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Wondering if crabs would be a good pet for me?

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 12:32 am
by Audra
Hi everyone! I'm new to the forum but not necessarily new to crabbies. As a child, I used to have a couple but didn't know how to properly care for them since they were whim purchases from tourist shops. My parents didn't have a clue and while I tried my best to care for my hermies they didn't survive more than a couple weeks. We didn't have internet and came from a small town so we trusted what the tourist shop owners said.

That was nearly two decades ago and now I'm married and thinking about crabbies. I recently lost my sweet dog to cancer and it's been difficult. She was my only baby and I dedicated myself to her care 24/7 for years. I work from home and the silence has been deafening. I know I'm not ready for another dog and neither are my finances (cancer costs thousands of dollars). Honestly, I miss having a little heartbeat in my home and thought perhaps crabbies could help. I feel lost without a routine too. All my life I've always had a pet (or several) and for once in years I don't have anyone to care for. It feels unsettling and like I'm lost. I feel the acceptance stage coming on and have slowly been adjusting to this new "silent" life.

Anyway, I've been reading as much as I can on the forums & internet and crabbies seem to be low demand pets. Thanks to this forum I'm learning about proper crabitat conditions, humidity, feeding, shells, etc. Some of the crabitats look fun and gorgeous.. they've really caught my interest. I was thinking of maybe starting with 2 small crabs but have questions:

- How long does molting last? Is it safe to clean during this time?
- Does the crabitat have a smell? (I'd assume damp sand/coconut fiber would smell earthy)
- How do you prevent mold or mildew?
- Are there transferrable diseases/illness between crabs & owner?
- How much time a day do you spend caring for your crabs?
- What do you enjoy most about your crabs?

I'm sorry if my post offended anyone. I am in no way rushing out to get another pet. I've been letting myself mourn and feel like my heart may be ready to care for something small again but I want to educate myself as much as possible to ensure a good home. I've been taking my time and thought I'd join here to ask questions first. You all are the professionals to me. Thank you for any and all advice.

Re: Wondering if crabs would be a good pet for me?

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 5:32 am
by wodesorel
I am so sorry you lost your baby, and that it happened in such a horrible way.

I have an inkling of what you must be going through - three years ago I lost my cat who was my constant companion after years of trying to treat her asthma unsuccessfully. Her lungs kept getting worse and slowly failed and there was nothing we could do to stop it. When I lost her I lost a part of myself, and even now I'm not sure I'll ever get it back. I've been stuck at home because of health reasons for a long time, and she was my ground from when it started. I had to relearn how to do everything, and get through the day, and sleep at night, without her always being right there. Even now, I'm honestly not back to normal. I had other pets in the house, and my husband brought me home a 5 day old kitten not even a week after Clio passed away (yes, I nearly killed him, but she was never meant to be a replacement, he only wanted to save her life because there was no one else to help her) who ended up becoming my world and my new shadow somewhere along the way, but it never lessened the loss. The silence is going to be there whether there is something clamoring for your attention or not. Please, make sure you're the one who is ready or you'll only feel worse for rushing. Not everyone gets hit hard with grief when there is a loss, and it won't happen with every pet, but when it does, only time seems to help.

As for hermits, they aren't very interactive. They're a lot like insects and arachnids - they'll react to you, but it's usually in a fearful manner and while some tolerate handling, they don't seem to really enjoy it. The joy of keeping them is in the challenge of keeping them alive and making their lives as close to normal as possible. A lot of us realize we have a decorating fetish, and a shell addiction which adds to the enjoyment. However, there is a crazy high risk of death in new crabs even when everything is done perfectly since they are wild caught, and they are a wild animal that is adapting to a life in captivity and react as such. Adopting from someone who got hermits without realizing all the little things they needed can help to circumvent any guilt that goes along with having them, but it does nothing to lessen the death risk unless they are being adopted from someone who was already caring for them properly and has had them molt before. I think that's a factor not a lot of people worry too much about, but coming from a place of loss already, I think it's important to mention.

-Molts generally last a couple weeks for teeny crabs to 2 to 3 months for larger crabs. Surface cleaning and tidying can be done without worry so long as the crab hasn't decided to molt someplace stupid like directly under a hide or a water bowl.
-The crab tank will smell musty - it's hot and humid and generally won't have a lot of air flow, and they like stinky food. Whenever I clean my tank, my hands end up smelling like slightly rotten fruit (vinegar like) from their waste, if I forget to wear gloves. That is the only part I can't stand!
-Mold and mildew are pretty much par for the course, but having air flow, using saltwater strategically (too much is bad, as it builds up over time in the substrate the more it's used), and keeping old food cleaned up goes a long way to help. 'Clean-up crews' of springtails and rolly-pollies can also make a serious dent!
-Hermits aren't known to carry zoonotic diseases, but their enclosure can be home to bacteria, and the food they eat can be contaminated with salmonella, e. coli, etc. Basic hand washing guidelines should be used.
-A few minutes daily, change the food and water, spot clean. Once they're set up they don't need much. Getting everything started can take a few days though!
-Watching them interact with their environment. I'm never sure if their dinner is going to be a solo affair or a party. How many are going to be cruising the tank tonight. Will I be lucky enough to have mating again this year. Silly things like that. It's similar to a fish tank, but more of a challenge to get them out where they can be seen. I also enjoy a good vivarium, so decorating and giving them things they enjoy using makes me happy.

If feeding live insects doesn't bother you, I personally would encourage you to look into a leopard gecko, too. Set-up costs and time involvement are about the same, but they will learn to interact with you directly. They don't have to be cared for every day so long as their water dish is full, as feeding them all the time can make them fat rather quickly, so there is the same level of freedom as with hermits. (And like hermits, many stores give bad information, so finding a good gecko group to get you set up right is important.) They can be taught to not be afraid of being handled, and they can spend more time out of their tank as well. They're also cute as heck and they look like they're smiling! Mine come running to me for meals and are generally really goofy little guys. I can't help but smile back when I walk in to care for them every morning, and I go in to visit throughout the day as well. Wellness checks are a good idea with a vet who has some reptile experience just to make sure they don't have parasites and that their bones are staying strong and their weight is healthy. (While calcium deficiencies aren't as common as in other species it can happen, and people tend to starve their geckos for some reason without meaning to. I see so many skinny ones!) Leos were really low on my radar for years until I rescued a few, and now I wonder how I went so long without realizing how wonderful they are to have. The things you said - wanting a small heartbeat around again, needing a routine, low demand - really made me think of my leos more than my hermits. I love my hermits for what they are, but the geckos show their contentment in a way that's very easy to see and in some ways are easier to care for.

Re: Wondering if crabs would be a good pet for me?

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:07 am
by pandaincognito
Anything that is kept in ab enclosed environment is going to require a pretty good start up investment. I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my boxer to cancer for our five years ago. I laid in the bathroom with her for five hours before my mom took her to be put down. It's a hard thing :( hermit crabs wont fill the void you will feel, but they will definitely keep you busy. Everything wide said is pretty spot on

Re: Wondering if crabs would be a good pet for me?

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:34 am
by aussieJJDude
I'd suggest a beta if you're looking for a small pet in a smaller space! :) These guys will become great wet pets if properly cared for and they really addicting. If you want to go all out, try setting up a fish tank with plants.... the perfect underwater garden.

However, take your time and read up about hermies. After reading a few websites, book, blogs ect what made you interested about them? Was there anything that you didn't like about the possibility of owning crabs?

i can speak for most people here they they are great pets, but I know that not for everyone. :) So without pushing my opinions on you, what made you decide to think about getting hermies?

Re: Wondering if crabs would be a good pet for me?

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:57 am
by pandaincognito
I can tell you moneywort and amazon sword are super simple to care for. Amd did you know tou can play with betas? I just recently discovered my beta likes to chase a laser pointer. Its also entertaining to watch him swim in the bubbles of the air stone. He keeps himself entertained for the most part. I find myself watching my fish tank more than the television