There are two different species of hermit crabs that you will commonly find being sold as pets in the United States, and both of them come from the Caribbean. That makes their exotic pets. One species is the land hermit crab, also called the Caribbean crab, the purple pincher crab, or the soldier crab. Its scientific name is Coenobita clypeatus. The second common species of hermit crab pet in the US is the Ecuadorian crab, also called the E-crab or Eccie. Its scientific name is Coenobita compressus.
You can tell which hermit crab you have by looking at its pinchers. The land hermit crab, or purple pincher crab will have surprise! purple pinchers. The purple pinchers will probably be a little bit lighter at the tips than the rest of the pinchers, but that is not always true. The land hermit crabs also have bumpier pinchers than the Eccie, but you might need to compare them side by side to see this difference.
Most people choose to buy the land hermit crabs because they live on fresh water. In their native habitat, land hermit crabs live in the forest and drink the rain water when it puddles, so in order to provide a land hermit crab with the right kind of water you just need to either capture the rain or dechlorinate the water from your kitchen faucet. There are tablets or drops that you can use to dechlorinate your water for your land hermit crabs.
Ecuadorian crabs, on the other hand, are native to Ecuador, which is right on the ocean. These hermit crabs live in the sand on the beaches and survive on the ocean water. In order to keep Ecuadorian crabs alive you will have to have a special salt water environment for them. Some people keep both kinds of hermit crabs in one tank, but they need to have two places for their crabs to drink and bathe, a salt water place and a fresh water place.
Hermit crabs are not exactly hermits, as their names imply. Hermit crabs are very social creatures and they like to have lots of friends. This is because in their native environment, hermit crabs travel in groups, called packs, of up to 100 friends and family. There is a reason that they travel in large packs. Hermit crabs grow, but their shells do not. They need to be able to find a new shell when they grow out of their old ones. Packs of hermit crabs are all sizes and shapes so that they can trade shells when they need to. So if you want to begin raising hermit crabs just remember, the more the merrier! Make your hermit habitat large enough to add some friends.