Bush fires, hurricanes, tornados, floods, power outages... these are all natural disasters that may affect you, your home and your Hermit Crabs. We often have evacuation plans in place for ourselves, our families and our pets, but have you ever thought of the evacuation plan of your Hermit Crabs?
Preparation is key. Having a plan in place and an emergency evacuation kit ready to go will help make the process much easier if it ever should come to it. This is especially important if you live in high-risk areas, in Australia, we are more prone to bush fires, hurricanes, floods and power outages, and sometimes this leads to last minute evacuations.
Your evacuation kit should include the basic necessities to keep your crabs alive while you are out of your home. You can store everything in a large tub or box and place it somewhere where you can easily access it in an emergency.
Evacuation Kit -
Substrate - Spare sand and coir peat to make a substrate.
Large Plastic Tub - This will be your crab's temporary home, make sure it has a secure lid.
Spare Heat Mats - Spare heat mats are important to add to the sides of your plastic tub to keep the heat up.
Pools - Some spare plastic tubs that you can use as pools.
Marine Salt - Spare marine salt to make saltwater pool.
Prime Water Conditioner - Keep a bottle of prime to treat the water pools and substrate.
Food Bowls - Spare food bowls for feeding
Dried Foods - Packing some dried foods in your emergency kit will last a lot longer without spoiling and will keep your crew fed.
Supplements - You don't need a multitude of supplements, the most important ones would be a calcium supplement, greensand and worm castings.
Spare, Smaller Iso Tubs - When evacuating, you may come across mid moulting crabs, these will need to be isolated in their own smaller tubs, inside the large emergency tub.
Enrichment - Depending on how big your tub is, it can be a bit nicer to add in some spare enrichment such as fake plants and hideouts.
Thermometer/Hygrometer - This will be needed to keep an eye on your temperature and humidity levels.
Spare Shells - Having a few spare shells in various sizes are not entirely necessary, but if you happen to have an extremely stressed crab who goes naked, spare shells will be needed.
Spare Blanket - This can be used to place over the top of the tub to help keep them warm.
Sphagnum Moss - Use this in the small carry container to evacuate the crabs. Have it already in the tubs so you can quickly wet it before placing them in.
Sealed Water Bottles - Having a few sealed water bottles in your kit is great for adding to your pools.
Relocating Hermit Crabs in an Emergency
This is usually something that you won't have much time to do, if you are in the middle of an emergency, it needs to be a fast activity. We never recommend digging up Hermit Crabs, but in some instances, you don't have a choice. This is one of them.
Quickly remove as much decor from the tank as possible and gently but quickly dig through your tank until all Hermit Crabs are accounted for. Place any non moulters in a small carry tub with some damp moss in the bottom. Any moulters will need to be added to the small iso tubs. Use a spoon to dig around the moulter and include some sand from their original tank in the bottom of their iso tub.
Now is not the time to set up their temporary home, that is something you can do when you end up in the place you will be staying during your evacuation. When you need to evacuate, remove your Hermit Crabs, grab your emergency kit and leave. The kit should already be full, this saves you time and stress running around trying to find everything.
Be Safe, Not Silly
There may be some instances when it just isn't safe to evacuate your crabs and you will have no choice but to leave them behind. The most common instance is a house fire. If you wake up in the middle of the night, come home to or find yourself in a house fire, the most important thing is that you get yourself and your family out. We love our Hermit Crabs dearly, but your safety is number one.
If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot remove your crabs and you need to leave immediately due to a bush fire or house fire, turn off your entire tank at the power point. This will cut the heat out to the tank to prevent even more heat getting to your crabs. If the house or surroundings is on fire and your tank gets too hot, the first thing your crabs will do is burrow down into the substrate to cool down. There have been instances when people have had to leave their crabs behind due to a fire and surprisingly their crabs have survived by digging into the sub.
Setting Up Your Evacuation Tub
Mix your substrate as usual, an 8:1 ratio, and try to make it deep enough for your crabs to moult if they need too. It's not always ideal or cheap to have a spare air pump and bubbler supplies, so bringing bubblers along for the tub is not absolutely necessary. If you can change their water every few days, that's all that matters. Please don't beat yourself up if your evacuation tub is not perfect and is not at the perfect heat and humidity, try your best to get it there, but a plastic tub is not the most perfect home, and this is just a temporary solution.
Add your pools and your heat sources and the lid to get the heat and humidity up. Add your crabs straight away to get them back into a safe, warm and humid environment. This will be a very stressful time for your hermies, so expect them to dig down straight away.
Once it is safe to return home and your tank is still in good condition, you should add your crabs straight back into their home. They will find this stressful also and will most likely dig down to distress. Do not worry about this behavior, it is very normal.