Can Hermit Crabs Swim in Water?

In the wild, the life cycle of a hermit crab begins in the ocean. However, once they are born, these funny creatures immediately adapt to the land life.

They tend to remain in the vicinity of the ocean during their entire life, so many first-time owners are asking themselves the same question: can hermit crabs swim in water? Surprisingly, hermit crabs cannot swim.

Although we like to think of all crabs as ocean creatures, this is not the case with these peculiar species. They breathe through adapted gills, which need humid air to function properly, but they are not able of collecting air through water.

Therefore, these anti-swimmers should always have clean water around their enclosures, but they should never ever be forced into it.

Hermit Crab Water Requirement

Hermit crabs require water for drinking and cleaning purposes, but also for keeping themselves hydrated. Without their daily doses of water, they may start developing health complications in no time and, consequentially, die.

Their home needs to be provided with two bowls of water, at least. One has to be filled with de-chlorinated fresh water while the other has to contain de-chlorinated saltwater. Both are vitally important to these odd pets.

Fresh water is used for drinking and for keeping their bodies and shells generally hydrated. On the other side, they use saltwater for bathing purposes. This is especially important if they have any kind of injury or wound, as they use the salt from their water as a sort of healing medication.

Additionally, the air they breathe needs to be highly humid, around 75-85% humidity level is best for them. This can be obtained either with daily misting activities or with the installation of a fogger. There are also fully automated humidifiers available.

Hermit Crab Pool

Setting up a decorative tiny pool instead of simple dishes is a wonderful idea, but it is important to carefully select the most suitable one to avoid complications afterwards.

First of all, it is necessary to choose a pool which is shallow enough for the hermits not to drown, but also deep enough so it can reach until their shells, which require water contact to stay hydrated. There is no general depth specification here, as this depends entirely on the size of your hermit crabs.

Next, it is important to provide your pets a pool access as simple as it gets. They need to feel totally natural when getting in and out of the pool, without the possibility of getting stuck on the borders. Or even worse, inside the pool.

Therefore, many owners like to slightly burrow the pools among the substrate, for a super-easy access. Also, some people suggest placing a natural sponge on the inside of the pool, to ensure easier movements to the hermits.

If you decide to use a sponge, too, please keep in mind that this will require frequent cleanings to avoid any bacteria growing on the surface.

There are many affordable commercial pools available, with great natural designs and apposite tiny steps. But alternatively, you can easily create such pools from the comfort of your home.

Use small stones or gravel or even plastic plants to create different depths along the pools for your hermits to choose the most suitable one. Feel free to play here as much as you like, but always ensure they have an easy access to the pools as well as a quick exit.

Whichever type of pool you decide to place into your hermit enclosure, try thinking of the simplest solution both for your pets but also for yourself.

Even though de-chlorinated water does not have to be changed on a daily basis, you will have to regularly take the pool out of their enclosure for cleaning purposes. So, try keeping that as simple as possible. Also, the larger the pool size is, the less frequent water changes will be required.

Can Hermit Crabs Drown?

Sadly, hermit crabs can easily drown if being submerged into water. This will not happen immediately, but in 10 to 30 minutes under water may be just enough for your hermit crab to drown.

Providing them shallow pools with an easy access and exit is vitally important, however make sure they have enough water to submerge when they want to.

Is Tap Water Safe for Hermit Crabs?

Tap water is safe for hermit crabs only after it has been de-chlorinated. Never offer tap water to your hermit pets without processing it first, as chlorine which is perfectly safe for people can certainly kill your hermits over time.

If you do not wish to use any de-chlorination drops, a perfectly safe alternative is offering your pets either bottled or distilled water.

Using de-chlorination drops is not complicated at all, and it may be a more affordable solution for the long term. Simply apply a few drops (always following the number of drops which each brand suggests) to your tap water into a jug, and then stir it up for the drops being able of performing their task.

Additionally, add a small portion of ocean salt into the water when you need to fill up the saltwater pool in their enclosure. Never use kitchen salt. Also, never bring ocean water to your home thinking that it is a more natural option, as this can bring to health damages to your pets.

When placing either fresh or saltwater to your hermit enclosure, always wait until it reaches a room temperature first. Cold water can bring to temperature shocks if they submerge immediately.

Wrapping Up

Even if it comes natural to automatically associate crabs with ocean life, there are a few species which make the exception. And hermit crabs are one of them. These creatures do not live in water and they are not even able to breathe in water. Therefore, never ever force your pets getting into deeper pools.

Water is essential for any living being, and so it is for hermits, but strictly for drinking and bathing purposes. They are not swimmers and their water bowls or pools need to be shallow and super-easy to access and exit.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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