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Do Hermit Crabs Eat Each Other?

Keeping hermit crabs as pets was extremely rate even a decade ago but over the last couple of years, the number of people keeping their own pet hermit crab has skyrocketed.

This coupled with the fact that there has also been an increase in the number of people reaching out and asking general questions about keeping hermit crabs really has skyrocketed the question that we see from the community.

Over the last two to three months, there has been a number of people asking if hermit crabs eat each other or not so we have decided to publish our own dedicated article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand the cannibalistic nature of some types of hermit crabs and help you better understand why some species of hermit crab may eat each other and why other species of hermit crab tend not to be cannibalistic.

Due to seeing so many people reaching out with similar questions about the cannibalistic properties of hermit crabs and why they will sometimes eat each other, we have decided to add our table of contents below to make it as simple as possible to navigate the article.

By answering the various questions that we commonly see asked by the community, we hope that we will be able to help answer all the questions that you may have in one single place.

Do Hermit Crabs Eat Each Other?

Some species of hermit crabs will actively try to eat each other where as other species of hermit crab will only eat each other if the other hermit crab is already dead.

With crabs being omnivorous scavengers, they will often eat anything that they are able to find irrelevant of introducing a potential cannibalism aspect in their diet.

In addition to this, some hermit crab species can be territorial and end up fighting other hermit crabs in their immediate area with some fights often being to the death with the victor eating the other hermit crab.

This can still occur with some species of hermit crab in captivity too with the crabs often attacking each other if they are kept in the same enclosure, especially if the enclosure is too small for them.

This is why we always recommend that you do plenty of research into the specific species of hermit crab that you plan to keep as a pet.

Sometimes you will be able to keep a number of hermit crab species in the same tank without issue but other times, fighting will quickly break out between the crabs.

People often are not aware that there are actually around eight hundred species of hermit crab too and the personalities of the various species really can vary widely.

Will Hermit Crabs Attack Each Other?

It is very common for terrestrial hermit crab species to attack each other and fight over territory with fights often being to the death and the loser being eaten by the victor.

Aquatic hermit crab species may still fight but it is often nowhere near as bad as the fights between terrestrial hermit crab species.

A number of people presume that this will stop if they provide plenty of food for their crabs but this is not the case.

The majority of the territorial hermit crab species fight so aggressively over territory and breeding rights rather than food resources so even if you provide plenty of food for your pet hermit crab, terrestrial species will still often fight with the fights often being to the death.

Although rare, there are some terrestrial and aquatic hermit crab species who will fight over shells and if the hermit crab with the shell that the other hermit crab wants does not leave the shell, this can result in a fight to the death too.

These types of fights may result in the victor eating the loser of the fight but it is rarer as the main goal of the fight was for the shell rather than territory, food or breeding rights.

Is It Normal For Hermit Crabs To Eat Each Other?

Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers and they will eat the majority of edible foods that they find while out scavenging including other hermit crabs. This is totally normal for hermit crabs and is a very common occurrence with some species of wild hermit crabs.

This can be due to a hermit crab being out scavenging and finding another hermit crab that is already dead or due to a fight between two hermit crabs resulting in one of the other crabs being dead.

No matter the cause, there are plenty of hermit crab species out there that will eat each other without issue due to it being a crab eat crab world in the wild with the hermit crab not knowing where its next meal is coming from.

Crab meat is actually very nutritious too and can be a better source of nutrition for a hermit crab than some of the other natural food sources that it has available to it in some areas.

Depending on the specific situation, calcium cravings can be high in some species of hermit crab and encourage them to kill and eat younger hermit crabs to eat their shells to get the cautious required to encourage healthy growth in their own shell too.


That brings our article going over if hermit crabs eat each other or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand that many hermit crab species will happily eat each other with some of the species actively fighting other hermit crabs to eat them. If you are looking to keep multiple hermit crabs as pets in the same tank then you really should do plenty of research to ensure that they are peaceful and will live together without issue but many people will keep their pet hermit crabs in tanks without any other tank mates to prevent these issues.