Emotional TikTok reveals the sad truth behind the hermit crab industry: ‘This should be illegal’

·4-min read

A viral TikTok is currently opening people’s eyes to why they should adopt a hermit crab in need, rather than purchasing one from a pet shop or beach store.

The heartbreaking video was uploaded by TikTok user @mytammylife, whose bio describes her as “an animal lover & helper of all things.” A quick scroll through her page shows that the TikTok creator regularly features wildlife rescue stories on her account and tries to educate her followers about aspects of the pet industry that aren’t common knowledge.

In her latest viral video, she aims to expose the disturbing treatment of hermit crabs in pet shops across the world.

“This poor crab is another victim of the inhumane hermit crab industry,” the video text reads, as a hand gently reaches into a box to remove the tiny crab. “In stores, they are kept at room temperature with no humidity. They are gill breathers so they slowly suffocate.”

Pet stores also tend to separate the naturally social creatures, leaving them in isolated conditions with little to no activities. But in the video, @mytammylife shows how she cares for rescued hermit crabs who’ve been forced into terrible living conditions.

Instead of being placed in a cage by himself, her rescue crab has been introduced to a closed glass case with two other “friends.” The container is roomy enough for him to move around but also heated to just the right temperature (80 degrees F, with 80% humidity) to ensure that the tropical creature is comfortable. He also has a saltwater and freshwater pool to lounge in, a wheel to get exercise, substrate to dig and molt in and fresh food to nibble on when he’s hungry.

“When they are taken from the wild, their shell is crushed and they are forcibly removed, and they are crammed into these toxic painted shells,” the video text explains. So, in order to give him a new shell to make his home, @mytammylife places a larger shell in the tank with him, which he begins to investigate during the video.

“He will spend a while testing it out to see if it’s a good fit and cleaning out all of the sand inside,” the video continues, until we finally see the crab inside his new shell looking happy and healthy.

“He loves his new pants and he’s enjoying his first fresh strawberry!” the video text concludes.

“Hermit crabs in the wild walk up to 1 mile each night, they are very social, and they can live 30 to 40 years in captivity,” the post caption reads. “Please don’t purchase from a store. Please adopt! There are so many that need a good home.”

In the comments, people were appalled to learn about the treatment of hermit crabs. Many said they had no idea this was going on, while others said it should be illegal.

“This broke my heart into 1000 pieces,” one person wrote. “I had 2 growing up. One lived for 4 years and I thought I did everything right.”

“Thank you for speaking up about this,” added someone else. “Every creature should be treated with respect & compassion.”

Others continued to praise the TikToker, telling her she has a “heart of gold” and that her hermit crab is so lucky to have found her. Others said her video has inspired them to adopt hermit crabs of their own.

“you’ve taught me so much in this one clip,” one commenter shared. “What a little cutie. Thank you for saving his soul and saving his life.”

For those who want to help, PETA has a very informative article on the dos and don’ts of owning hermit crabs. But the number one tip is clear: “Never, ever buy a hermit crab.”

“They are not ‘starter pets’ or trinkets,” the organization warns. “Crabs are complex, sensitive animals who want to live in the wild, not in a cage. Even the most well-meaning person who purchases crabs will never be able to give them the life that they deserve.”

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