Charm City Reptile Rescue has some hermit crabs available for adoption. Hermit crabs are wild caught animals, taken from the wild. They never reproduce in captivity. Adoption is a nice alternative to buying them. Of course, they are still wild caught, but they are also in need of a home.
Hermit crabs make wonderful pets for small kids. They can pinch, but when handled gently and placed on an open palm they either crawl around or hide in their shells.
The little plastic container they come in at the store is not an appropriate cage for them. A 10 gallon aquarium is a much better choice for a “crabitat.” They need temperatures above 72 degrees. They like high humidity of 70% or more. A substrate that keeps in humidity like coconut bark bedding, available at pet stores, is nice. Sand also works for hermit crabs. Regular kid-friendly play sand is fine. There is high end calcium sand that is way more expensive and unnecessary. Dechlorinated water is the best choice. Water with a high iron concentration is not healthy for hermit crabs. If you have well water, you should probably buy spring water. You can buy dechlorinator from a pet store, or you can let water sit out overnight in a container with a wide mouth. The chlorine will evaporate. Some people recommend two water bowls, one with dechlorinated water and the other with salt water.
Put the water in a shallow ceramic bowl with a natural sponge. They will come to the sponge and drink from it. You can get natural sponges from craft stores that are cheaper than the pet stores. Never use metal bowls. Rinse the bowl often so that it doesn’t get gross.
Always give the hermit crabs several shell options. Some like to change from shell to shell on a regular basis. Others tend to stay in one shell for a long time and only change when they outgrow it. Craft stores sell shells for much less than pet stores. In the big chain pet stores, one shell can cost a few dollars, in a craft store you can buy a bag of shells for the same price.
For enrichment, you can put in hiding places and things to climb over in the cage. Be sure they are not made of metal and are clean before placing them into the cage.
Rinse off any shells, water bowls and other cage equipment before using it with the hermit crabs. They seem to prefer shells with a non-round opening the best.
Stores sell commercial hermit crab food, but they will eat flake fish food, aquatic turtle chow soaked in water or many healthy human foods. Dark leafy greens like collards or kale are a favorite of hermit crabs. Other shredded vegetables are good as are chicken and fish. They’ll eat just about anything! Remember that your hermit crab is very small. They do not eat much. If you overfeed them, the food will get moldy from the humidity. Remove uneaten food on a daily basis.
When handling your hermit crab, never grab them by their claws. The big one can hurt you if you are not careful! If the hermit crab does grab you, run it under a gentle stream of luke warm water. It should let go. If your kids feel more secure wearing thin gardening gloves, that works too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.