Care-A-Lot Pet Supply has long been a favorite destination for animal lovers like me around Hampton Roads to find supplies for their companions. That’s why I was disappointed to hear that they are selling hermit crabs—complex animals who can live for up to 30 years in their natural habitat, but are ripped from the wild and often doomed to a dismal few months of life. And I was even more disappointed that after contacting the company urging it to cease crab sales, I received no reply from the owner.
Hermit crabs thrive in colonies, where they often sleep piled up together. They enjoy climbing, foraging, and exploring and have even been discovered to collaborate in teams to find food. All land hermit crabs sold in stores, however, have been plucked from the wild, as they do not breed readily in captivity. They are often violently ripped from their protective shells and forced into shells coated in toxic paint that can slowly kill them. After purchase, most hermit crabs do not live for more than a few months to a year, spending their short captive lives in barren, arid cages. Many slowly perish from suffocation because their modified gills require high humidity to breathe. Even when stores provide care sheets for these crabs, most purchasers leave the store ill-equipped to care for these animals, who have a myriad of complex requirements, including regulated temperature and humidity; de-chlorinated fresh and salt water; deep, moist bedding for molting; fresh fruits and vegetables; a large aquarium habitat; and much, much more.