Hermit Crab Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Hermit Crab

Scientific Name:


Wild Status:

Least Concern


Tropical regions, varies from shallow reefs and near shore, to deep sea bottoms.


Ocean waters worldwide


Their shells!

Life Span:

Without proper care, very short - but can reach 20-30 years in the wild or with real care


Varies greatly with each species, but can be a few inches generally, with one species up to 3 feet

Cool Facts:

  • Usually reddish, orange, or brown in color, possibly with purple spots
  • Has 10 legs and 2 claws.
  • Hermit Crabs are more closely related to squat lobsters than they are to true crabs
  • For the common hermit crab, the right claw is always larger
  • Hermit crabs are scavengers in the wild, and eat dead animal remains and whatever else they can find


Hermit crabs are crustaceans that mainly live with half of their body in a scavenged shell! The abdomen of a hermit crab is spirally and curved, and very soft and vulnerable. Hermit crabs will scavenge shells from other marine animals to protect themselves, and as they grow they move into bigger shells! There are two main groups of hermit crabs - marine hermit crabs that mainly live in water and rarely leave for land, and then land hermit crabs that spend most of their lives on land in tropical regions. Both types of hermit crabs use gills primarily for breathing, so they all need moisture. Hermit crabs will compete and even fight with each other for shells, however if there is a big difference in size fighting can stop because each crab likes a covering that is just the right size.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Arthropoda Subphylum: Crustacea Class: Malacostraca Order: Decapoda Suborder: Pleocyemata Infraorder: Anomura Superfamily: Paguroidea

Conservation & Helping:

Hermit Crabs are of least concern on the endangered species list. However, it is important to note that when they live for a short period of time in captivity, it is mainly because of improper care! Hermit Crabs can be great companions and live long happy lives, so before looking into having one as a pet make sure to research the best possible care, and give them what they need to thrive!

For Teachers and Educators


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