For new and inexperienced hermit crab owners, the sound of their pet making a chirping sound similar to that made by birds can be surprising. In fact, many new owners will not instantly realize that the faint chirping sound they are hearing is actually coming from their hermit crab.
There are times though when this chirping sound becomes more like a squawking, and it can be quite loud. In this case, there is obviously no mistaking where that sound is coming from. So, why do hermit crabs chirp?
What Does Crab Chirping Mean?
Most hermit crab owners believe that chirping is a sound their crabs make when they are stressed or agitated. How loud this chirping is will typically determine how stressed the crab is.
If you have more than one hermit crab in your tank, you might notice that one will make noise when another is bothering it. Hermit crabs often crawl over each other, and sometimes they will get into a dispute over a specific shell.
If a hermit crab is frightened, it might make a louder noise before scurrying inside its shell. This can often occur when they are first brought to their new homes and are trying to get accustomed to their surroundings.
How do Hermit Crabs Make Noise?
You might be interested to know how hermit crabs actually make sounds. Unlike other animals such as cats and dogs that make noise through their tracheas, hermit crabs make sound by rubbing certain parts of their body together. This is known as stridulation and is also how crickets make their familiar chirruping sound.
While crickets rub their wings together to make sound, hermit crabs rub different parts of their body, such as their legs, together inside their shells. The sound of their body parts rubbing against the shell is that which makes the chirping sound and is why it sometimes comes across as muffled.
Should You Be Worried About Chirping Hermit Crabs?
A chirping hermit crab is nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, if your crab is making this sound when you approach, it is best to leave it be for a while. It may be getting ready to molt and might therefore see you as a threat.
If your crab is new, it could be stressed out due to its recent capture and subsequent move to your home. It is important to allow the crab to get used to its new surroundings and try not to disturb it too much. Let it get used to the new tank without handling it and make sure it has access to food and water. You should also ensure that temperature and humidity levels are correct. You can monitor these by investing in a good quality thermometer and humidity gauge purchased online or from a local pet store. Amazon sells a great selection here if you’re interested (opens in a new tab).
Humidity levels should range between 70 and 80 percent while the tank temperature should be anywhere between 72F and 82F, with a cool and warm end to allow your crab to move to and from as it gets too hot or cold.
- Featured Image (Dardanus calidus): H. Zell – CC BY 3.0
- A Hermit Crab Emerging From Shell: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – public domain
- Pagurus bernhardus Outside Shell: Arnstein Rønning – CC BY 3.0
- Four Hermit Crabs: Drcbc – CC BY 3.0
- Hermit Crabs Fighting Over a Shell: Brocken Inaglory – CC BY 3.0
- Hermit Crab Retracted Into a Shell: Jerry Kirkhart – CC BY 2.0