Can You Keep Halloween Moon Crabs as Pets?
The answer is … YES!
I was recently asked to write something up about Halloween Moon Crabs by a friend, Mary, who recently acquired one. She loves her pet (a lot!) and is planning on getting a second one to keep it company since crabs are known to be social creatures by nature and live longer, healthier lives when in the company of crabs of the same species.
Halloween Moon Crabs (also known as the Halloween Hermit Crab) can be found in mangrove, sand dunes and rain forests along the Pacific coast from Mexico south to Peru and Costa Rica. They can grow anywhere from 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6.5 cm) long and have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years! They are nocturnal and can digs burrows – sometimes as long as 5 feet (1.5 meters) in the wild. They live in the forest at least some of their adult lives but need to return to the ocean to breed. Moon Crabs are largely herbivorous and consume leaf litter and seedlings.
The Moon Crab has a pair of largely purple claws, reddish-orange legs, and an almost entirely blackish carapace (the dorsal [upper] section of the exoskeleton or shell), with a pair of yellow, orange or maroon spots behind the eyes, and an additional pair of whitish spots on the central-lower carapace.
HOLLOWEEN MOON CRABS AS PETS
The Halloween Moon Crabs do quite well in captivity. They are tame but do require constant attention. Being nocturnal, Moon Crabs sleep during the day and come out at night. These reptiles require a lot of heat and moisture and several homes (shells) throughout their lifespan.
Halloween Moon Crabs do not need much space when they are young, and as they grow their environment must be able to sustain them. The most common size for an enclosure is a 10 or 15-gallon aquarium with at least two water dishes and some things to hide in.
Moon Crabs enjoy climbing, so make sure they have something to climb on. This can be rocks, rough wood, plastic plants, or better yet, a piece of cork bark.
Halloween Crabs need access to water to keep their gills moist. The water dishes should adequate and must be shallow and wide to allow access and keep the water from running dry. Water should be changed daily to ensure the water is clean and to prevent bacteria from growing.
A moist substrate needs to be provided to create a good humidity level for your pet and provide them a place to dig. The most commonly used substrate is about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of sand, plus an additional 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) of moist peat moss. Moon crabs need a large amount of water to survive and a constant humidity level right around 70%. The terrarium should be set up so that the temperature is between 80° and 85°F and should not be allowed to drop below 78°F or be raised above 85°F at any time.
A low wattage light bulb is the most suitable lighting for Moon Crabs because it helps keep the humidity high while keeping the terrarium darker. Less light will make the crab feel more comfortable and safe while still providing enough light to see them and enough heat to create evaporation.
Molting is the process of the crab losing a layer of skin and growing a new one, which happens about once every 18 months or so. This process usually takes several days to complete. The first signs that a crab is molting is when it turns a very dull color and/or turns white around the eyes. During this time, darkness is encouraged and handling should be limited to little or none. Provide food as normal but keep the lights low or off, and do not try to peak at or disturb the crab if it is hiding.
Related: My Moon Crab is Molting. Help! What Should I Do?
After the molting process is complete the crab will eat some or most of its old skin to gain the calcium and other nutrients in it. This is natural and should be allowed to happen. If the exoskeleton is not completely eaten within two days of molting then it is okay to take it out. For a healthier diet, some people recommend grinding up the remainder of the exoskeleton and adding it to the next meal.
Good food sources for the Halloween Moon Crab include fruits such as what they would find in their natural environments like mangoes, papayas, and coconuts. Vegetables of all kinds also provide proper nutrients. They will also eat meats, but the meat must be cooked thoroughly or your Moon Crab may be at risk of health problems. Crabs will not eat when they are not hungry, so overfeeding will not be a problem. Place a small amount of food in the feeding dish each day and remove any left-overs from the day before. If there is no leftover food then try adding a little more each day until there is at least a little leftover. Under feeding your pet can be deadly.
Each Moon Crab has its own attitude and behavior, so handling can sometimes be tricky. Try to handle your pet crab every day so that it will get used to human interaction. Doing so may change a “crabby” disposition to a more human-friendly one. (Halloween Crabs have those pincers and know-how to use them.) Some may always want to pinch or stay tucked away and then there are others who are always craving attention and are not shy at all. The best advice is to learn your crab’s behaviors and deal with them accordingly.
Updated: This post was first published on 8/4/1014.
SOURCES: ReptileCity.com and Wikipedia
** Thank you, MARY STEWART and “SEBASTIAN” for suggesting I do a post on Halloween Moon Crabs. **
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See also: South American Horned Frog, Pacman Frog, Cuteness Alert!Do Halloween Moon Crabs Make Good Pets? Find out here! Click To Tweet
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21 thoughts on “Do Halloween Moon Crabs Make Good Pets? Find out here!”
Halloween moon crabs are definitely not the same as hermit crabs. These crabs need several inches of dirt to burrow and they molt in their underground burrows. It’s best to have 2 crabs as they are social creatures and do better in pairs. You need at the very least a 20 gallon enclosure! They love to climb as well as need to dig burrows like I mentioned Earlier. They are nocturnal also and eat at night too! They need access to salt water and regular water as well. So 2 wide shallow bowls are necessary. They need to be able to fit in the bowls but they cannot swim!!! So water must be shallow!
I would like to point out that you call them Halloween Hermit Crabs and say they need many shells in their life, however they do not live in shells at all and are not hermit crabs.
So, Noah, what are they?
Enlighten us, Noah. What are they then?
Hermit crabs are decapod crustaceans not closely related to real crabs at all! They have soft abdomens which is why they live in shells and as they grow must find larger shells to move into. Real crabs to not do that as they already have a strong exoskeleton and molt as they grow. They molt underground in the tunnels that they love to burrow. Their enclosure needs to have deep substrate that allows them to do this.
I wanted to know if moon crabs can live with hermit crabs, or do they have to have a companion of the same species. But overall can they live with a hermit crab without any problems such as fighting.
No, they certainly cannot live together, these crabs are not even hermit crabs.
Hey I got a brand new Halloween crab a little over 2 months ago. When I got him he had a tiny 2 gallon cage (I felt awful for just now getting a 15 gallon cage as I did not have the money earlier) and he came with a rock cave and a small watering dish. His floor was covered in wet leaves but within a couple days I had managed to get him some sand. Now I am on day two of the new cage, and I have added new sand, and some rocks around his water dish. He has a low heat lamp that slightly warms the sand and he seems to enjoy it. The first week I had him, I tried vegetables and fruits (like I had heard to feed him) when he didn’t eat that AT ALL I got frozen polluck, and thawed it in small pieces to feed him, and he liked that alright. After a week or two of polluck, I started feeding him bits of shrimp and he absolutely loved it so I continue to feed it to him today. I know my mom loves my crab ghost (his name as he is a Halloween crab) she tried to playfully and lightly bury him in sand, then when I went to check on him about an hour ago, his eyes were full in sand so I thought “uhh oh” then I lightly sprayed him in lukewarm water until the sand fell off. I try to respect his space as an animal, and not to pick him up often as it seems to annoy him, but I would honestly like to hold him more. I have dealt with birds, chickens, lizards, cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, salamanders, and now for my first time, a Halloween crab. I am almost desperate for tips, as I want my ghost to have a long and happy life, if you have any suggestions or tips, please write to me, and thanks so much for all previous advice 🙂
Hi there! Congrats on having a Halloween Crab! They’re the coolest things. I don’t personally own one, but have met a few, and handled them too. It sounds to me like you’re right on track with the care it needs. Your experimenting with diet seems to be going well. I like that you gently sprayed him with lukewarm water to get the sand out of his eyes, and especially love that you respect his space. I wish I could recommend a good book for you, but there doesn’t seem to be much on the market. I trust you’re doing the right things. Keep it up! 🙂
I was wondering if you possibly had more information on the crabs molting process? I have a Moon Crab and there is little to no information about them, even the pet store guy didn’t know this crab molted (thanks a lot). So, I’m a little worried, we’re on day 2 and it looks like he’s having a rough time getting the top of his shell off and he’s lost on of his legs. I’m just wondering if this is normal or if I need to prepare myself to lose my little guy? 🙁
Hey, Keira. I just put a blog post together for you. Here is the link. (I hope you’ll get this.) https://www.animalbliss.com/moon-crab-is-molting/
If happens from time to time that a crab will lose a leg or two. Don’t worry. It will regenerated over time. After this molt you’ll notice the beginnings of a new leg. It should take about 3 molts for it to grow normal size.
As far as having a rough tie getting the top of his shell off, I’d say don’t worry about that either. It can take several days to several weeks. Check out that link I just gave you to get more information.
Thanks so much for checking out my blog!
Hello I just wanted to point out that your Halloween crab will live a much longer and happier life if you give her 6 inches or more of Pete moss. Because they are not like hermit crabs they like to dig tunnels and in order for them to melt and to continue to grow they need those tunnels
Some great information! We have had fiddler crabs in the past, and currently have a red crab in another tank, but we just purchased one on these little guys and I was curious if you knew of any safe live plants that could be added? I’ve seen a couple places that have used small potted bamboos but was wondering if a mini palm could be used. Also, are there any types of wood that should not be added to their habitat?
Thank you so much!
I have never heard of these before. They are very colorful but I don’t know if I would want one for a pet. I guess I have never seen them because I live on the Atlantic side on the gulf coast. Thank you for sharing
What a cool idea for a pet! Lovely colors and interesting to read about something a little more exotic than the average pet! Great info 🙂
We ♡ learning more about the blue moon crabs
Its so pretty!I would love to get one for my kids.
Wow, I had no idea that people kept crabs as pets. These Halloween Moon Crabs look really cute. Thank you for sharing this informational post.
I’m more a dog girl but they are definately interesting to look at. It’s pretty obvious where they got their name … they kinda look like a Jack-O-Latern. Very interesting read!
How sweet is this….while I’m strictly a cat guy,these crabs do look like a hoot to have as a pet
This is great! Thanks! I love my new pet! Sebastian is super cool and will hopefully have a friend soon 🙂