Hermit Crab Species

Although there are hundreds of hermit crab species in the world, only six species of hermit crabs are common kept as pets in North America.

The Purple Pincher Hermit Crab

The Purple Pincher or Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) is the most commonly sold species of hermit crab in North America.

You can find the Purple Pincher (PP) Hermit Crab in beautiful red, brown, and purple color variations.

They have round eyes and a large left claw that is usually purple (thus the name the Purple Pincher Hermit Crab).

The Purple Pincher Hermit Crab is found throughout the Caribbean,s the Florida Keys, the Virgin Islands, Venezuela, and the West Indies.

The Ecuadorian Hermit Crab

Ecuadorian Hermit Crabs or E-crabs (Coenobita compressus) are the second most commonly sold hermit crab species in North America.

E-Crabs come in shades of tan, gray, yellow, and orange.  From time to time, their walking legs will be a darker shade than the rest of their body.

They have characteristic striping on the sides of their heads, teardrop-shaped eyes, a large left claw, and a wide, flat body.

They are much more active than Purple Pincher Hermit Crabs and run a lot faster than them.

Ecuadorians live throughout the Pacific coast from Baja California south to Argentina.

Other Popular Hermit Crab Species

The other four types of hermit crabs species are less common, but are growing in popularity:

  • The Indonesian Purple Hermit Crab (Coenobita brevimanus) is largest than these other hermit crab species and usually comes in a attractive  lilac purple or brown color.  The Indonesian Purple Hermit Crab is considered the most mellow of all the hermit crabs.  This hermit crab is native to the Pacific rim.
  • Coenobita Cavipes doesn’t have a common name and usually just goes by the name “cavipes.” This shy hermit crab has red antennae and a black, bluish, or red body.  It is native to Indonesia, the east coast of Africa and areas of the West Pacific.
  • Coenobita Rugosus do not have a common name either, but go by the name “rugs” or ruggies.”  Ruggies are known as the “crying” hermit crab because of the noises that it makes when it gets upset.  These hermit crabs come in all sorts of different colors including brown, peach, white, blue, beige and even bright red.  It is native to the West Pacific and areas of Indonesia.
  • The Strawberry or Red Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus) is a bright red-orange with white bumps all over the legs and claws, which makes it look like a strawberry (hence the name).  The color of this hermit crab varies depending on the diet of the hermit crab.  This hermit crab is not recommended for new hermit crab owners.  They are native to areas including the Red Sea and the West Pacific.

Buying A Specific Hermit Crab Species

Unfortunately, if you go to a pet store and ask for a specific hermit crab species, you may have some difficulty.

Most people that work at pet stores, while they will do their best to help you, probably won’t be hermit crab experts and won’t be able to tell you which hermit crab species they sell.

But don’t worry all these hermit crabs make great pets.  And you can take care of all these hermit crab species the same way (with a few minor exceptions) with ease, so just pick out the one that you like most from the tank.

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