Dogs have the tick, dogs and cats have fleas, and hermit crabs are susceptible to their own type of parasite called the mite. Mites are very small, almost microscopic in size compared to the host, or hermit crab, and can do a lot of damage to the health of your crab if left untreated including premature death. This is not something you want to have to explain to your little son or daughter.
Even though many times smaller in size than the crabs themselves, the mites are tan and black, looking like little grains of sand, and are visible to the human eye. Unlike the infection of other parasites, which seems to just be plain bad luck, proper prevention and care of your crabs is much easier than dealing with them when they infect your crabs, and will greatly assist in preventing these crabs getting infected with mites.
Adherence to the following 5 steps will prevent or help cure hermit crab mites once an infection begins:
* Although it seems tempting, do not purchase or use commercial mite spray. This will unfortunately kill both the mites as well as your crab.
* If mites are spotted in the tank, every piece of equipment will need to be properly treated to ensure the infestation is gone. This involves taking all the food and water bowls, driftwood, stones, artificial plants, and empty shells and boiling them for a minimum of 10 minutes before drying these items and returning them to the cage.
* Once all the substrate has been removed and all accessory items has been properly sterilized, it is important to properly and thoroughly clean the cage to ensure no trace of mites. You can clean the cage by taking a wet cloth or paper towel and wiping the sides and bottom of the tank. Be sure to apply much pressure as you clean to kill all the mites, including those hiding in the four corners of the tank.
* Remove and replace all the substrate in the cage to ensure there is no trace of mites. You will want to replace either the coconut shaved substrate or sand. If replacing the sand substrate is not an option, rinse it with water and bake it at a high heat for 10 minutes and let it cool before returning it to the cage.
* Bathe your hermit crabs immediately if you sense an infection with mites. Be sure to dip them in and out of the treated water a few times to remove all the hermit crab mites out of their shell. You can see the mites float to the top of the water, which you’ll want to discard so the mites don’t return in your crab’s shell.
Mites are an unfortunate part of owning hermit crabs, but can be prevented by changing their food regularly, cleaning the tank with some frequency, and giving your crabs a bath twice per month. If you do have to deal with hermit crab mites, following the steps above will help you treat the issue and prevent it for the future.