behavior and respect their limits to avoid overwhelming them. Keep an eye out for signs that they require a break from handling, which may include hiding more, aggressive behavior, or appearing sluggish.

Socializing Hermit Crabs

Connection with other crabs can contribute to the happiness and well-being of your pet, but it’s important to approach socialization in a safe manner.

Importance of Socialization

Hermit crabs are social creatures and enjoy being around their own kind. Socializing can give them an opportunity to interact normally and promote a stronger sense of community.

Techniques and Tips for Safe Socialization

Providing sufficient space and hiding spots, offering a variety of foods and supplements, and monitoring interactions to ensure safety and a positive experience.

Top Tips for Keeping Hermit Crabs Happy and Stress-Free

Here are some effective ways to keep your hermit crab healthy and content:

Creating a Suitable Living Environment

Providing an appropriate temperature and humidity setup is essential for your hermit crab’s well-being. It’s also crucial to offer hideouts and materials like shells, logs, and stones for the crab to play with.

A Proper Diet

Hermit crabs require a balanced diet of protein-rich foods, fruits and vegetables, and supplements like calcium and vitamins.

Adequate Social Interaction

Hermit crabs thrive on social interaction, whether with their owners or with other hermit crabs. Provide proper socializing opportunities and space to offer them a sense of belonging.

Avoiding Stressors and Monitoring Stress Levels

Limit distractions like loud noises, sudden movements, and bright lights, which can trigger stress in your crab. Also, monitor their behavior to detect any sign of discomfort, distress or anxiety.

Essential Tools and Accessories for Hermit Crab Care

These are the essential accessories for your hermit crab’s care;


A tank or enclosure that provides sufficient space and a suitable living climate.


Proper substrate like coconut fiber or moss which provides a cozy and natural environment.

Décor and Hiding Spots

Provide a range of decor items and hiding areas to make their environment feel more like home. Hiding spots can relieve their stress levels.

Heating and Humidity Control

Monitor temperature and humidity levels in your hermit crab’s enclosure and use appropriate heating and humidity control tools.

Feeding and Watering Accessories

Provide appropriate feeding and watering accessories, including a water dish, food dish, and supplements.

Tools for Handling and Care

Use gloves, scoopers, and brushes to handle and care for your hermit crabs safely and effectively.


Do hermit crabs like being held? This question is somewhat complicated as not every crab will react the same way to handling, which means it’s vital to observe their behavior and respect their needs to ensure their comfort and safety. But, following proper handling techniques and providing a healthy living environment for your hermit crab could help create a happy and healthy relationship. By promoting adequate social interaction, offering a varied diet, and ensuring a stress-free environment, you can provide your hermit crab with the best care possible.