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Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 2:12 pm
by Anna15
I adopted a single hermit crab from my friend when I was 9 years old. I knew very little at the time of how to take proper care of crabs and have gradually learned through the years as I have gotten older. I've now had him for 15 years and I only recently learned that they're social creatures. I was curious if I should introduce him to a new crab or not given that he's lived by himself for so long. He's quite large compared to the ones at the pet store; he wears a 3 inch shell with a 1.5 inch opening.

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 2:46 pm
by Xenocrab
I would say yes. Look on the adoption pages. Make sure there are enough shells and that your tank is big enough for 2 crabs. I have a variety of sized crabs in my tanks without any problems. If you do add another crab, observe the behaviors. Let us know how you make out! I'm interested to know how your big, older crab reacts to a friend!

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Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:13 pm
by JoeHermits
It's up to you. The sociability of hermit crabs is debatable since they don't seem to "bond" to each other the same way many other social animals do. Anecdotally the longest living crabs in captivity have often been alone or in pairs.

It more or less boils down to how many hermit crabs you'd like to have under your care.

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:56 pm
by wodesorel
When I handled adoptions for several years, all of the oldest crabs were loners. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with it. My lone exotic has been by herself for four years and is currently thriving and I have no plans of ever getting her a roommate.

If you do want to try it, I would absolutely suggest that the new crab must be quarantined so that it doesn't bring in diseases that could affect your old guy. I would recommend keeping them separate for at least one molt, preferably two. That could take months but it is the safest route as yours has been alone for years and years and likely has lost any immunities it once had.

Also, if it goes horribly wrong, if the worst possible thing happens and your old guy doesn't make it, will you be comfortable with that? There are no guarantees that they will get along.

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:28 pm
by curlysister
That's a bit of a hard call. Crabs are often social and like to have a buddy....but after 15 years alone, if the crab is thriving then maybe it's not lonely?
Either way, I would love to see a picture of your 15+ year old crab please!

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:37 am
by p2gg86
If it is a choice between a. continuing being alone and thriving or b. getting a tank mate with unknown conditions oncoming. I would choose the option a. In my other thoughts, your presence could have been your crab companionship which perhaps your hermie need you and your care instead of having a new hermie.

Also a pic of a 15+ years old would be nice!!

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Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:04 am
by chelsielorene
p2gg86 wrote:
Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:37 am
If it is a choice between a. continuing being alone and thriving or b. getting a tank mate with unknown conditions oncoming. I would choose the option a. In my other thoughts, your presence could have been your crab companionship which perhaps your hermie need you and your care instead of having a new hermie.

Also a pic of a 15+ years old would be nice!!

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Are you still trying to rehome your crabs? I've been trying to contact you.

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:48 pm
by Anna15
Thank you all for your kind input, this webpage has been a very helpful resource for me!
An update. I did get another crab, who has gone through two molts already this year and very active. I've kept them in separate tanks next to each other; my large crab Billy is in a 40 gallon long and my new small crab is in a separate 10 gallon. They are very curious about one another and I find them often staring at each other or trying to reach through the glass. I have tried twice to put them together, but not for long and both times they seemed aggressive and I was so worried. I read on the hermit crab patch webpage that this behavior is an "antennae war" to establish a hierarchy and will eventually stop, but can still be upsetting to witness. I'm curious what all of your input is on this matter; have you seen this behavior in your crabs? Are there any other aggressive behavior signs to look for? Should I still keep trying to acclimate them, if so any additional tips as to how I should go about it?
If I can't get them to co-exist, I will probably put my smaller crab up for adoption so he can find a home to live with other crabs more his size.
I have a photo or two I'd like to share but I can't seem to figure out how.
Thank you all once again.

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:42 pm
by aussieJJDude
Ive had antennae wars even with crabs thats developed a hierarchy. Its common for crabs to have these disputes and usually its settled in a couple of seconds. The only time I'd worry is if one crab starts going after another crab, lile pinching and often the scuffle is accompanied by chirping.

I think its all normal what your crabs are doing, and nothing to be concerned about IMO.


Edit: some reccomend bathing the two crabs im freshwater sp they both smell the same. I'd suggest doing so, as I've also found it works well for me. :)

To share pics, you need an image sharing site lile flickr or imagur. Many like to use tapatalk, as its free to use and is an app for mobile access to forums - and you can upload pics directly through tapatalk.
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Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:46 am
by MudCrabDude
Anna15 wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:48 pm
Thank you all for your kind input, this webpage has been a very helpful resource for me!
An update. I did get another crab, who has gone through two molts already this year and very active. I've kept them in separate tanks next to each other; my large crab Billy is in a 40 gallon long and my new small crab is in a separate 10 gallon. They are very curious about one another and I find them often staring at each other or trying to reach through the glass. I have tried twice to put them together, but not for long and both times they seemed aggressive and I was so worried. I read on the hermit crab patch webpage that this behavior is an "antennae war" to establish a hierarchy and will eventually stop, but can still be upsetting to witness. I'm curious what all of your input is on this matter; have you seen this behavior in your crabs? Are there any other aggressive behavior signs to look for? Should I still keep trying to acclimate them, if so any additional tips as to how I should go about it?
If I can't get them to co-exist, I will probably put my smaller crab up for adoption so he can find a home to live with other crabs more his size.
I have a photo or two I'd like to share but I can't seem to figure out how.
Thank you all once again.
Honestly, I think it would be better if they were separate. In my experience, my crabs tended to grow and live much longer (thrive better) if kept separately, in my many years of keeping land hermit crabs.

I would agree with the statements posted by wodesorel, Joehermits, curlysister, and p2gg86 above. I personally think we should actually approach land hermits in the same manner as hamsters, tarantulas, and some species of turtles and tortoises and that one per enclosure might be the best for a land hermit crab for the average keeper. Sounds like blasphemy, but after years of losses of hermit crab lives, I gave up on keeping more than one per tank and I currently I've found it better to keep them solo: no shell fights, no streaking, no molt shrinkage, no dug up molters.

Sadly when I kept crabs in groups in the past, regardless the tank size (from 10 to 55+ gal.) it ended up being a terrible game of "last crab standing" I'm afraid. I also tried the many techniques presented by this forum and others' to make them less aggressive to each other, but successes are generally short-lived. Back then I underestimated the risk of death even by caused by a small hermit apparently attacking a larger molting hermit even in a 55+ gal. aquarium even if there is seemingly lots of space and seemingly deep substrate (then again, I can only assume they can dig very deep chambers in the wild, perhaps over a meter deep?) in addition to daily food provided as well as dozens of empty shells.

Roughly about 9 years ago, I adopted out my remaining two brevimanus (survivors of my last group of brevis and clypeatus) to a member of this forum because I thought I had to (a personal issue). However months later, when said issue apparently was resolved, I just felt like I needed to get back into crabbing, so to ease myself back into crabbing, I bought a small one (C. clypeatus) back in Nov. 10, 2011...but just one since I didn't feel like committing myself with a group again. I had been aware of numerous crabbers who posted stories of their lonesome crab living for years, and I would often reply to their posts, "get them more companions if you can!"

This time, however, I would just keep one in a tank, to see maybe, just maybe, if it really is possibly better to keep a crab solo for the crab's own well being.

If there was an issue arising from that crab being lonely, I got a second crab in a separate tank, just in case, months later, to "socialize" with, but only just in case.

So when I tried to introduce them to each other, they displayed the behavior you described, and then some, like flicking and shell shaking (ie. one crab would grasp the other crab's shell with the two claws and shake it back and forth).

Eventually I stopped the supervised visitation of one crab to the other's tank and since 2012, they are apparently thriving well in solo tanks.

In my opinion, if my own current two 8+-year-old hermits, whom I've kept separately since I first got them, are suffering from depression from loneliness, they sure have a WEIRD way of showing it (ex. growing bigger and stronger compared to any of the group hermit crabs I kept in the past - see my signature for pics).

Re: Should I introduce my old crab to a new one?

Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:18 pm
by GotButterflies
I'm sorry you are going through this. I've been fortunate enough to not experience this issue. All of my crabs have gotten along.