Do Hermit Crabs Get Along With Turtles?

You may be surprised to learn that hermit crabs and turtles have more than a few similarities, but do these similarities make them close enough to each other to allow them to live together? Over the course of this guide, we’re going to explore whether or not it’s a good idea to let your hermit crab live with your turtle.

Can You Put Hermit Crabs With Turtles?

In most cases, you shouldn’t have too many problems combining a habitat of hermit crabs and turtles, especially if there aren’t too many of them to crowd out the aquarium. In most cases, you’ll find that hermit crabs of the aquatic variety will get along better with aquatic turtles than two terrestrial variants.

Keep in mind that turtles eat hermit crabs in the wild, so you’ll need to make sure that your turtle is sufficiently domesticated and doesn’t show any signs of outwards aggression. If you fail to make sure of this, it’s nearly certain that your hermit crab will end up getting eaten by the turtle in short order.

Another huge part of making sure that hermit crabs and turtles can easily coexist is paying close attention to the needs of both species and matching them in the enclosure. Later on in the guide, we’ll take a closer look at the specifics of ensuring that your enclosure is suitable for both your turtle and your hermit crab.

Can Hermit Crabs and Turtles Live Together?

Hermit crabs and turtles out in the wild tend to be natural enemies because invertebrates like hermit crabs are a staple for turtles’ diets, providing them with a good source of protein.

Of course, this isn’t due to any malice on the part of the turtle, since every animal needs to eat to survive.

However, you may be surprised to learn that this doesn’t automatically mean that a turtle will attack a hermit crab on sight, especially if the turtle has been raised in captivity. Domesticated turtles tend to be a little more laid back than their wild brethren, especially if they’re mainly raised on a plant-based diet.

Another great thing is the range of similarities that hermit crabs and turtles share, since both of these species are aquatic and wouldn’t have any trouble living in an enclosure. They also both share many docile personality traits, with both animals rarely ever getting in an aggressive state of mind that could sour the relationship.

What to Consider Before Putting a Turtle and Hermit Crab Together

While these two animals may sound like they’re perfect fits for each other, you’ll still have to put some work into creating an environment in which they can both thrive. The first thing that you may want to account for is whether you’re trying to raise aquatic or terrestrial hermit crabs and turtles.

The answer to that question will determine what kind of environment you’ll have to create for them to live happily and safely. You’ll also want to consider how big the aquarium will be, and this will largely depend on the size of the turtle and the number of inhabitants you intend to have in there.

Keep in mind that the more animals you add to an aquarium, the higher the chance of conflict erupting. You’ll also have to clean the aquarium more frequently since more animals will dirty it quicker. Finally, you’ll have to consider how you intend to satisfy the diet of each species separately.

Do Hermit Crabs Eat Turtle Food?

One of the great things about combining turtles and hermit crabs in an enclosure is that both of them tend to like the same kind of food. However, unless your turtle and your crab get along exceedingly well, you may wish to avoid feeding them both in the same spot of the enclosure since that increases the chance of conflict.

Shared meals between the two species include fresh fruits and vegetables, but you’ll obviously have to cut them down a little bit smaller for the hermit crab than for the turtle. Both species also like to eat insects like worms, though once again, be sure to account for the size difference between both inhabitants.

Even more surprising is that hermit crabs can eat turtle food pellets that you purchase from your nearest pet store. While this may sound like a good thing, you’ll still have to make sure that your hermit crab stays clear of your turtle’s designated feeding area, lest it gets caught by the turtle.

Hermit crabs will also do their part to keep the aquarium clean for their new neighbor since they tend to feast on algae. If you see your hermit crab spending a lot of time by the glass, it may be clearing the algae off of it and making a meal of it, doing its part to maintain its shared living quarters.

Will Hermit Crabs and Turtles Fight?

If your turtle and your hermit crab are both domesticated, it will cut down on the chances of both of them duking it out. This is because both species tend to be extremely passive when they’re raised in captivity, and this highly reduces the chances of both of them getting into a scrap with one another.

However, there are a few situations when you can expect them to start fighting each other, and it all begins with stress. When animals like turtles get stressed, they start to panic and they may do something that’s quite out of character, including attacking the hermit crab that they’ve lived with so far.

Hermit crabs can also end up getting stressed, especially if they’re intimidated by the turtle that they share their environment with. You can tell that your hermit crab is stressed if it spends too much time in its shell, since that means that it’s scared for its life. If this persists, the two should be separated.

You’ll also want to make sure that your hermit crab can easily find shells that it deems worthy of living in. If a hermit crab doesn’t have a shell, it will likely get defensive, and if the turtle gets too close to it, it will likely get pinched. This may result in the turtle fighting back, which won’t end well for a hermit crab without a shell.

Aquatic and Terrestrial Hermit Crabs and Turtles

Another thing to keep in mind is that both of these species have both aquatic and terrestrial varieties. Aquatic versions of these species will tend to live in the water more frequently than anything else, though they will sometimes come on to land to find food or shells, in the case of hermit crabs.

On the other hand, there are also terrestrial versions of both of them, though terrestrial hermit crabs tend to be a little rarer than terrestrial turtles. Terrestrial creatures are happier living on land, though they will sometimes go into the water when they need to, such as when they’re being chased by a predator.

Be sure to match up the species types that you’re trying to combine in an enclosure so that they’re easier to raise and so that you don’t have to worry about creating two separate living environments. In most cases, you’ll want to raise aquatic versions of both of them since terrestrial hermit crabs tend to be harder to come by.

Enclosure Specs for Hermit Crabs and Turtles

Hosting two separate species in a single enclosure is often difficult, so you’ll have to take your time and do your research about which species will live together with the greatest ease. There are many different kinds of turtles and hermit crabs, and a few of them have relatively similar living preferences.

You’ll also need to put a lot of effort into creating the perfect habitat, as anything less could potentially lead to the death of one of the occupant species. Deciding to raise both hermit crabs and turtles can be a challenge, but it’s a rewarding one if you accomplish it properly, so let’s see what kind of enclosure you’ll need.

  • Size

The size of your aquarium will largely depend on the size of the turtle you intend to raise. Smaller turtles can typically live in an aquarium that’s about 40 gallons large, but medium turtles will need about 55 gallons of water so that they can maneuver freely without feeling restricted.

Larger turtles may even need aquariums that are about 100 gallons in volume, though you’ll also have to account for what would work best for your hermit crab. If you’re going to be keeping a hermit crab alongside your turtle, it’s advised to increase the size of the aquarium by about 10 gallons.

  • Temperature

The temperature of your habitat is another important consideration, since you won’t want the water to be too hot or two cold for either of the inhabitants. Most hermit crabs will be comfortable at temperatures of around 75 degrees, and this should work well for most turtles.

Keep in mind that some turtle species may prefer warmer water, so try to find a type of turtle that won’t have any trouble living in water at a temperature of around 75 degrees.

  • Lighting

The lighting in your enclosure is another key consideration if you want to make sure that your pets are comfortable. Improper lighting can ruin the diurnal cycle of your pets and it can also make them extremely stressed to the point that they’ll start fighting each other, so pay close attention to it.

You’ll typically want to keep the aquarium lights on a 12-hour cycle since both turtles and hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures. They’ll wait until the lights go out so they can explore in peace, which is a safety mechanism that both species developed in their natural environments.

  • Humidity

While turtles likely won’t be bothered by the humidity in your enclosure, hermit crabs are very particular when it comes to how humid their living spaces are. If there isn’t at least 80% humidity in your hermit crab’s enclosure, then its exoskeleton may end up drying out, potentially even suffocating it.

Keep in mind that the perfect level of humidity for your hermit crab will depend on its species and whether it’s a terrestrial or aquatic variant. Be sure to check and see what level of humidity works best for your particular hermit crab to make sure that it’s as comfortable as possible.

  • Access to Water

Being able to access water is important for both turtles and hermit crabs. You’ll want to make sure that there’s an area of your tank where both species can easily get into the water. Hermit crabs require access to water because they tend to store some in their shells just in case of emergencies.

Turtles like to soak in water since it aids them in digestion and it also helps keep their skin healthy. Try to make a gradually deeper part of the tank starting at the basking platform where both your turtle and your hermit crab can comfortably work their way into the deeper areas.

  • Cleaning

One of the best things about hermit crabs is that they’re good cleaners and they don’t make too much of a mess. Most hermit crabs will poop in their shells and eat it, more often than not. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for turtles, who will likely leave their droppings all around the aquarium.

You’ll want to clean the water relatively frequently when you’re housing two of these animal species together, and you’ll also want to spot clean the substrate to ensure that it doesn’t get too dirty. 

  • Appearance and Decorations

Finally, you may also want to consider how you intend to decorate your aquarium, though this won’t have a huge impact on the living conditions of either of your pets. However, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t block off any crucial avenues in the tank with your decorations, since this can result in your pets getting themselves stuck.

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