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The Australian Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita Variabilis)

Updated: Apr 28

Australian Land Hermit Crabs (Coenobita Variabilis) are a terrestrial Hermit Crab species, native to Australia. It is a nocturnal, omnivorous crustacean that thrives in tropical areas near water.

They vary in size and appearance, ranging from a pale sandy colour through to reddish tones and ranging in sizes from a thumb nail through to a tennis ball.

Being an Arthropod, they need to moult in order to grow. Hermit Crabs will dig deep into substrate, create a cave and will stay there until they have shed their exoskeleton and their new exoskeleton hardens.

As they grow, they must select a new, larger shell to move into.

Land Hermit Crabs can breathe on land by using their modified gills, they breathe by absorbing oxygen through their gills and need high levels of humidity to do so. Low levels of humidity can dry out their gills and essentially suffocate them to death.

Despite being called 'Hermits', Hermit Crabs are extremely sociable creatures and thoroughly enjoy the company of other Hermit Crabs. In the wild, they often live in large colonies.

When housing Land Hermit Crabs, it is vital to house them with mates to avoid loneliness.

Although they are advertised as 'easy beginner pets', this is far from true.

The Australian Land Hermit Crab requires a certain strict environment in order to survive and thrive. When cared for accordingly, they can live for upto 15 years in captivity.

Your tank should have a minimum of 38L per Hermit Crab, with a minimum of 6 inches (15cm) of substrate. This allows each Crab plenty of space, with substrate deep enough to safely moult. Substrate should mimic what is naturally found in the wild, the closest thing to that is playsand and damp coir peat mixed in parts of 8:1.

The tank will require two separate pools (marine salt water and fresh water) for your crabs to drink and bathe in. These pools must be deep enough for your largest Crab to fully submerge themselves (shell and all)

Any water used in your crabitat should also be treated first, using a water conditioner such as Seachem Prime.

Because Hermit Crabs require a tropical environment to survive, you will need to provide them with heat and humidity.

Heat - 26.c-32.c Degrees

Humidity - 70%-85%

This can be achieved by placing reptile heat mats or cords on the outside of the tank. By placing deep pools, deep substrate and high heat, this will in return, produce high humidity inside your crabitat.

These levels can be measured using a reptile Thermometer and Hygrometer Gauge.

Supplying enrichment products and tank decor will help give your crabitat a natural feel and encourage activity and promote a healthy lifestyle.

• Photo of Maxwell who belongs to The Happy Hermie.

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