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Is my Hermit Crab a Boy or a Girl?

Updated: 4 days ago

One may have pondered the gender of their hermit crab, seeking clarity on whether it is a male or female. Determining the gender of your hermit crab can be achieved through two reliable methods.


The gonopores and pleopods are both characteristic features of the female hermit crab.

Female crustaceans possess Gonopores, which are their female sex organs situated beneath the third set of walking legs. These Gonopores are visible as small round circles, with one located on each side.


Pleopods are located on the female's abdomen and serve the purpose of retaining her eggs within her shell until they are ready to be released into the ocean. These pleopods are observed as feathery appendages on the female's abdomen.


To determine the gender of your hermit crab, carefully lift it by the shell and hold it upside down close to the tank's surface. The crab will likely emerge from its shell, allowing you to quickly examine the underside of its legs.


If you notice two small dots beneath the third set of walking legs, your hermit crab is likely female. Conversely, if there are no visible gonopores, your crab is most likely male. While attempting to determine the sex of your crab, it's important to remain patient and understanding. Some hermit crabs may be shy and not readily display their features. It is crucial never to forcibly remove your crab from its shell, as this can cause significant stress and lead to a crab being left without protection.


To observe a female's pleopods safely, one must be fortunate enough to witness the female during a shell change or in emergency situations when they are without their shell.


Presented below are several prevalent misconceptions regarding the gender of hermit crabs:


1. The myth that males are hairier than females are unfounded.

It is important to note that both male and female hermit crabs exhibit hairy legs, particularly after molting.


2. Male hermit crabs are typically larger than females.

The size of a hermit crab is not indicative of its gender; both males and females can range in size from small to jumbo.


3. The color of shells can indicate the gender of the hermit crab.

Regardless of whether your hermit crab is housed in a pink, blue, gold, purple, or novelty shell, the color does not determine the crab's gender and is merely a marketing tactic.


4. Females exhibit a lighter coloration.

Individuals of the Coenobita Variabilis species, whether male or female, display a range of hues from pale beige and grey to dark brown and red. Both genders can exhibit variations within these color spectrums.


- Picture created by The Happy Hermie, Hermit Crabs pictured belong to Sharyl Hodgetts. Used with permission.

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