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Is my Hermit Crab a Boy or a Girl?

I'm sure you have wondered, as we all have, is your little hermie a boy or a girl? How can you accurately tell? There is only two sure fire ways to tell the gender of your Hermit Crab.

Gonopores and Pleopods. Both belonging to the female Hermit Crab.

Females have Gonopores (female sex organs) located under the third set of walking legs, these appear as small round circles with one on each side.

Pleopods appear on the female's abdomen and are used to carry the female's eggs inside her shell, until she is ready to drop them into the ocean. These appear as feathery appendages on the female's abdomen.

To check the gender of your Hermit Crab, gently pick them up by the shell, and hold them upside down near the surface inside their tank, they should start to come out of their shell, this is when you can catch a quick look at the underside of their legs. If two small dots are seen underneath the third set of walking legs, your little hermie is a girl! If there are no gonopores, your she is in fact a he!

During sexing of your crab, don't be discouraged if they don't come out, some Hermit Crabs can be shy, you should never try to force your hermie out of its shell, this can be extremely stressful for them and can result in a crab going naked.

The only way to safely view a females pleopods is if you are lucky enough to catch your female mid changing of shells, or if they go naked (which is classified as an emergency)

Below are some common Hermit Crab gender myths.

1. Males are hairier than females.

Both male and female hermit crabs have hairy legs, especially post molt.

2. Males are larger in size than females.

Size has nothing to do with a hermit crab's gender, both males and females vary in size from small through to jumbo.

3. Colored shells can determine the gender.

Whether your hermit crab is wearing a pink, blue, gold, purple or novelty shell, this in no way determines your crab's gender and is simply a marketing ploy.

4. Females are lighter in color.

Both males and females of the Coenobita Variabilis species vary from pale beige and grey through to dark brown and red tones, both males and females can vary in these colors.

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

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