How to Safely Dye Hermit Crab Shells

Written by Shadoe Haffner, AKA GodzillaHermitCrab on deviantart, AKA wolfnipplechips on hermitcrabassociation

There are safe alternatives to painting your crabs’ shells. If you are not against using paint, varnishes, and decorations on your hermit crabs, please see my article, on Why to NEVER buy painted shells for your hermit crabs, and why to NEVER buy a hermit crab already in a painted shell.


  • berry, fruit, or veg with strong color
  • something to crush them with
  • uninhabited shells
  • plate
  • paper towel

Step 1: Obtain a berry or fruit/vegetable that yields very colorful juice. For my tutorial, I will be using edible blue honeysuckle. You can also use blueberries, raspberries, etc. Stick them into your crushing device. In my case, I am using a mortar and pestle.

Step 2: Crush them to a pulp!!

Step 3: Ready your shells. Try to use light colored ones, or ones that have not been polished. The color will stick better on light colors and more porous shells. I am using “mexican turbos” or “striped turbos”.

Step 4: Cover the shells in the pulp with openings up. Try not to get juice in the openings. The acidic fruit may start to mess up the mother of pearl lining. Let them sit for a few hours.

Step 5: Take them out and set them on a plate and paper towel to dry.

Step 6: Rinse, scrub, and dry. The color will be a little faded, but they will be dyed hopefully!

Good luck! :)