Video – Hermit Crab Race

Hermit crabs might not sound like very exciting animals. They aren’t exactly known for their racing abilities. You probably know them more for their ability to use (nearly) anything as a shell. And hide in it.

But it turns out hermit crabs can be pretty competitive racers.

Confirm this fact for yourself, by hosting your very own hermit crab race in Xcalak, Mexico. You can do it without a lot of effort and without harming any hermit crabs (of course).

The basics:

  • What you need to host a hermit crab race (it’s not much)
  • Selecting competitors (and preventing pre-race escape)
  • Making the racetrack (be sure to show the finish line clearly)
  • Managing the race (choose from 2 types of races)

If you’re a visual type of person, this video is for you. It’s not exactly a “how-to” video, but you can pretty much figure out how to set up a race just by watching (and enjoying) it.

This is an amateur race (could you tell?), but hermit crab racing is actually a very real “thing”. Just ask the National Hermit Crab Racing Association. This is a serious sport with participants who train and compete fiercely.

Note: XcalakMexico does not advocate betting on hermit crab races. This is for fun y’all.

Video summary

Hosting a hermit crab race is easy, and you don’t need much to get started.

What you need

  • rake (to make your race track)
  • rope (to denote your finish line)
  • bucket (to hold your competitors)
  • competitors (to hold your hermit crab race)

Selecting competitors

In Xcalak, this is really easy because hermit crabs are everywhere. They like to hang out in groups, so if you find one you’ve likely found many. Hangouts include the shade under trees and in tree branches (yes, hermit crabs can climb trees).

Before selecting, watch your candidates for a minute or two. Sometimes you can see what kind of a personality they have, and whether they’ll make spirited racers or disinterested observers.

A hand holding the shell of a hermit crab, and he's definitely ready to race
This feisty little guy is raring to go.


  • Choose at least 3 competitors for an interesting race
  • Find competitors that have different shells (at least different color shells) so you can tell them apart
  • If you can’t detach your chosen one from his/her perch, don’t pry – racing is a personal choice and some crabs just don’t want to have fun

Put your competitors together in a bucket, preferably with smooth sides to prevent pre-race escape.

Three different shells on three difference hermit crabs
Each shell is different, just like each hermit crab is different. But they can all compete!

Note: We’ve discovered hermit crabs love to eat coffee grounds. Whether this constitutes a performance enhancing substance we’re not sure. Something to consider.

A hermit crab chowing down on coffee grounds
Some might say it’s a performance enhancing substance, but until it’s officially banned we’ll keep our competitors munching coffee grounds simply because they seem to like it.

Making the racetrack

Grab your rake, your rope, a flat spot on the beach, and get to it. The track is circular, and the hermit crab race starts from the middle to the outside.

  • make a circle on the sand – this is where your competitors will start
  • use the rake to make more circles around the one you just made, making the track as large as you want
  • when you’re finished the track, use the rope around the outside to delineate the finish line – that way you can easily tell which crab is the winner
A rake on the sand, making a circular hermit crab racetrack
That sand isn’t going to rake itself.
Dogs sitting beside the finished hermit crab racetrack
The finished track with the inner starting point and the outer finish line.

Time to race!

Now comes the exciting part. There are 2 types of races you can host with your hermit crabs:

Head-to-head – in this race, the first crab to cross the finish line is the winner

Time trial – the crab with the shortest time between the starting line and the finish line is the winner

Note: the video shows the difference between these 2 types of races

Now, for the race:

  1. Start the race by dumping your competitors into the center of your racetrack
  2. Watch the excitement unfold!

That’s all there is to it. Seriously. It’s that easy.

Hermit crabs on the racetrack.
The exciting race! Who will will it all?

And now you not only know that hermit crabs are great racers, you know how to host a race too. Once you’ve tried it, you might find yourself addicted to the thrill of a hermit crab race.

Feel free to race some more, but keep in mind that hermit crabs are social creatures (not hermit-like at all, really) and don’t like to be apart from their colony.

A crowded hermit crab colony
Hermit crabs aren’t really big on “personal space” apparently.

We advocate for humane racing conditions, not hermit crab race sweatshops.

What else is there to do on the beach in Xcalak? Well, lucky you – we’ve got the Ultimate List of Things to Do in Xcalak