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Hermit Crab Species - Types of Hermit Crabs

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Types of Pet Hermit Crabs

Believe it or not, there are more than one species of pet hermit crabs. You may even have more than one in your tank without ever knowing it. Below, you'll find basic descriptions to the common species of hermit crabs.

Keep in mind that for the most part, though, there are two common species that you'll find available- Coenobita clypeatus (purple pincher) andCoenobita compressus (Ecuadorian crab). Although, depending on where you've purchased your crab, you may have one of the more exotic species; Petco and mall kiosks are popular for selling species from the Pacific Rim.

The basic types of pet hermit crabs include:

  • Coenobita Brevimanus (Indo land hermit crab)
  • Coenobita cavipes (Brown hermit crab or Concave land hermit crab)
  • Coenobita clypeatus (Caribbean hermit crab, purple pincher, soldier crab, or tree crab)
  • Coenobita compressus (Ecuadorian hermit crab or Pacific hermit crab)
  • Coenobita perlatus (Strawberry land hermit crab)
  • Coenobita Rugosus (Rug land hermit crab or Tawny hermit crab)
  • Coenobita variabilis (Australian land hermit crab)

The easiest way to determine which species of hermit crab you have, is to check out the pincher. You can also tell the difference by examining the eyes and overall appearance of the crab.

Hermit Crab Species

  • Coenobita brevimanus

Second largest of the Coenobitidae family and the most terrestrial; this hermit crab is from the east coast of Africa and the west coast of the Pacific Ocean. The species is heavily armored with a thick exoskeleton, with an extra-large claw. It has spherical eyes with long, thin, dark eye stalks, and it usually varies between a brown to dark purple color. These guys do not like to get wet, so try not to soak them more than once a month, and provide plenty of places to climb to get off of moist substrate.

  • Coenobita cavipes

This hermit crab is from parts of Asia and eastern Africa. It typically remains in the forest areas, only going to the coast for mating. The hermit crab generally molts more than other species, and ranges from different shades of purple, brown, and orange. (This species has been determined to be the same as the Coenobita variabilis.

Purple Pincher Hermit Crab

Purple Pincher Hermit Crab

  • Coenobita clypeatus

This is the most popular hermit crab species, and will most commonly be found sold as a Purple Pincher Crab. These are from the Caribbean Sea and parts of Florida, the Bermuda Islands, and Venezuela. The crab has a large purple claw, and lots of spots on their legs and claws, setae, which is basically the equivalent of hair follicles. They commonly have round eyes, but may be found with flat bottom, which makes it hard to base the species on the eyes alone. The species is known to live 30-40 years.

Ecuadorian Hermit Crab

Ecuadorian Hermit Crab

  • Coenobita compressus

This is another very popular species of hermit crabs, which may commonly be found marketed as the Ecuadorian hermit crab or the Pacific hermit crab, as it's native to Ecuador. It's one of the smaller species of crab, growing only 0.5 inches long. This species has a more elongated, oval shaped eye. You'll also find that these crabs do not have a modified 'armored' leg, instead they walk by crossing the two left-side walking legs over the claw. They typically range from a dark gray, yellow, to orange color. The species also loves salt water, so definitely purchase a crab safe salt conditioner or salt soak.

Strawberry Hermit Crab

Strawberry Hermit Crab

  • Coenobita perlatus

This hermit crab is native to Africa , and is commonly referred to as the Strawberry Hermit Crab. These hermit crabs are typically a pale red, orange, or white when they're young, but as adults, they are a bright red color with white spots, resembling strawberries (hence their common name). These crabs are pretty long lived, with lifespans of more than 30 years in captivity. The species also requires salt water, so definitely purchase a crab safe salt conditioner or salt soak to fill up a salt water pool in the enclosure.

  • Coenobita rugosus
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This is another Australian species of hermit crab, that may also be found on the east coasts of Africa and even the south western Pacific. This species is common for making chirping noises when threatened. They tend to cross the front two legs over the large claw, especially when curled into their shell. This is one of the harder species to identify because they come in so many colors. ; the come on a variety of colors depending on their diets, and can range from green, brown, tan, black, white, peach, pink, or shades of blue. The species requires salt water, so definitely purchase a crab safe salt conditioner or salt soak.

  • Coenobita variabilis

This species is from parts of Asia and eastern Africa, as well. It has a fire-red antennae, and typically ranges from different shades of purple, brown, and orange. The species also requires salt water, so definitely purchase a crab safe salt conditioner or salt soak.

Tips for Pet Hermit Crabs

Books About Hermit Crabs

Land Hermit Crabs


Claire on April 29, 2014:

Can different species of hermit crabs coexist peacefully?

Michelle on February 13, 2013:

I have had hermit crabs for three months now. I use a heat lamp as there heat supply along with roughly five inches of play sand, topped with an inch or two of coarser sand plus a toppper of wooden substrate on a quarter of the tank. I mist four to five times a day to maintain heat and humidity. I only use the light for 12-14 hours a day. My crabitat is in my bedroom so I turn it off when I go to sleep. Am I Doing my crabs any harm by turning the heat off? Or are they able to maintain enough heat through the night?


Sera on July 13, 2012:

I love hermit crabs and I think that my little friends love me too!!!

Felix J Hernandez from All over the USA on August 20, 2011:

I wasn't aware of the variety. Good Hub.

evan on June 12, 2011:

hermit crabs rule!!!!!!

Olivia on March 05, 2011:

Don't forget crystal hermit crab!!! Their important too!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on November 02, 2010:

Oh, I love this hub and it brings back many happy memories for me! I have owned hermit crabs as pets and have many stories to go with them. Great pets,for sure, but I also enjoy seeing them in tide pools whenever I can. They are usually very tiny there, at least in California. Maybe the bigger ones are in different places. Thank you!

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