Hermit crab on sand (c) Nick Davies

Hermit crabs

The hermit crab is a favourite of rockpool enthusiasts. You can never tell if that old whelk or periwinkle shell is home to one of these crustaceans. A hermit crab appropriates shells to protect its soft twisted abdomen from predators. As the hermit crab grows, an overly snug shell is abandoned in favour of a larger abode.

One empty shell can trigger a property rush as crabs gather and simultaneously pass discarded shells down the housing chain to smaller individuals. There are more than 1,000 species of hermit crab. Despite the common name, they are more closely related to lobsters than true crabs. They are found in rockpools, throughout the shore and even in deep sea waters. Hermit crabs are widespread around the British coast.

Scientific name: Paguroidea

Rank: Superfamily

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The Hermit crabs can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Australia, Europe, Great Barrier Reef, Mediterranean, North America, South America, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Hermit crabs distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

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