Hermit Crab

Dardanus megistos

About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 8 inches long

RANGE: Indo-Pacific; East Africa to Hawaii

HABITAT: Reefs and sandy areas; intertidal to 30 ft deep

DIET: Scavenger of plants and animals

ON EXHIBIT:  Seahorses: Beyond Imagination at River Journey

The common name, “hermit,” refers to this group of crabs living alone in discarded shells.  Although the exoskeleton on their head, claws and legs is hard and protective, most hermit crabs have long soft bodies.  Hermit crabs protect themselves from predators by living inside shells.  These shells are typically made by snails and then salvaged by the hermit crab.  As the crab outgrows its shell, it must leave it behind and find another larger shell. 

There are about 500 known species of hermit crabs.  Most live in oceans and estuaries, but there are some species that can live on land.  Hermit crabs and true crabs are not closely related to each other.