A couple of months ago, my older son turned 8. We have been dogless for about 18 months, and he was really missing the whole pet realm. While we weren’t really ready to dive back into canine-world (give me some time – I just finished landscaping the back yard), we did decide that he was old enough to have his own pet. And thus began our journey into hermit crab-world.
We started by purchasing the Hermit Crab Cove by Uncle Milton. It was perfect. The kit comes with everything you need to get started with your hermit crabs, including a detailed handbook that tells you pretty much anything you ever wanted to know about raising hermit crabs, and it does it in an easy-to-understand way, perfect for young pet owners. There is even an order form to purchase your hermit crabs through the mail. (Note: the company will only ship your pet(s) if the climate it mild enough, so keep that in mind. Their prices are VERY reasonable, but being in Texas, we went to our local pet store for our hermit crabs and spent the extra money as the mail order ones probably wouldn’t ship until November!).
Since that first day, my son has shown that taking care of a pet (or two in this case) is something he is VERY capable of doing, and doing well. He feeds them every day, checks their water, cleans their cove at least once a week, and he takes them out for exercise every few days. Blue (in the blue shell) and Goldie (in the black and gold shell) both have quite distinctive personalities. Goldie is definitely the more active and sociable one, while Blue is the strategist, always trying to crawl out of wherever he is. Blue is also sometimes called Brownie when he switches shells for the brown shell, which he does about once a week.
Hermit crabs are an excellent choice for a beginning pet for a young child. They are simple to care for, interesting to watch, and do not take up much room. There are some simple rules to abide by when caring for them to avoid hurting them or getting a surprise little pinch from them, but they are quite social and can encourage children to take pride in pet ownership. Both of my boys (ages 8 and 3) are eager to care for Blue and Goldie, and they both are capable of feeding, watering and caring for the crabs.
While my boys are still interested in having a dog someday, they are quite content with the hermit crabs they have now. I know we will most likely be dog-owners again in the future, but for now, a hermit crab is the perfect choice for my boys.