Coeonbota perlatus (C.perlatus) suitable in Crabitat?


First time I meet C.perlatus :

The first time I meet C.perlatus was in 2002. At that time, I could not find detail information for this species, so I only used fresh water, I did not use sea water. He dead after one year and several months in crabitat. He molted 2 times.

Size: Shield length 13mm
Set up: Plastic case, no sea water dish, substrates used Coral Bone mixed with 5-6mm sand (At that time I thought that big size land hermit crab need bigger size of substrates), no lighting, have shelter and Driftwood
Food: Apple, bread, rice etc, very simple

Bought at August 2002, original color was bright orange.

After first molt, body color did not change too much. I think he was already absorbed nutrition that he need in the wild, so body color had not been affected.

After second molt, his body lost a lot of orange color. Skin is not shinny. He naked and dead.

After the dead of C.perlatus, I started to find more information about this species. I found below article in 2006.

This article mentioned that C.perlatus require sea water or water of high salinity as they are found living near coastal shorelines. So we must give them sea water in Crabitat.

Geographic Range

Coenobita perlatus is found in the Indo-Pacific from the Islands of Aldabra, Mauritius, and Seychelles through Samoa. These areas are located in the south central Pacific Ocean about 1,600 miles northeast of New Zealand, north of Madagascar and directly above the 10 degree latitude line. (Ingle, 1993)



Coenobita perlatus are found living near coastal shorelines. Coenobita perlatus require regular access to the sea or water of high salinity. They are never far from shore or adjacent dunes, and have been found in tidal pools, sandy areas, and humid areas with dune vegetation. Migration occurs from the dune areas to the sea when C. perlatus need to release their eggs into the water or are in need of water to maintain their body moisture. (Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Veltman, 1997)



Physical Description


80 g (average)

(2.82 oz)



800 mm (average)

(31.5 in)


Coenobita perlatus are approximately 80mm long and 80g in body mass. They occupy the multicolored discarded shells of gastropods in order to protect their soft, coiled abdomen and inner organs such as the liver and gonads. These land hermit crabs are decapods, which means they have 10 legs (5 pairs): The first pair is modified as the claws or chelipeds (pinchers), and two pairs of legs are used for walking. The next pair, the claws, are used for defense and transporting food and water to the their mouth. The last two pairs are highly modified but are used more for cleaning than holding on to the shell. When walking, these crabs drag their shells along, but despite this burden, they can run quickly. Each C. perlatus has a loosely fitting carapace that covers the forepart of the body. Coenobita perlatus prefer shells that fit snugly in order to prevent evaporation of moisture and to protect their soft abdomens. Coenobita perlatus have four antennae that help them to sense their surroundings. They have shown some geographic physical variation, but this variations have not been studied in depth.


Male and female C. perlatus can only be distinguished when they are out of their shells. Both the female and male genital pores are located on the coxal ventral surface of each pereiopod (on an appendage of one of the first five abdominal segments), and a long coxal tube (an extension of a pereiopod which is joined broadly to lateral margins of tergites) is present in the male.


(Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Veltman, 1997)




These creatures reproduce sexually and will not reproduce in captivity. Reproduction occurs while both individuals are in intermolt (hard-shelled stage), often in or near the burrows of males, or on land near the sea. Male C. perlatus place a spermatophore on the female (externally) which is then dissolved by secretions as the eggs are released. The eggs (about 10,000-50,000 per fertilization) are attached to the pleopods (appendages used for swimming) on the female's abdomen and remain there for some time. Female C. perlatus moisten the eggs with water that is held in the gastropod shell. After the eggs develop, females carry them on their abdomens to the sea, where they leave them on wet sand or a wet rock for the tide to carry them out to sea. The eggs are hatched and the larvae undergo planktonic development. Young C. perlatus are small, molting several times while still at sea in order to reach adult size. They then move to land, where they are vulnerable to their predators until they find a shell. Once C. perlatus have found shells, they live on land the rest of their lives. (Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Ingle, 1993, Veltman, 1997)



Longest known lifespan in wild

25-30 years (high)


Expected lifespan in captivity

1-4 years (average)


Coenobita perlatus can live up to 25-30 years in the wild, but once in captivity they typically live from 1-4 years.



Despite the common name hermit crab, which alludes to a solitary lifestyle, these are very social creatures. They travel in groups of about 25 and are found, in the wild, living in colonies of up to 100 or more. Coenobita perlatus are nocturnal. During the day, when it is hot, they bury themselves in the damp sand or take shelter under ledges of logs to keep cool and reduce moisture loss. Afternoon tropical sun is a danger to these crabs because they require a certain amount of moisture for their gills to operate properly. If they become too dry, they can suffocate. In addition to taking cover from the sun, they also have gills on their big claw in order to conserve moisture. These gills must be kept wet to maintain good health.


When C. perlatus no longer fit their shells they look for bigger ones. The original occupant of the shell, if still present, is quickly removed, and the aggressor moves into its new home. If frightened, land hermit crabs may grasp things tightly with their claws. Even the smallest C. perlatus can draw blood if scared. (Hazlett 1988, Ingle 1993)


Communication and Perception

Coenobita perlatus have been observed communicating to one another by making sounds referred to as chirping. They use their antennae to sense smells and have excellent vision. They are also sensitive to vibrations.


Food Habits


Known as "garbage collectors of the seashore," Coenobita perlatus individuals are scavengers, eating a variety of dead and rotting material found along the seashore. These crabs, in general, do not fight over food and can often go long periods of time without food or water. Most C. perlatus carry water in their shells, which the use for breathing and as a water source when they are far from the sea. (Ingle, 1993)



Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Coenobita perlatus can be used as a source of food for humans, but are most commonly found as household pets. They also play a vital role in seashore clean-up because they are scavengers. By ridding the shoreline of dead sea matter and other material that collects on the shore, hermit crabs are beneficial in keeping the shoreline clean and creating a healthier environment for humans and other aquatic and coastal organisms. (Veltman, 1997)



Humans are currently the greatest danger to Coenobita perlatus. Though these creatures are not going extinct and are not yet endangered, we humans are destroying their habitats, collecting the crabs for food, over- collecting for pet shops, and polluting the environment. There are many conservation actions currently taking place that affect C. perlatus indirectly. These include shoreline clean-up of human pollution, and prevention of pollution by factories and barges. Pollution is a great threat to C. perlatus because they need a healthy environment to reproduce properly, a safe place to grow their eggs, and clean land and water to live on and drink from.

Other Comments


Growth on land is accomplished by the shedding of their exoskeleton. It takes about ten days for their skin to harden after molting, and as they grow larger, they search out roomier shells to more comfortably accommodate thier bodies. (Hazlett, 1998, Veltman, 1997)

Case of losing color of C.perlatus (Or some case related to C.perlatus):
2006_10_11台灣慘事兩隻橙紅先後兩天內死去 (Taiwan)

2007_3_31外國救救橙紅陸寄居蟹 (HCA forum)
2007_7_31橙紅的管道與成本 (Taiwan)
2007_9_12外國Straws! Expert advice & opinions wanted (HCA forum)
2007_9_28外國Another Proof that Strawberries Can Change Body Color (HCA forum)

(HCA forum)

2008_2_29外國個案-starmaiden (HCA forum)
2008_5_3台灣總結一年來的橙紅飼養觀察報告---橙紅的三悲哀 (Taiwan)  
2008_6_4香港網絡個案 (Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong)
2008_6_19台灣連蟹皇也 (Taiwan)
(Hong Kong)
2008_8_8香港網絡個案2 (Hong Kong)
2008_8_24香港再次證明橙紅體色變淡 (Hong Kong)
2008_9_12香港網絡個案3 (Hong Kong)
2008_11_3香港網絡個案4 (Hong Kong)

(Hong Kong)
2009_6_2香港橙紅的確超級不好養 (Hong Kong)
2009_6_3香港希望大家提供橙紅陸寄居蟹脫皮後體色會變淡的個人經驗 (Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong)
2009_9_30台灣蟹皇的回應 (Taiwan)
2009_10_20香港橙紅的報告(未經證實,不定期發表) (Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong)
2009_10_30關於野外橙紅陸寄居蟹的論文 (Article about wild C.perlatus)

2010_5_26香港僅用11天蛻皮的橙紅 (Hong Kong)
2010_12_9台灣總結3年來的橙紅飼養觀察報告 (Taiwan)

2011_5_7台灣總結4年來的橙紅飼養觀察報告 (Taiwan)
2011_6_5香港我家橙紅快死了!!!!! (Hong Kong)
2011_7_2台灣橙紅新手經驗分享 (Taiwan)

2011_7_22台灣我的橙紅脫皮了 (Taiwan)
2011_9_19外國Average Strawberry Captivity Age (HCA forum)

2012_10_18橙紅陸寄居蟹一定是橙紅色的嗎 (Wild C.perlatus also lose color)

2013_1_5外國Straw observation - lower temps (HCA forum)
2013_1_20外國What is the life expectancy for strawberries in captivity (HCA forum)
2013_1_26國內关于草莓寄居蟹体色及习性调查 (China)
2013_1_29台灣玫瑰岩鹽與海水的比較!!!(論點心得分享) (Taiwan)
2013_2_12國內我的大草莓暴斃了 (China)

2013_3_11 香港是否該用飼養海棲寄居蟹的方法去飼養橙紅
(Hong Kong)
2013_4_23外國C. perlatus (Strawberry) death rate (HCA forum)
2013_6_27外國Rota島的橙紅陸寄居蟹實況 (Article about wild C.perlatus)

Share my 9.5 years' experience:
In June 2003, I decided to share the new C.perlatus I kept. It is because this C.perlatus had been already with me over 3.5 years. I hope my experience will help everyone to take care with this species.

In 2008, there was a boom of C.perlatus, one of a land hermit crab shop called ‘Art Crabs’ opened, and C.perlatus could also easily to be found in normal pet shop. Many new buyers bought C.perlatus but how many people can keep C.perlatus more than one year?

As I already kept C.violascens 2 years with sea water, lighting also set up, I think I can try to keep C.perlatus once again. So I bought a small C.perlatus in 2009. Before I suggested not to buy big & jumbo size crab (for all species), so if I bought C.perlatus, I must buy small one.

My small C.perlatus, original color is bright red.


Size: Shield length 6mm
Set up: 20 inch length (later change to 23 inch) tank, left side is activity area, right side for molt.
Sea water dish x 1, using Red sea salt or Ocean sea salt, change water everyday
Fresh water dish x 1, change water everyday
Substrates: used 2-3mm size coral sand
Lighting: EXO TERRA UVB2.0
Shelter: Plastic flower pot (cut as half shape), but now using ZOO MED cork rounds
Food: Carrot, papaya, potato, sweet potato, shrimp, fish meat, moss etc (Hikari krill, brine shrimp, worm etc)
Other food: Egg shell, cuttlebone, crab shell, change every week
*With one C.cavipes in same tank 

20 inch tank
2013 change to 23 inch tank

After first molt in November 2019, color slightly lose, cannot keeep as his original color, but still keep bright red. Until 2011, after molt 3 times, he lost color very much, big claw almost became white, only have some orange stipe on legs.

In 2012, color start to improve. After molt in April 2013, orange color started to increase, please see below pictures.

November 2014, he changed a new bigger shell.






Share 10 years' experience from C.Sam:
A hermit crab lover from Taiwan (C.Sam), start keeping C.perlatus from 2007, it is over 10 years now. And He also successed to breeding C.perlatus.

- Over 10 years female C.perlatus (1)
- Over 10 years female C.perlatus (2)
- Over 10 years female C.perlatus (3)
- Over 10 years female C.perlatus (4)
- Over 10 years male C.perlatus (5)
- Over 10 years male C.perlatus (6)
- Over 10 years male C.perlatus (7)
Over 10 years male C.perlatus (8)

How to take care
Until now, still do not know which point is the most important that can keep C.perlatus so long, some points already mentioned by Tony on his website.

But for these few years, keep below rules:
a. Give them food every day. Meat and Vegetable for every meal. Meat should be boiled, e.g. sea food
b. Give them fresh water dish and sea water dish
c. Always give moss, crab shell, bark in tank
d. If find a crab molt soon, will isolate to another case (use coconut bark as substrates)
e. DO NOT force them to chnage shell, let them chose what they want

Why do not suggest to keep big size crab?
In fact, C.Sam do not suggest to keep big crab for all species, not only C.perlatus. C.Sam bought small, middle and big size C.perlatus before.

Big size: Suddenly dead after 10 months or even one or two months
Middle size: Bought 6 crabs, 2 still alive until now
Small size: Bought 6 crabs, all alive until now.

C.Sam think that seller almost import big size C.perlatus, as big size is more attractive and can be sold at better price. Big size C.perlatus easily die, ‘’Sales good, easily die’’ this reason is just fit seller’s Mentality. Big size crabs need more space, so need bigger tank. And Big size C.perlatus live in wild for many years, adaptability to Crabitat is not very good, so do not suggest to keep big C.perlatus.

Although my 9.5 years old C.perlatus lost color, he is very heathy.

By considering above case of losing color of C.perlatus and experience of me and C.Sam. I am going to say DO NOT buy C.perlatus, but if you buy, you must follow below (Some points same as C.Sam):

- Chose small size, DO NOT buy big & jumbo size, they are easy to die.
- Usually give them carotene food and sea food
- DO NOT touch them too much, only if you want to take them out for cleaning or take picture after molt (for record)
- If you are beginner, please DO NOT buy C.perlatus. You should at least have over one or two year experience, then think about C.perlatus.

I think sea water is more important than lighting (UVB). Some people think UVB can improve their color. But what I used is 2.0, UVB is very low, and C.Sam even do not have any lighting. Until now, we still do not sure if land hermit crab will be same as reptile which need UVB to provides necessary vitamins.

So, I think if we compare the importance of sea water, food, and lighting, I would say:
Sea water > Food > Lighting

Small C.perlatus also lose color, but their adaptability is much better. They will become more stable after several molt, and color begin to improve. The most important thing is they adapted the environment of Cabitat.

For Big C.perlatus, originally their adaptability is not good (May be very old). When they moved to Cabitat, apart from losing color, they will die because they are unable to adapt the environment of Cabitat.

If you want to interact with land hermit crabs, and always want to touch them, you are not suitable to buy C.perlatus, even other speices.

At last, let’s share some picture and movie of wild C.perlatus
Wake Island - Hermit Crabs
Hermit Crabs Galore - High Def
Do crabs go off with bones?

Follow up:

25th December 2014
Below article is from < Biology of Arthropoda > page 112, this may explain why adaptability of C.perlatus to Crabitat is not very good. May be same direction as my conclusion mentioned, big size C.perlatus already used to maintain blood concentration condition in the wild, adaptability will be lower than small crab.