Hermit crabs make an unusual and very interesting classroom pet. But don’t let the hermit crab’s name fool you – they are not “hermits” but prefer the company of other “hermies” to be at their happiest. In the wild, hermit crabs travel in packs of up to 100 crabs. One of the reasons hermit crabs need to be around other crabs is because it provides possibilities for new homes as they switch shells.
The best habitat for your classroom hermit crabs is a spacious aquarium big enough to hold food and water dishes, extra shells and things for your crabs to climb on. There should also be some open space for roaming. The bottom of the habitat should be covered with clean sand or coconut fiber substrate.
Hermit crabs are a great addition to your science curriculum. These crabs require their water to be treated with a dechlorinizer that can easily be purchased in the aquarium section of your pet supply store. A sponge or small stones can be added to the water dish so that smaller crabs don’t drown in the dish. Hermit crabs require consistent temperatures and humidity, so you may want to add a shallow dish of water with a natural sponge in it to create a more humid habitat. You can actually purchase a humidity gauge, which should always show at least 70% humidity.
Cholla wood, coral, and specially designed elements for hermit crab habitats are all needed to provide an enjoyable and interesting habitat for your crabs.
Hermit crabs can have different personalities, which is another great reason to have more than one crab in your classroom habitat. Some will be more outgoing and curious than others. To hold a hermit crab, put the crab in the palm of your hand and keep your palm flattened so the crab can’t grab onto it. The warmth of your hand can encourage them to come out of their shell. You can also mist the crab lightly with dechlorinized water, but don’t overdo it!
It’s interesting to watch crabs interact with each other. Crabs can fight over shells, and you will know if things are escalating if you hear the crabs “chirping”. Crabs will push and climb over each other, and wave their feelers at each other.
Crabs also like to choose their own shell to live in, so be sure that you provide them with choices as they grow. Shells should be cleaned with boiling water before being put into the crab habitat. Crabs don’t just change shells, and if you see your crab digging a lot, it might mean that he is ready to molt. When the crab is ready to shed his skin, it’s important to have a special isolation tank ready so the newly molted crab is safe and sound.
Hermit crabs are fascinating pets and there is a lot to learn about these amazing little creatures. http://hermit-crabs.com has a variety of informative articles on how to keep classroom hermit crabs thriving and providing learning opportunities for your students.
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