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Can I Take a Hermit Crab on a Plane?

| Updated September 26, 2017

Hermit crabs are easy to care for and are easily portable. While you could afford to leave one at home during a short vacation, if you are relocating or taking a long-term trip via airplane, you might wish to take your hermit crab with you. It's tricky, but under some circumstances, it's possible to travel with your pet as a carry-on item.

Ask the Airline

The Federal Aviation Administration leaves it up to the individual airline company to decide whether or not it permits pets in the cabin. Most airlines only permit cats and dogs as carry-on companions; others do not specify whether or not other small pets are allowed. A handful of airlines allow hermit crabs as carry-ons, but you should ask in advance to make sure policies permit it. Policies change over time, so always inquire before booking your ticket. The airline may choose to impose a pet fee. Follow the airline's directions about what kind of container you need; at minimum, the container needs to be escape-proof and small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

Domestic Only

Don't plan on being able to take your hermit crab with you if you're traveling outside the continental United States. Due in part to differing regulations about importing live animals, hermit crabs are not allowed on international flights. Hermit crabs also are illegal to bring into Hawaii because of that state's delicate ecosystem.


Do not try to transport your hermit crab as checked luggage. Checked bags are kept in a non-pressurized and unheated compartment, which puts a hermit crab's life at risk. A better alternative is shipping your crab to its destination via U.S. Post Office or UPS, both of which permit shipping of live animals. Carefully follow the specifications for containers and do not ship during the hottest months of summer.