Species Information: Coenobita Compressus Origin: This hermit crab comes from South America and the West Indies. Molting: This is very important to sustaining the life of your friendly hermit crab. This is also where most people fail at raising hermit crabs for pets. I used to raise these little critters when I was little and learned much about these animals the hard way: Through trial and error. The good news is that what I learned worked over and over again and can pass that information on to you now. Molting is when your hermit crab sheds his outer shell and his exoskeleton. There are a few very important things you need to know to make this possible for your little friend. First, you need to provide your crab with the right substrate. I personally have had success with two different substrates, one is sand. If you choose to go with sand make sure that it is clean and keep it moist. Not soggy, but moist. The best way to tell when it's moist enough is to take your finger and draw a smiley face in the sand. If you can do it then you have it just right. When using sand it needs to be 6 to 8 inches deep. Another good substrate to use is moss. It also needs to be stacked until it reaches a height of 6 to 8 inches. It must be kept moist at all times. When your crab begins to eat a lot and starts digging in the substrate these are signs that he is getting ready to molt. Another thing to have ready before this happens is a couple of new shells for him to pick from. After he molts the next thing he will do is dig his way back to the surface and search for a new shell to climb into. At this point his skin will be jelly-soft until his new exoskeleton begins to harden, so, the best thing to do is go ahead and order a couple of shells when you order your hermit crab. The good news is you’re at the best place ever to get shells for your new friend! Right here at Reptile City. You do not want to disturb your crab while he is molting, just be patient and wait until he has climbed back to the surface and climbed into his new shell. Size and Longevity: This species ranges from around 2 to 4 in inches in length and has been reported to live up to 4 to 6 years. With extremely careful care these crabs can live up to 30 years or more! They are nocturnal and move mostly at night. They are very social creatures and seem to do best in groups of two or more. They are far more entertaining and more fun to watch if you have more than one because they will interact with each other. Habitat and Caging Requirements: These hermit crabs are arboreal, meaning they enjoy climbing. A good 5 to 10 gallon tank can house 2 or 3 of these cute little fellows, they don't require much room. You can use 6 to 8 inches of moist sand for substrate or moss stacked 6 to 8 inches deep. I have also found that adding a cuddle bone like parakeets use to keep their beak sharp helps with their molting by providing them with calcium. Use low-wattage bulbs for lighting, add a couple of water dishes, one with plain water and another with salt water, add rocks, corkwood, or driftwood and a couple of extra shells and you are all set to go for the life of your new friend. Temperature and Lighting Requirements: These animals are primarily nocturnal so they seem to do best with low-wattage bulbs for lighting. They are also used to tropical or subtropical temperatures so you need to keep the temperature of their habitat around 80 to 85 degrees and keep the substrate moist at all times. Feeding and Nutrition: These little guys seem to do well on commercial hermit crab food, but also have a huge appetite for many other food items as well such as: apples, bananas, peaches, pieces of fish, and chicken just to name a few. Handling and Care: These animals almost seem to enjoy being held at times. I have held them in one hand while I was reaching for food with the other. They would reach out their little claw, just like a hand, and take the food from my hand and put it in their mouth and eat it. I do not recommend holding them if they are trying to molt because they are very delicate at this time, but at any other time there is no problem handling them at all.