The Five Dollar Pet
When first purchasing a land hermit crab, we are relying on the trained staff of pet stores to guide us through care and the selection of suitable equipment. Products that will keep your new pet land hermit crabs alive, happy and healthy. We are entrusting these pet stores to have knowledge of land hermit crab care, and to set a good example with their enclosure.
Often, people’s opinions of what land hermit crabs are, and need, comes from their introduction to hermit crabs in the pet store. If the pet store enclosure has no water, no lid, no heating and food then the people that take hermit crabs home without investigating further run the risk of having hermit crabs that perish purely from ignorance, despite wanting to do all they can to do the best by their new friends.
Even more disturbing, is where the pet store employee has stated that they only live for three to six months, kept ‘in some sort of a cage’ and be fed table scraps, and marketed as a cheap and easy pet. Without what they need to survive and to moult (shed their exoskeleton/skin) they will soon die and be replaced, becoming ‘a disposable pet’.
Unfortunately, this fate has been given to thousands of land hermit crabs around the world. Many owners only find out about the needs of land hermit crabs either post-purchase or after having one or more die. Confusion as to what could be wrong prompting research (often on the internet) to find out why their hermit crab died when they followed the advice they were given, unaware how poor their initial introduction to land hermit crab care was.
On return to the pet store, the educated eye is widened at the many problems that exist, especially with respect to their need for humidity and constant source of water. There is often anger or disappointment from the owner of land hermit crabs at seeing such a wonderful creature treated so poorly, dismay when their heart-felt pleas for changes are ignored, with no changes made.
Many have rescued hermit crabs from pet store conditions out of concern for their welfare, often to have the hermit crabs perish because of pre-existing conditions from which they can not recover. Others have taken in free caresheets for the pet stores to read, and distribute to customers drawn in by the antics of the sweet hermit crabs, wanting to know more.
Unfortunately, many feel that It is only once the pet store management takes the caresheets on board, or opens up a good book on land hermit crab and applies it to their enclosure, and trains their staff on land hermit crab care, that any changes will be made. Until the company takes responsibility for the care of the hermit crabs within their store and the guidance they offer to customers, the problem continues.
Fortunately, sometimes this can be motivated by letters to the owners or managers of pet stores who may be unaware of the conditions and the only ones to really make the decision to change. In addition, many large corporations such as PetCo and PetsMart have customer service and quality control sections, which will contact the stores involved and prompt changes.
The Hip Pocket
Once the stores realise that land hermit crabs make wonderful pets and that people are willing to buy essential items such as: glass tank housing with lids; heating; lighting; humidity and temperature gauges; variety of foods; calcium sources and more. Many soon realise that a starter kit may cost much more than a few dollars as they have been marketed, to keep them happy and healthy. Many owners are willing to invest in that initial start up expense. Then there is further purchases of caves and hideouts; isolation units; tank decorations; larger tanks; backgrounds and more to further improve the lives of hermit crabs which are now kept for years or more, multiple moults and searching for shells for the growing hermit crab body.
I hope that once the dollars add up many pet stores realise that keeping land hermit crabs in a life-supporting environment can earn them more money than selling hermit crabs themselves, they will make the changes needed.
Importance of Display
As we return to the first meeting of hermit crab and potential owner, the display is the most important signal on the status and care of land hermit crabs. The next step in the progression is for the store to stock the essentials near the hermit crab enclosure, or provide a list of items that are essential prior to sale. This can be a difficult step for many pet stores because of the old fear that once people realise how much is involved not just time-wise but the investment in creating a self-supporting living environment for tropical animals that need special care, they may not sell with their ‘cheap pet’ tag removed.
However, with the correct heating and lighting, enclosure and active hermit crabs the hermit crab enclosure can often draw the attentions of people who will make a fuss of the curious creatures and bring people back again and again to that store with a lasting impression of quality care and optimal health of land hermit crabs. Much different to the negative image of dead hermit crab bodies strewn throughout or fly-ridden food and bedding causing eyes to dart away in disgust and sadness. Healthy and active in an aesthetically appealing environment, the hermit crabs are now an asset to the pet store. More importantly, the business has taken responsibility for the pets they stock PLUS sell a lot more supplies in the process.
Importance of Feedback
It is important that you list which location you are complaining about, and write details of your visit and the conditions observed, and follow up with praise or constructive criticism after a month where appropriate. There have been many cases where conditions have improved so much that the pet store was then recommended to many, those businesses rewarded for the changes they have made by sales and praise.
If you know of a Pet Store in your area that you would recommend to others, why not fill out the form below for it to be added to the Pet Store Report map of Hermie-friendly stores around the globe. If you have photos, upload them to the Pet Stores section.
Free Caresheets and Support
If you know of a pet store that would like some free caresheets, or some advice on land hermit crab care and information about stockists of items, please take down their address and contact details and fill out the form here.
If they would like a visit by an experienced land hermit crab owner with ideas how to improve the conditions of the hermit crabs, or perhaps the training of pet store employees, that may be possible in some areas where volunteers are located.
There are a number of groups which are working with pet stores directly to improve their care and are regular customers as well, on hand for some quick questions or to give demonstrations of sexing, distinguishing between species and other areas of land hermit crab care.