Can Hermit Crabs Swim?

water crab

Most people think that all crab varieties can swim as many people assume that from seeing the sea or ocean variety.

Hermit crabs do not swim. This may seem rather odd to you to find this out, however, hermit crabs are not part of the “swimming crab” family network. There are many crab varieties that do in fact swim, but hermit crabs are not one of them. They are more likely found in sand or molting underground.

In fact, you’ll probably be amazed to know that your new little pet hermit crab can actually drown if immersed in waters that are too deep, whether that be of the saltwater or freshwater variety.

This means gently reminding your younger members that although his or her new pet hermit looks cute and they may think he would like a swim, he definetly wouldn’t. 

It is important for you to understand all the facts about your new little family pet as these types of pets also can easily have a very short life-span if the correct routines are not put in place for their survival.

We like to think that the hermit crabs have a rather fragile existence. If some of their needs are not provided correctly, they will unfortunately pass away and this causes deep upsets to the younger members of the family who have come to love their new little pet.

  1. Hermit crabs cannot swim
  2. They do require saltwater to cleanse in
  3. They also require fresh water to drink

Hermit Crabs Need Freshwater And Saltwater

  • Hermit crabs are land crabs
  • These little critters require freshwater to drink
  • You must provide saltwater for bathing

Hermit crabs are land animals but in order to survive on a daily basis, they must be in reach with drinking water and saltwater.  The drinking water is to drink to keep hydrated and also to store which is where they drink more than needed and the excess water gets stored in the very back of their shell.

Your hermit crab will molt

  • Freshwater is provided for hydration
  • Hermit crabs will molt
  • The freshwater is vital for survival

They need to do this because when they molt they are sometimes underground, or under the sand for very long periods of time. This can be upwards of eight weeks that the hermit crab does not surface and therefore the freshwater they take in before burrowing under the sand is vital to their survival.

Hermit Crabs Love To Wade In Their Provided Waters

  • Hermit crabs can wade in saltwater
  • They only require shallow waters 
  • Your hermit crab can drown

This is where things get really interesting in regards to ‘can the hermit crab swim’?. We have answered your question as a ‘no’, however, they can wade in waters or walk across shallow waters and immerse themselves within the saltwater if need be too.

How your hermit crab can injure himself and why saltwater is important

  • Saltwater is useful for wound cleansing
  • Hermit crabs legs and claws get caught
  • Maintain saltwater daily

Hermit crabs can in fact wound themselves, unintentionally. This happens when they may get their claw or leg caught on driftwood, rocks, transferring in and out of shells, wood chips that they crawl across and of course, other crabs they come into contact with whom may fight with one another.

This causes scrappings, marks on their claws and legs, cuts and even sometimes broken legs and claws! If you see your little hermit crab with a broken leg or missing claw, please do not worry.

If you are keeping up with maintaining fresh and salt waters to their enclosure daily then this suffices to keep your hermit crab from passing away as he or she will instinctively immerse themselves in the saltwater to bathe their wound and if you are using sand directly from the beach, this also attains a lot of salt within it as the tides bring that in as the beach gets covered in saltwater daily.

Keeping cool! 

  • Your hermit crab needs to stay cool
  • Hermit crabs require water to maintain body temperature
  • Do Not make the water too deep

Another useful thing the saltwater is used for is for the hermit crab to cool off.  They require saltwater to dip into to keep their body temperature at the regular temperature that is required.

This is where you will find them doing the wading through the water and although you may assume they can swim, they can in fact actually drown if you provide too much water that has a big depth to it.

Where To Purchase Bathing Bowls For Your Hermit Crab

  • Bathing bowls are available at pet stores
  • Hermit bowls are designed with correct depth
  • Tiny steps into the bowl are built in

This is why purchasing the proper bathing bowls that are offered at the local pet stores is vital also. They are thoughtully designed with the accurate depth needed as well as built in is some very tiny steps so the hermit crabs can grip and make their way to and from the saltwater bowls when needed.

No, They Do Not Prefer Saltwater Directly From The Ocean

  • Hermit crabs do not like saltwater from the ocean
  • Pet-store saltwater is preffered
  • Stores well in a cool, dark place

Another facsinating fact that you may find surprising is that your pet  hermit crab cannot be given salt water directly from the ocean. This surprising knowledge we found out is due to the hermit crabs being use to the shop provided salt water that you will make up for them.

Before they have become a part of your family they have spent a considerable amount of time in-store and being provided with the shop salt water and this is recommended to be continued.

This saltwater usually comes with instructions of how to make it up and you can make up to three litres at a time and if stored in a cool, dry place it will last you for a good six months.

Does Your Hermit Crab Need Two Types Of Water

  • You do need both types of water
  • Hermit crabs can’t survive without both
  • Easy to make up the waters

This is a really good question and one most struggle to understand as they assume that one bowl in the enclosure should be enough for the one tiny hermit crab.

However, it isn’t. As we spoke of above, your hermit crabs survival depends on you, it’s new owner, supplying him or her with both types of water.

The fresh water for drinking and keeping him or her hydrated, which is made up of a consistency of water from your tap that has a few drops of water distilling added to it to neutralize the PH balance for him or her to be able to tolerate drinking it.

The saltwater is made up similar, with the water first being distilled and then the required amount of sea salt, purchased from your local pet store, is added in according to how many litres you are in fact wishing to make up in one go.

People generally will make up to one litre at a time, some others to be time-savvy in their busy lives, makes up to three litres at a time. This lasts for months and months and keeps very well in a stored, dark place as we spoke of above.

You cannot just provide your hermit crab with one type of water. He or she won’t bathe in the freshwater as it does not contain the salt factor that they need from time to time and you also cannot only provide the saltwater as they would die from dehydration as they are unable to drink this type of water.

Your little hermit crab is an intelligent creature and you don’t have to fret that they will get this wrong and drink from the wrong one, as they can smell the salt so much more profoundly than we can with their highly sensitive antennas that are situated above their cute, little match-box tip eyes!

As long as you are providing these waters to them, fresh, every day, you are doing exactly what the hermit crabs love and you will have a very happy crab who has all his or her needs met.


Hello, my name is Mackenzie and I have created this website out of my love for all the world's beautiful creatures - great and small. I hope you find this website useful as I take you through various topics about a variety of some of our most loved animals and ways in which you can gain some knowledge on how to care for them properly.

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