How Long Do Hermit Crabs Live

How Long Do Hermit Crabs Live?

Wild hermit crabs can live more than 30 years in their natural habitat. On the flip side, captivated hermit crabs hardly survive one year or two. They can easily live 20 years longer if you properly care for their health. So, “How long do hermit crabs live?” depends on various factors.

The most crucial part of helping the hermit crab live longer is how much we care about them. And it’s not easy to take care of these delicate crustaceans. Also, there are many factors that affect their health that lead them to die sooner.

Let’s follow the footprints of this guide to find out how long a hermit crab can live. Also, I’ll unfold each and every question popping up in your mind related to the hermit crab’s lifespan.

So, here we go!

Lifespan of Hermit Crabs: Factors and Care Tips

Before indulging in the topic, here are a few facts to know before any other discussion.

According to research by the Peta organization, “contrary to common belief, hermit crabs have a longer natural lifespan than those sold in pet stores. Many crustaceans can live surprisingly long lives. For instance, the oldest lobster on record reportedly lived 140 years.

Similarly, hermit crabs’ lifespan in their natural habitat (wild environment) is up to 30 years and even longer. On the other side, captivated hermit crabs (or hermit crabs living in pet stores) only live up to 1 or 2 years. However, there are many exceptional cases when the captivated hermit crabs live more than 20 years.”

Let’s check out why pet hermit crabs live much shorter lives than those living in the wild.

The Challenge of Taking Care of Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are challenging crabs. What does it mean? It means it takes a lot of work to take care of them. Often, we take a hermit crab into our home, and it does so within a few days or weeks.

Most of the aquarists share this painful experience, and the reason behind the deaths of these hermies is simple! Pet store caretakers and owners do not care much about these hermit crabs.

Plus, most of them are already sick. So, they die whenever you keep them in your home aquarium. One more thing – bacteria and fungi can thrive in unsanitary living conditions for hermit crabs. It potentially leads to infections in the bodies of hermies that result in instant death.

If you want to buy hermit crabs, buy them from a reputable store. The Land Hermit Crab store has always been recommended by other Reddit users and me. It’s one of the trustworthy stores where you can get healthy and captivated hermit crabs.

Fun Fact!

Did you know? The world’s oldest hermit crabs can live past 40 years old! Meet Jonathan Livingston, a hermit crab from a Florida retirement community. He was an incredible 44 years old before passing away in 2021.

Reasons Why Hermit Crabs Die Sooner in Captivity:

Sometimes, even if you take good care of the health of hermit crabs, they still die very early. Here are other reasons why taking care of these cute crabies is challenging.

1.Pathetic Molting Process:

First of all, hermit crabs shed their exoskeletons during a stressful period to grow. This is a process known as molting.

It involves burying themselves into the substrate of their habitat for days or weeks. Sometimes, they die in the very early stages of the molding process.

2.Dry Gills:

Hermit crabs have gills that they use for breathing purposes. So, they need adequate moisture to avoid suffocation.

Both hermit crabs, aquatic and land (or terrestrial) hermit crabs require water to moisturize their gills and live longer. So, if a person doesn’t know about these needs of hermies, they will end up losing their beloved pet.

3.Rehomed Stress:

Have you ever wondered if hermit crabs can go through trauma? It’s a prevalent reason why hermit crabs die earlier. They are sensitive creatures, and whenever someone tries to re-home them, they start feeling stressed.

It takes them weeks to just ward off their shyness in a new environment. Sometimes, they fail to settle in their new habitat and eventually die due to anxiety and depression.

4.They Can Drown!

Sometimes, hermit crabs die just because they are not able to get out of the water. Do you know most of the pet hermit crabs are land hermit crabs? They can’t survive longer in water.

That’s why it’s recommended not to put them in bathtubs or aquariums where they cannot escape them. You should provide them with land and water to let them live happily. Sadly, most hermit crab lovers are so naive that they don’t know how to care for their beautiful pet.

You can follow my guide about the salt-to-water ratio for hermit crabs. Also, you can read everything related to “How long can hermit crabs go without water?” 

5.Unaware Toxicity:

Toxic substances are a serious threat to hermit crabs’ health. For example, ingesting paint chips (whether from decorative items or their habitat) can introduce harmful chemicals into their systems. Similarly, inhaling fumes from paint or other substances can lead to respiratory issues.

Additionally, drinking contaminated tap water, which contains chemicals or pollutants, can harm their health. These factors highlight the importance of providing a safe and toxin-free environment for hermit crabs.

Dear readers, this is not a complete list of the reasons why hermit crabs do not live longer in captivity. Let’s keep reading to know more facts regarding “How long do hermit crabs live?”.

Reasons for Deaths of Hermit Crabs in the Wild:

Although hermit crabs live longer in the wild, here are a few common reasons that affect their longevity.

1.Predators Prey on Them:

Wild predators are the first and foremost common reason behind the deaths of hermit crabs. Moreover, hermies are rated low in the food chain. Octopi and fish prey on hermit crabs.

Interestingly, there are wild crabs that love to eat smaller species of hermit crabs. More often, birds are the ruthless creatures that pluck and swoop those hermit crabs that are exposed to them.

2.Environmental Factors:

In addition to natural predators, a few environmental factors do not allow the hermit crabs to live longer. For example, wild hermit crabs drown during high tides.

Although some of them hide in their burrows and shells, half of them who fail in hiding drown in the tides. (Read out why hermit crabs burrow.) However, there is another common environmental factor that affects hermit crabs’ lives.

According to the Journal of Hazardous Materials report, hermit crabs like to live in plastic bottles. However, they get stuck inside the bottles due to their inability to leave these vessels. As a result, they die due to frustration and suffocation.

After unfolding the reasons for the increasing death rate in hermit crabs, an interesting question comes to mind. Let’s discuss it in the below section.

Why Should We Never Buy Hermit Crabs?

Let’s find out why we should never purchase hermit crabs: ~ Source

  • Almost every land hermit crab found in souvenir shops or malls has been taken from its natural habitat in the wild. So, it’s clear that they rarely breed in captivity. It’s evident that they don’t know how to live at home or in captivity.
  • Hermit crabs thrive in large colonies and enjoy sleeping piled up together. They find delight in various activities in the wild, like climbing, foraging, and exploring, often collaborating in teams to find food.
  • In their natural habitats along tropical seashores, hermit crabs can live for over 30 years. However, once they are purchased, their lifespan typically diminishes to mere months or up to a year.
  • Lastly, the hermit crab trade also has detrimental effects on wild crabs. Every year, workers gather thousands of shells from the ocean to paint and sell alongside “pet” crabs. This act led to a shortage of homes for wild hermit crabs and exacerbated the “hermit crab housing crisis.” At any time, approximately 30 percent of wild crabs are residing in shells that are too small for them. And it’s evident that this percentage will increase to nearly 60 percent after their growth phase in the spring.

What are your views about keeping hermit crabs in homes and domestic areas? Do hermit crabs smell bad when they die?


1.Is it Bad or an Act of Cruelty if We Keep Hermit Crabs as pets?

Hermit crabs are not “starter pets” or mere decorations. In fact, they should not be treated as such. It’s essential to keep them away from kids and other pets if they are to be kept as pets.

These brilliant and empathetic creatures thrive in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, many buyers struggle to provide the desired and dream life that hermit crabs expect. Pet hermit crabs often have a short lifespan without proper care as they struggle to adapt and thrive in captivity.

2.How can I help hermit crabs to live a longer life?

To be honest, you should never buy them if you want to help hermit crabs live a longer life. The truth is that hermit crabs are not trinkets or starter pets. They are sensitive, complex, and wild animals. Captivity is not the natural habitat for hermit crabs.

No matter how kind and well-intentioned you are, you will never be able to comprehend them truly. Still, if you can take good care of your pet, try out a few tips given in this guide from the Plight of Hermit Crabs to keep them happy.

3.Should hermit crabs live alone to live longer?

No! Absolutely NOT. Hermit crabs are social animals. They don’t live alone. Instead, they live together in thousands.

However, many aquarists prefer to keep one hermit crab in the startup. It’s easy for them to pay full attention to that one pet. It’s not recommended; it depends on the preferences of the aquarists and hermit crab enthusiasts.

4.Why do my hermit crabs keep dying?

Have you checked your water dishes? According to the Hermit Crab Association Forum review, hermit crabs keep dying due to shallow water dishes. If they are only 1 inch deep, it’s best for them.

However, if they are more than 1 inch deep, the main reason behind their death is the shallow dishes/tubs. Similarly, if they are not getting enough water (1 inch of water in the water dish or habitat), they will die due to dehydration.

5.Do hermit crabs need friends to live a happy life?

Obviously yes, hermit crabs need friends to live a happy life. To prevent loneliness in their lives, you should either give them proper attention or add another hermit crab to the tank. In this way, two crabs will stay busy enjoying their lives.

6.Should I release my pet hermit crab in the wild?

Never release your pet hermit crab in the wild. They will not survive there if they are used to living in captivity. You can sell them in online or offline stores or to those who are fond of keeping hermies.

Wrapping – Up!

So, we have ended our meaningful guide, “How long do hermit crabs live?” And we conclude that hermit crabs are good pets if you are their caring companions. I’m not against or in favor of keeping hermit crabs in captivity. The motto of this guide was to make it super clear that hermit crabs have their own physical and mental health journeys.

If you persistently keep them in your home, offer them an appropriate living environment and fulfill their physical and mental needs for their wellbeing. So, give them warm temperatures, humidity, substrates (it helps them in the molting process), friendly behavior, plenty of climbing room, and much, much more!

That’s all for today. See you in the next guide about hermit crabs and their health.

Don’t miss out on reading the following guides about hermit crab food habits:

Stay tuned and blessed!