How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Hermit Crab?

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by the author of What School Should Have Taught You: 75 Skills You’ll Actually Use in Life

Let’s say you’re walking through the pet store because you’re maybe interested in bringing a new pet into the home. Dogs are too much work, cats are too much attitude, and you’re looking for something that’s not going to break the bank and is relatively easy to take care of.

As you browse past the aisle of kajillion-dollar geckos with names that are bigger than they are, you come across a selection of colorful boxes with little, painted shells inside of them – hermit crabs.

So now you’re wondering: how much does it cost to keep a hermit crab? Is this a pet that won’t break the bank? Let’s dive into the numbers below.

Hermit crab cost – $20-$30

Buying the crab himself is the easy and misleading part of the equation. It’s very easy to look at the price tag on the box full of shells and think that $15 for a pet is reasonable. Fifteen dollars really isn’t that bad, but you also have to remember you’re bringing a beach creature into your home. Beach creatures need beach habitats.

I have noticed that virtually every pet store on the planet has some type of package deal, however, where if you purchase a particular size of hermit crab, they’ll throw in the clear, plastic box and a few other necessities for free. From what I’m seeing, these deals tend to cost around $20-30, and normally include your feeder, sand for the crab to sit around in, a water dish, and a few extra shells for when the little guy grows.

Most of the time that I see people with hermit crabs, they only have one little solitary dude sitting there in the corner of a cage. I mean, it’s a crab, which is a step above a bug as far as I’m concerned, but these are technically social creatures. A single crab is something akin to keeping a single ant. They like having buddies around. You might want to pick up two hermit crabs, is what I’m saying.

Your pet store may do the ol’ guilt trip on you about this. They’ll have this super low package deal for a single hermit crab, a tank, a can of food, and all the other necessaries for the crab, and then the cashier will look you sternly in the eye as you go to checkout and say, “We really suggest to our customers that they have a minimum of two hermit crabs in a tank.” Just something to be aware of if you’re really considering getting one of these little guys.

Setup cost – roughly $80

If you don’t have a package deal available in your area (which is rare), you’re going to have to buy:

  • A water dish (about $6)
  • A feed container (again, $6)
  • A cage (around $20+)
  • Sand (realistically, at least $16)
  • Extra shells (around $10)
  • Stuff for the crab to hide in (I normally see people using coconuts, which cost around $10)
  • A way to keep the humidity at 70-90% (you probably want a little hygrometer in there too). It would be about $15 for all of this.
  • A way to keep the temperature between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. (A warm room will work.)

Feed costs – $7-$10/month

Amazon has a surprising absence of hermit crab food at the moment (It’s all out of stock. I suspect the hermit crab food factory burned down.), so you’re going to have to buy your crab’s food at an actual pet store instead. Petco has hermit crab food for about $7/can, and this should last you about a month, so feeding a crab isn’t like feeding a Great Dane.

Provided your little critter has constant access to a bowl of this stuff, he’ll be as happy as a clam.

As well, hermit crabs can eat food-food. According to

You can include vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, and fresh fruit in their daily diet since hermit crabs are omnivores, so this often allows you to easily feed your hermit crab food straight from your refrigerator.

They’re tiny little fellas, so you can supplement with tiny scraps.

Maintenance costs

Hermit crabs only grow so big, so you don’t have to worry about constantly buying bigger and bigger shells until you have this thing the size of a basketball living on your dresser. You may occasionally have to buy more sand if it starts to get nasty and smell, but really, the maintenance costs on a hermit crab are pretty minimal.

Crunching the numbers

To get set up to bring a hermit crab into your home, you’re looking at spending something like $120. If you already have all the gear you need, you can likely get squared away with $20-$50.

Hopefully, this helps to give you the information you need as you grapple with this decision. Bringing a pet into a home is an added responsibility, and you want to make sure that you are considering the life of your animal and taking care of it appropriately.

But what do you think about all this? Are you a hermit crab pro with extra tips and suggestions? Do you know of other needs that I didn’t include here?

Let your fellow readers know in the comment section below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to and Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Hermit Crab?
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

About the Author Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to,,,,, and Along with being a freelance writer he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American at Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

7 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Hermit Crab?”

  1. This topic was rather a surprise to me, considering we had a couple of hermit crabs for a few years and never spent that much. One way we saved money was in the tank we purchased. A lid was available for purchase separately and almost doubled the cost of the tank. So we bought some plank flooring at the Habitat for Humanity Restore and cut it to size and used that as a lid instead. It held in the humidity well, although we didn’t have a sensor to measure it. The food we had lasted much longer than a month for one container, especially supplementing with produce. We originally had only one hermit crab. Then much later we got a second one. I do not recommend that approach. Get two at the same time if you are going to get multiples. That said, my son got bored very quickly with ours and I do not recommend getting hermit crabs unless you really like them. My son just wanted one because his friend had one.

  2. Interesting topic for sure and one I never really thought to research. I’m sure there are a couple ways you could bring the cost down a little – for example using normal sand (sterilized of course) and making your own coconut shell. A coconut doesn’t have to be expensive and you can cut it with a hack saw or wood saw.

    By the way, I love cats, but yeah, too much attitude. They really do need a lot of attention.

    Another commonly purchased “cheap pet” would be a betta fish. Wonderful little critters but the costs can mount up if you feel like you need to buy all the things. I could probably write an article on that myself!

    1. I thought the hermit crabs looked really interesting and was thinking about getting two. But I’ve been reading about them at different sites and decided not to pursue it. It is recommended that you have a ten gallon glass aquarium each, so twenty gallons for two. You need six to eight inches of substrata: play sand mixed with ten percent earth. They need to have room to bury themselves to sleep or to molt. The enclosure needs to seal to keep the moisture in, though many put saran wrap over the top, with breathing holes. The air inside needs to have 75% humidity. You spray them with dechorinated water every day. You need a heating pad fastened to the side of the aquarium. You need one water dish with dechlorinated water and one larger one with salt water made with a special preparation deep enough for them to swim in, with rocks and sticks arranged so they can climb out. And sticks to climb on. The food pellets were said at several sites to have toxins which would eventually kill them. So you need to give them variety: meat, fish, fruit, veggies. They will get very big if well cared for, and will need bigger shells and bigger everything. They could conceivably live to be thirty years old.

      I got very interested and would like to see them swimming and climbing, but am afraid it sounds like too much trouble.

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