Hermit crabs are perennial favorites in the pet industry. Their cute appearance, ease of care and interesting behaviors make them popular pets, especially for families with young children.
Despite these attributes, the popularity of hermit crabs does not appear to be growing, according to Paul Manger, manager at Florida Marine Research, one of the largest suppliers of hermit crabs and hermit crab products.
“The popularity of hermit crabs has been in equilibrium for the past three years,” Manger said.
As for possible reasons for this stasis, Manger cites “the cautious attitude of the consumer and the lack of child bearing within the millennial generation.”
While the demand for hermit crabs may not be growing, there are still plenty of crab enthusiasts out there, which makes having a hermit crab section worthwhile.
“This is a very niche market; however, there is a large consumer base, so I recommend that all pet retailers dedicate a space to hermit crabs,” said Josh Panos, national sales assistant manager for Zoo Med. “Hermit crabs are very affordable and easy to maintain, making one the perfect pet for a beginner hobbyist.”
“It is a fun and affordable hobby that the whole family can enjoy,” Panos said. “Zoo Med offers a wide variety of shells, from glow-in-the-dark to decorative in all different shapes and sizes, which adds to the excitement by giving consumers options and customizable features.”
Manger recommends creating a hermit crab end cap.
“An effective way to merchandise our crabs would be utilizing an end cap,” Manger said. “The objective is to have all the products in one area in order for the customer to see the complete unit, which can be taken home and all of the products available for the crab’s comfort. Hermit crabs in numbers large enough to create a perception of activity will create great sales for the livestock.”
Along with the crabs themselves, Florida Marine Research offers a complete range of products for their care. These include additional shells in their natural form, as well as shells painted with a variety of designs. The company also sells the crabs in natural shells and painted shells. Some varieties available include shells that look like clowns, hats, football helmets, fish, fruit, turtles and more.
One aspect of crab care that can be overlooked is their need for heat.
“The critical element for a crab’s longevity is heat,” Manger said. “Temperatures of 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit are an acceptable range.”
Because of the crabs’ temperature needs, include thermometers – such as those offered by Florida Marine Research or Zoo Med – in the hermit crab section. Retailers should also stock a few products for keeping the crabs warm. One example is Zoo Med’s Hermit Crab Heater. This self-adhesive heating pad sticks under the enclosure. It is safe for plastic crab habitats.
Although crabs enjoy warm temperatures, they can become overheated, too. Manger has a suggestion for helping with this problem.
“As the temperature rises in the crab home, air flow is needed,” he said. “Without this airflow, a respiratory problem will develop. The remedy for the heat problem is to place the home in a cooler area or place an air pump into the crab habitat. Plugging the hose [end] and creating a small hole in the hose will force air into the crab home.”
Zoo Med is bringing a whole new look to hermit crabs and their accessories with glow-in-the-dark products.
“We recently introduced a whole new hermit crab product line that glows in the dark,” Panos said. “We now offer a Glow in the Dark Hermit Crab Kit, water bowls, cage furniture, cleaning accessories and even Hermit Crab Glow in the Dark shells. It now makes night time viewing of these little critters very enjoyable and fun for the whole family.”
Zoo Med and Florida Marine Research also offer non-glowing complete hermit crab kits for customers who prefer a more traditional habitat appearance.
Food and Drink
Hermit crabs have a reputation for eating just about anything, but they still need a complete and nutritious diet.
Florida Marine Research offers Land Hermit Crab Food in two sizes to provide crabs with proper nutrition. The company also has a Land Hermit Crab Treat. Zoo Med offers hermit crab foods in both dry and canned formulas.
Hermit crabs require both fresh water and salt water to drink. Retailers must inform crab owners of this, as well as telling them that adding table salt to water does not create suitable salt water for the crabs. To create appropriate salt water for hermit crabs, owners can use Zoo Med’s Hermit Crab Salt Conditioner. It adds salt and calcium to the water to ensure the health of hermit crabs. It also removes harmful chlorine from tap water.
While hermit crabs are long lived and easy to care for, their needs for additional shells, appropriate food, salt water and other specific habitat requirements provide the retailer with significant sales opportunities.