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FAQs on Terrestrial/Freshwater Hermit Crabs Behavior

Related Articles: Terrestrial Hermit Crabs, Freshwater CrustaceansInvertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Terrestrial Hermit Crabs 1, Terrestrial Hermit Crabs 2, & FAQs on Terrestrial Hermits: Terr. Hermit ID, Terr. Hermit Compatibility, Terr. Hermit Selection, Terr. Hermit Systems, Terr. Hermit Feeding, Terr. Hermit Disease, Terr. Hermit Reproduction. & FAQs on Marine/SW: SW Hermit ID, SW Hermit Behavior, SW Hermit Compatibility, SW Hermit Selection, SW Hermit Systems, SW Hermit Feeding, SW Hermit Disease/HealthSW Hermit Reproduction, & FW Crustaceans 1FW Crustaceans 2


My hermit crab; growth, beh.       7/13/14
Hello, I'm not sure what type of hermit crab I have as he/she was rescued from starving to death from a disgusting pet store that thankfully closed down since but that's another story. I've grown really attached to this little guy because I've had him now for 9 years,

he is the most spoiled hermit crab ever, my question really relates to the fact that he eats well has his fresh and salt water has many shells to choose from, has molted many times and consumed his molted body BUT is not any bigger than when I got him 9 years ago! Why? Is this normal?
<Mmm, well, can be normal... some species of hermits get quite large, many stay small... and surprisingly can and do shrink in size at times. Yours is very long lived; you are to be congratulated for providing such good care. Bob Fenner>
Re: My hermit crab      7/18/14

Thank you! I won't worry about him :)
<Ah; good. BobF>

Land Hermit Crabs/Behavior 4/7/2011
<Hello Cindy>
I have a hermit crab that is moulting <molting> in its water dish. Should I remove him from the water or should he be left alone he is not compleatley <completely> out of his old shell yet.
<I'm going to guess you have a Land Hermit Crab, and if so, do leave it in the water as this helps them through the molting process.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Land Hermit Crabs/Behavior 4/7/2011- 4/10/2011

Hi James
<Hello Cindy>
Thank you very much for your quick reply as I am very new to this and want my crabs to survive.
<You're welcome.>
I have had some that have done this I think, and survived as I have found old shell in my crab tank and a crab that hasn't been active for a few days. Then been fine but none have done so in the water bowl. I am very sorry to say this crab didn't make it as it became very smelly and started to shrink, but I will at least know that I am doing the right thing by leaving it if it happens again. Thank you for taking the time to reply.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

The Offspring said, "You got to keep 'em separated!"  >My fiance and I went to Florida last Nov. and bought a red hermit crab.  >>Not knowing from where, I can only hope that you didn't go to Florida specifically for this purpose.  >We've had him for 5 months, and he's been alone since then. We bought his new friend about a week ago, and is smaller than he is. (Not by much though). Any how this morning we found Bailey's legs, and small pincher laying in the tank.  >>Hermit crabs, for the most part (of the aquatic persuasion), generally do NOT consider other hermits to be "friends". They consider them "real estate" and competition.  >She was out of her shell. My fianc? picked her back up, put her in a much larger shell, cause Buddy had stolen hers.  >>Uh oh. She'll be uncomfortable in an improperly sized shell. It's also very important that hermies get shells of the right species. These crabs need to be separated somehow, or these battles may likely continue until one (likely the newer addition) dies.  >Will she grow her legs, and small claw back?  >>She should, yes, within a few molts.  >I know that the hermit crabs molt, but I haven't seen one do it before. What signs do you look for?  >>Well, if this were a land hermit then there are definite signs to look for. Aquatic hermits, no, they'll just hide out and molt overnight, come out in a day or two.  >Could Buddy just not like the other crab?  >>Chances are if Buddy can, Buddy will kill the other hermit crab. Again, not knowing if we're talking aquatic or land hermits, this is hard to say with any real certainty. If you've got land hermits, then please Google (on our site as well as open search) "land hermit crab" and you should find many excellent sites. A few will even help you to identify your species. This is important for knowing how to feed AND water them properly, as well as provide proper housing. Land hermits require sand deep enough to bury in to molt.  >What Can I do?  >>What I said.  >Sincerely Rob & Becca  >>Good luck, keep them separated so the new one has a chance to recover, and find her appropriate digs. Marina

Hermit crab molting. I have two salt water hermit crabs from California, I think, I live in California. I have had them for about a year. I have a 55 gal salt water tank with 5 small fish, 1 lion fish, 1 small star fish, and a sea anemone. The hermit crabs have been in the tank the longest.  I bought a bunch of shells for them to move into as they crow, and one actually moved into the biggest shell, which seems HUGE for it's body size, the other has remained in it's original shell this whole time. The one that moved is the bigger one of the two, but they are both quite small. One day I saw them attached and I thought they were fighting, so I separated them, but after many times of this I thought I should let them do their thing, because what if they were trying to mate? Were they trying to mate? They were attached for about 8 hours once, and then I saw a bunch of pinchers left where they were once attached.  I looked at both hermit crabs carefully and saw that they were fine, all parts in place. So I came to the conclusion that one was helping the other molt. But just the pinchers? Weeks later I see a poor dead hermit crab out of it's shell (home). I take it out and throw it away. Then I realize both hermit crabs are still in their homes alive! I couldn't figure it out, so I decided that they had babies, and one died, or one lived and a parent died. The reason I did not think this was just the remains of a hermit crab that had molted is because white tissue was part of this dead thing, and it looked like a whole hermit crab, not just the outer casing of it. Weeks later more pinchers are found in a pile, and I conclude that the other hermit crab that did not molt before just molted. 2 weeks after this discovery I just found another poor dead hermit crab. This one I still have in a bowl of water because I want to know if it is just a molting, or if it's really a hermit crab dead. Once again it looks like a real hermit crab, it has white tissue, it's tentacles are there, along with it's eyes, it's mouth, everything seems to be there. How is this a molting? But how is it not is a better question. They can't reproduce hermit crabs that are adult looking can they? But I still have two hermit crabs in the tank alive. HELP? Thanks in advance Denae. ***Hello Denae, You're not sure you live in California, or you're not sure your crabs are from California? :) They are in all likelihood a tropical species, as the native California hermits do survive at reef temps, and are not collected for the trade. That aside, you have no worries. Crabs do not help each other molt, and what you were witnessing could have been either combat or a mating, I can't say for sure. In any case, crabs do not clone themselves and create adult sized offspring, so you have simply experienced a molting event. Or, your crabs have at any rate. The entire exoskeleton is shed, eyes, mouth parts, everything. It's easy to mistake for a dead crab. No worries, and you can feel free to dispose of that discarded exoskeleton. :) Jim***

Molting Crab 20 Aug 2004 I'm in a panic, so please answer ASAP. <I just got this a bit ago and let me try to help you, MacL here with you.> Two weeks ago to the day our hermit crab molted.  It is a fascinating process as you've described.  My panic is this: I'm not sure he (Capt. America) is alive. <Great Name!>  It does not appear that he has come out of his shell in two weeks for water or anything else..  I'm assuming he has eaten some of his exoskeleton since it looks as though he is hanging on to it. <Does it seem to be still attached in some way to him? Possibly an incomplete molt?>  I can visibly see him inside his old home.  I'm just not sure he is alive. <I think he's had an incomplete molt my friend.>  When I tried to "smell death", I don't know if I'm getting the exoskeleton smell, or his death smell.  I did a little tapping on his shell to see if I could get a response, but there was none.  I've sprayed water into his habitat for moisture, however I only did it today.  
<I think that's where your problem may lie.  Spraying of them and or the tank for humidity needs to be done pretty much daily.... helps them to breath easier - literally. Too many hobbyists are not informed of this and the crabs suffer slowly over time (evidenced by inactivity, incomplete molts, etc and I'm pretty sure that's what's happened here.>
I've been careful to keep his water sponge filled daily.  It appears that he is getting darker in color, but I'm not positive. His partner, Betsy Ross, died about 2 weeks before he molted.  Any thoughts on how I can find out if he is still with us?  <Keep spraying the tank every day and spray him some but don't drown him.  Take a look at these websites and see if they help you.   http://www.landhermitcrabs.com       http://www.hermit-crabs.com > I don't want to stress Captain America out anymore than he might already be. By the way, Captain America chose to molt on top of his sand.  Does that mean anything?  <Usually that he's trying to get the shell off of his body.  Keep the faith I think he will be okay if you can get him some more humidity.> Thanks a million for your help and I've learned so much by using your web site.  <Good luck Pat and please let me know what happens.  MacL> Pat Stone Re: molting crab right after iodine added hello again! <Hello Jimi, MacL here with you this fine evening.> Question also regarding my crab. I've had him for probably 2mo. now, he seems quite happy and has snuggled up to an anemone from which he rarely leaves. Since deciding to start a reef tank, I've been reading about all the additional chemicals I need to add to support it. I read about iodine and saw that I needed to add it for anything that molts. So, I added 1ml last week, and after I did a 20% water change last night, I added another 1ml to tank. I woke up this morning to find what I thought just the remains of my beautiful little crab. But, after lifting a few rocks, found him very much alive looking "fresh" in his new outfit. Question is: Did my crab molt because of the added iodine? <The iodine in proper dose will assist in the molt.> In other words, did it make him molt, or was he probably in need of molting anyway and the added iodine just helped him to do so? <I've read that its possible the iodine causes the shell to itch and they shed it but most people believe that they are ready to molt and then it helps them to do it successfully.>  And is it possibly for a crab to molt too much? How often do they do so? <Depends on the crab.> Like I said I read that iodine aided in molting -- but good grief, I didn't realize it would work so quickly..... and now, I'm kind of afraid to keep adding it on a regular basis even at the recommended dosage, because I also read that overdosing can be BAD. <Definitely get a test kit, you can overdose it.> Is there a test I can do for iodine, I thought I read that there wasn't - so how can I be sure there is enough, but not too much in my tank? <Salifert has a test kits and so does Seachem.  Please if you dose it get a test kit. Good luck, MacL> Aha!  Here It Is.... Land Hermit Molting Behaviour - 08/24/2004 I'm in a panic, so please answer ASAP. <Hi Pat, I am now in possession of the previous email.  Glad to hear we're talking about land hermits, here - with all due luck, this *may* be a positive outcome....> Two weeks ago to the day our hermit crab molted.  It is a fascinating process as you've described.    <It *is* fascinating, isn't it?  What always amazes me is the amount of time it takes, versus, say, an aquatic shrimp, who is done molting in minutes, and back to its old self in just a couple days.> My panic is this:  I'm not sure he (Capt. America) is alive.  It does not appear that he has come out of his shell in two weeks for water or anything else.    <A concern, indeed, but really, it can take a *long* time before they come out again.  I have a couple Ecuadorian hermits (Coenobita compressus) that are still underground, after about a month - but every few to several days, I can tell one has moved a bit (the fellah dug under right next to the glass - how convenient!).  This does tend to be a very long process.> I'm assuming he has eaten some of his exoskeleton since it looks as though he is hanging on to it.     <A good sign.> I can visibly see him inside his old home.  I'm just not sure he is alive.  When I tried to "smell death", I don't know if I'm getting the exoskeleton smell, or his death smell.    <You would notice a rather strong, very fishy/oceany smell.... it's very distinct.  If he's underground, it may not be strong at all, though.> I did a little tapping on his shell to see if I could get a response, but there was none.    <Apparently he's not underground.  If it makes you feel better, were I him, I certainly wouldn't respond to someone thinking on my shell if I were molting....  :) > I've sprayed water into his habitat for moisture, however I only did it today.    <Yipes - only once in how long?  How high is his humidity?  This is a very, very crucial point - if it's not humid enough, their gills will dry and harden, and they will literally suffocate.  Think of these as aquatic animals that just happen to live on land....> I've been careful to keep his water sponge filled daily.    <Good - I'm hoping this is enough to keep his humidity high?  Do you have a hygrometer?> It appears that he is getting darker in color, but I'm not positive. <Hopefully this, too, is a good sign....> His partner, Betsy Ross, died about 2 weeks before he molted.    <So sorry to hear that....  But perhaps this has at least made you aware of that strong fishy smell?> Any thoughts on how I can find out if he is still with us?  I don't want to stress Captain America out anymore than he might already be.    <If he's all alone in the tank (as he *should* be, for his safety, if he didn't go underground to molt!), I would go ahead and give him more time.  I'm pretty confidant you'll recognize a dead-crab smell if you smell it.  If you are completely and utterly uncertain as to his status, and really really need to know, pick him up (if he's alive, he will not fall out of the shell) and spritz him with water (he should react in some manner to this - probably by scooting farther into the shell).  If he is still absolutely unresponsive, place him in his fresh water dish.  If he does not respond after a minute, chances are pretty slim that he's alive, I'm afraid.  I would recommend against this, unless you absolutely need to know and cannot wait on him.  I am not convinced he's dead, yet, and would not do this, were it me in your shoes.> By the way, Captain America chose to molt on top of his sand.  Does that mean anything? <Possibly, yes.  Is the sand moist enough for him to dig into?  Or is it totally dry?  IF the sand is dry, hermits can't burrow and tunnel in it, and would be forced to molt above ground.  Otherwise, he may have been stressed, sick, or injured, and for some reason unable to dig.  Or perhaps he just likes the view - unfortunately, it can be very, very difficult to determine why they sometimes molt above ground.> Thanks a million for your help and I've learned so much by using your web site. <I do hope this has been of some use to you.  I would also strongly recommend checking out some land hermit forums -   http://www.landhermitcrabs.com/ and http://forums.hermitcrabassociation.com/ are a couple decent ones that I've found.> Pat Stone <Hoping for the best for you and Captain America,  -Sabrina> <Ahh, and a P.S.:  PLEASE respond and let me know if you've received this.  I am hoping there are no further complications!  -Sabrina>
Land Hermit Molting Behaviour - II - 08/24/2004
Oh, thank you so much for your reply.  The original message I sent to mike@wetwebmedia.com I'll resend to your address.   <Great.  I have received and responded, and hope that you have received the response....  Also, you can send to "crew@wetwebmedia.com" with questions - I'm not sure if the mike@ goes anywhere or not, as we have two or three mikes with us....> Thanks a million and please respond with any questions.  Since Captain America and Betsy Ross were my first hermits, I'm not sure what kind they were, but Captain had a purple/bluish claw.   <Actually sounds perhaps like an Indonesian crab - Coenobita brevimanus - but could be any of a number of others, as well.> I bought them at a shopping mall last November.  The worst thing that may have happened is my going on the internet to learn more about them and subsequently changing their sand and such.  I probably should have left them alone.   <I totally disagree - the *best* thing you can do for your animals is to learn about their needs and meet those needs.  I suspect above anything that the care (or lack thereof) that they received at the mall stand was so deleterious and neglectful that the animals could not survive, regardless of the care that you gave - I *strongly* urge against purchasing from shops such as these....  If you purchase an animal from a shop that you are confidant is neglectful, you are only *helping* that shop to continue hurting the animals in your care - purchasing from them keeps them in business.  No matter how sorry you might feel for an animal at such a place, just remember that buying it is dooming another.  That kind of a tradeoff is unacceptable, to me.  Please note that I am *NOT* in any way scolding you for having purchased Captain America and Betsy Ross there - I am *ONLY* hoping to guide your future purchases away from supporting such establishments.  It is better to find a pet store that cares diligently for their animals.  Moreover, perhaps you can even *help* a local pet store to gain a better understanding of how to care for hermits.> I really grew fond of these little guys.   <Easy to do....  I totally understand.  I am so sorry for your loss, and truly hope you see some improvement in el Capitan.> Actually, as I think about it, Captain probably has been still for almost 5 weeks....doesn't sound too good does it.   <Indeed, it does not.  At this point, with it having been *so* long, I think I would go ahead and pick him up and inspect him, spray him with water, and watch for any reaction.  If none, I'd place him in his freshwater dish and see if that brings about any response.  I am quite surprised that you haven't noticed a strong fishy odor, though - my fingers are still crossed, but I do fear it doesn't look good at this point.> Please just tell me the best way to find out if he is still alive without overly stressing him.   <Just as above.> Thank you again for your help. <I'm sorry I don't have a whole lot of good news for you - but I *do* most certainly hope that you will try to find a good store for hermits (to be honest, I've been pleasantly surprised about the Petco stores near me - pretty darn nice setups for their hermits!) and try this again.  Don't give up entirely on keeping these creatures - they are amazing and very fun animals.> Pat Stone <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Pinched the Pinching Land Hermit Hi, Bob My daughter cries And I feel so bad Please help. We asked our daughter to take out her pet the hermit crab so we could see it. She's ALL HAPPY TAKING HIM OUT, takes him out of the tank and he was not moving, so I put my long nail by his clamp, so YES he got my nail, I GOT SCARED and thru him off. Well sad to inform that I CUT OUT HIS CLAMP!!! O my god, it was A family DISASTER, and I feel so bad.  <I am sorry to hear of the fright/disturbance. I have had the displeasure as well. If it happens again and you have a little more presence of mind, simply sunk the little bugger in a bowl of water and it will let go. This is good to know if he pinches a child's finger and you don't want the injure the child by tearing off the gripping crab> MY QUESTION, is WILL HE LIVE?  <almost certainly> Will it grow back?  <yep... easily after a he molts/moths. Do feed well but don't overfeed> and should I go get another one? <may cause more harm than good... fighting> please REPLY soon. Alia PLEASE <best regards, Anthony>

New Hermit Crab Owners Hi, <Hi, Mike D here> I just got my daughter two hermit crabs (what kind I do not know).  This was three days ago.
One major question...are we talking land hermit crabs or marine hermits that live in seawater?>  
Since then she's moved them into a tank with all their supplies.  Today the larger one (about 2-2/12") lost a leg!!
<Fairly common. You might want to keep check that they aren't fighting, as they can get rather aggressive with each other>  
I saw some references to "molting", and it seems they naturally go through this shedding, but does it mean whole legs?
<Not just whole legs, but the whole animal. The back pops open right behind the legs and the whole animal crawls out, leg, claws, antenna and all and will need a larger shell to move into>  
This bigger one hangs out of its shell because it needs to move to a new one, and we've placed a couple larger ones in the tank already.  What happened?
<Probably just a family spat, but as I said, just keep an eye peeled that they aren't extremely hostile towards each other, which occasionally happens. Fighting over new shells is often the biggest reason for such spats> Hermit crab and other invert info 8/1/04 More info than a question in case anyone's interested. I have a hermit crab that like eating my closed brain coral, b*st*rd it is slowly disappearing so hermits are a problem in reefs.  <I am fairly sure that you will find that most of the crew that replies to marine and reef queries are not fans of crabs of any kind.  I generally advise against keeping any.  They are far too destructive for their benefit.> Also I had quite a numerous Aiptasia problem on live rock got a few with Kalkwasser but only the bigger ones now there is not one to be seen. There were less every day until now there are none yay! Must have been eaten by something,  <I would love to know what!  Peppermint shrimp are known predators as are Berghia nudibranchs (not what you describe below).  Other, less specialized predators (some starfish, some predatory snails other shrimps, etc.) are probably very risky to also eat corals.> in my tank I have damsels (lemon, sergeant major, blue/yellow and 2xblack with eye spot on tail) small wrasse similar to Christmas wrasse, two purple/orange/black nudibranchs, small brownish mottled starfish, cowry, pistol shrimp, four or so hermit crabs I think that's it. So one of them eats Aiptasia! Hope you find this of use.  <Out of the bunch, I would only suspect the starfish or cowry.  The nudibranchs are a very very tiny possibility, but most of them are very specialized feeders (sometimes down to the exact species of coral, sponge, etc. that they prey on!)  Thanks for sharing, and please update us if you hone in on your mystery helper!  AdamC> Vacation Crab Bonanza Hi,<Hi, MikeD here> I have a purple pincher hermit crab and my niece found some hermit crabs on the beach she wants me to have. I had mentioned to her that I wanted another one to keep my purple claw company. The thing is that she found these in the salt water. I don't want to break her heart, but I have no idea how to take care of these. I don't know anything about them. Do I keep them in the water all the time and if they are ok not to keep in the water then, are they ok to put in the same tank as my purple claw one<Unfortunately, no, these are marine vs. the apparently land species that you have>. I am still learning how to take care of the one I got. I need to know all the basics of taking care of the salt water ones<"all of the basics" is probably a lot more than you're prepared to deal with at the moment.>. There is like 30 of them that she's giving me<Yep, that's more than you're prepared to deal with!>. How do I take care of these...are they any different then the one I have?<In appearance, no, in requirements they might as well be Martian crabs> If I have to keep them in water the whole time, then are they ok with fresh water<NO!> or should I get the same water salt to put in the water? Do they need the calcium powder and how cold should the water be? Any information on the ones from the beach water is helpful.<My honest suggestion is to call your local pet shops that handle marine fish and see if they'll help you out. Although crabs are less demanding than fish, you'd still need an established marine aquarium that's been up and running for at least 6 weeks, and frankly, you just don't have the time, no matter how willing. The type crabs your niece has brought back are actually much sought after by intelligent salt water shop owners as they are likely larger than the type they can often purchase through normal channels.>> Hermit Crab Hitchhiker? Okay, I just bought another Hermit Crab and I went to observe it and I noticed a little flash of something on its back. Here's where it gets difficult it looks like a volcano with a feather duster coming out but the duster part pops out, and goes back in. This happens in a split second can feather dusters be on a crab's back? or is it some kind of barnacle? Your help please, Jeffery P.S. may it be some kind of barnacle <Well, Jeffrey- it certainly may be some sort of barnacle or other encrusted creature. These do occur on many types of animal's shells. Probably nothing to worry about; just another example of the amazing diversity of life in our systems! Without a photo, though, my guess is as good as yours, so you might want to do a little searching on the 'net to see what it could be. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Marine Hermits My name is Stephanie and I am trying to no avail to find some information an salt water  crabs for a report that my daughter is doing about  salt water hermits. All I can seem to find is land hermits. If possible if you can give me any info on the saltwater ones like their enemies and habitats or tell me if you know where to find such information it would be very helpful   thank you in  advance      Stephanie <Hi, Ryan with you today.  Here's a good article on hermits: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm You may refer to the works listed in the bibliography for further reading on these creatures!  When searching, you may find more success when using the term "Marine Hermits."  Good luck with your report! Ryan>

Help. Terr. Hermit crab beh., rel. matters    7/9/10
we have had hermit crabs for over three years, we have seen them naked but this time one went naked and climbed into the water dish, and what we started to think he was molting. He hasn't moved or done anything for 5 days. He was moving just a couple of days ago. But nothing, we had to remove the water dish because the other one was trying to get at it. I don't smell anything. Would this be consider molting? If so, how long?
He is very small. He has molted before but never on top of the surface.
thank you
<Greetings. It isn't normal for Hermit Crabs to moult outside of their shells or at least outside some sort of burrow, so if you see your Hermit Crab moulting on top of the sand or coir, something is probably amiss.
Start by checking diet, particularly the availability of iodine, as iodine deficiency seems to be a very common reason for improper moulting. Note that Hermit Crabs can be cannibalistic, and it is crucial that recently-moulted Hermits get themselves into shells as fast as possible. If that isn't happening here, you need to separate them. The fact your Hermit hasn't moved is very worrying, and I'd be isolating him regardless. Make sure the vivarium is suitably warm -- unless you're in the tropics room temperature won't do -- and sufficiently humid. Like a lot of cold-blooded animals "dying" can take months, even years, so just because you've been successful thus far doesn't mean you've actually been keeping them properly. Sometimes it takes a long time for the problem to become fatal.
So sit back, review living conditions, and make sure you're providing everything you should. Most of the people selling Hermit Crabs in malls and whatnot haven't the foggiest idea what they need, and those little plastic habitats they sell are pure garbage. At minimum, you need a 10 gallon aquarium with a couple of inches depth of damp sand or coir, plus a shallow basin of either dechlorinated freshwater (for Purple Pincer Crabs, Coenobita clypeatus) or brackish water (for Ecuadorian Crabs, Coenobita compressus) depending on the species you're keeping. This is VERY important, and if you provide the wrong type of water you will create problems in the long term. Unfortunately both species are equally available, and the retailers, particularly those in malls, have not a clue which one they're selling. Place a heating pad under the tank to maintain a steady 25 C/77 F. You need a hood to keep humidity in the tank, but sufficient ventilation to prevent fungal infections. You need to clean the sand or coir regularly, ideally every couple of weeks. The diet should be varied but calcium-rich, so lots of things like whole lancefish and unshelled shrimps rather than just prawn meat or fish fillet. Some vegetable matter, such as banana, is also important. An iodine supplement is almost always required, though some Hermit Crab foods may include iodine -- check the labeling. I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Hermit crabs friend or enemy   3/24/10
Good afternoon,
We purchased 2 hermit crabs about 2 years ago. Both have molted once.
However when crab A molted a second time crab B attacked it. I looked at the cage and saw that crab B ejected crab A from his shell. We separated the crabs and crab A survived. After 4 weeks we reintroduced the crabs
together and crab B immediately moved to what looked like an attack of crab A. Crab B came with its large pincer out and basically charged crab A. Everything we moved crab A and crab B apart, crab B charged crab A. Are
they now enemies? I plan to keep them separated; is this the right thing to do? Can crabs that once lived together peacefully for almost 2 years not get along after being separated?
Thank you
<You don't say whether these are marine, freshwater or terrestrial hermit crabs, but in general, yes, all hermit crabs fight over shells. This is widely observed in the wild because whole shells are a limited resource, and there are more hermit crabs looking for shells than there ever are enough empty shells. So there's some survival of the fittest going on! Make sure you have adequate empty shells *of the right sizes and types* of the hermits you're keeping. Normally aggression between specimens is minimal if they have enough shells to choose from. If they're fighting, chances are you don't have the right shells or enough of them. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hermit crabs friend or enemy   3/24/10
Good afternoon,
Thank you for your very prompt response.
<My pleasure.>
They are both terrestrial crabs.
I learn something new everyday. To my eye crab A and B are in the same size shell- but I guess crab B sees something in Crab A's shell that he wants.
<Guess so!>
We will get some new shells and see what happens.
For a follow up question- Crab B has not molted a second time and I think he is overdue -b/c crab B molted before A the first time and A has already molted second time and crab B's color is "washed out". Can crab B getting ready to molt but he will not b/c he cannot find the right shell?
<Terrestrial hermit crabs need something to dig into before they can moult.
Slightly damp moss or coir are recommended for this. They also need to drink a lot beforehand, because the water is used to pump up their bodies and so crack the old skeleton. If your crab is drinking a lot and digging a lot, that's a good sign moulting is around the corner. Before moulting happens, isolate the moulting crab if at all possible: crustaceans can be remarkably cannibalistic towards one another if they find some poor crab that's just moulted! Without a separate moulting tank, hermit crab keepers usually end up with just one specimen. In any case, leave the moulting crab alone while it is moulting, and be sure to let the crab eat its old skeleton. After moulting the now-larger hermit will go looking for a bigger shell. Moulting should take place every 1.5 years, and to moult properly
the hermit needs a good, calcium-rich diet (unshelled prawns, whole lancefish, etc), particularly in the weeks leading up to the moult.>
Thank you and thank you for your insight
<Cheers, Neale.>

What's wrong with them? Hermits, terr.... sys., fdg., beh....    8/5/09
Hello, my name is Ben.
Sorry to bother you, but there is something that's really bothering me and I'm worried about my Hermit Crabs.
<Interesting pets, and not difficult to keep, but often trickier than the sales clerks suggest. Suggest you visit one particular site that's all hermits, all the time:
It's a good site, and very frank about what's needed to keep them healthy.>
My brothers and I bought 3 hermit crabs (sorry, not so sure about the species) at Petsmart two days ago, we also bought frog moss, sponges, 3 shells of the appropriate size and some decorations. I had everything else ready at my house, hideys, chlorine remover, dishes, and bag of play sand.
I didn't buy any salt, though.
<Ah, this does matter. There are at least two species equally commonly traded in the US: Coenobita clypeatus, which needs a freshwater bathing pool, and Coenobita compressus, which needs brackish water or seawater in its bathing pool. Now, the critical thing to remember is that both species are widely sold, and sales clerks will say that both species need freshwater. That helps them make their sales quota! So do not, repeat DO NOT, take on trust any statement that the Hermit you have is a freshwater species. Review the link below, and confirm for yourself.
Use marine salt mix to make up the brackish water should you need it. At the amounts you're using the cost will be trivial, but you'll regret using cooking salt, aquarium tonic salt, or anything else that wouldn't be used
in a marine aquarium. You're after brands such as Reef Crystals, Instant Ocean, or whatever the cheaper generic marine aquarium salt is at your pet store.>
The lady who helped us mentioned something about them having only freshwater hermit crabs in store and that salt water was not necessary. I also didn't buy any commercial food, they didn't have any in store and I
heard they can a lot of other things instead.
<Certainly, these crabs are entirely omnivorous. An ideal diet would include soft fruit, freeze-dried or wet-frozen krill, squashed cooked peas, and chunks of lancefish, which you can buy frozen at pet stores. Lancefish are small fish, a bit like whitebait, and because they contain bones, they're a good source of calcium.>
I've fed them daily, watered the moss, misted the tank, gave them water.
(I've made sure to always use the water I setup with drops of chlorine remover every time I use any water)
<Very good.>
Well, here's my problem, I don't think they've eaten since I got them 2 days ago. I've fed them apple, melon, carrot, with small dabs of peanut butter or honey. I haven't really seen any change in the food from when I put it there. So I'm worried whether they're eating or not? Why not? How long could they go on like this?
<It is actually very common for Hermits to "go quiet" when first introduced to their new habitat. They're also somewhat nocturnal in the wild, and become more day-active once they settle down. So, between these two factors, you might well not see very much for the first couple days, even a week or so. Provided your Hermit is still alive, I wouldn't worry unduly about a quiet specimen for at least a week or so after purchase. Remove uneaten food to prevent fruit flies, fungus, etc. A small piece of lancefish would, I bet, be the thing to get them eating, so try that one night. Dead fish are a real treat in the wild, and land crabs get very
excited when they smell one!>
I also haven't seen a lot of action from them. Of course I'm not aware of what goes on after I fall asleep, but when I'm awake, they mostly hide all day. At night we take them out to play and exercise them a bit since
they're nocturnal but they don't seem to trust us much.
<They won't. It takes weeks before they become "trusting".>
It takes long for them to come out and when they do they try to scurry in the opposite direction, we always try to be as gentle as we can. Please, could you give us some tips that could help us earn there trust?
Please, I'm afraid they'll die, I've had hermit crabs before, but I wasn't well informed or prepared the first time. This time I did research on everything before getting them and I was prepared, but I don't understand
why they aren't eating. Thanks for taking time to read this, and I'm sorry to have bothered you.
Thank you,
<Do read the site mentioned, identify the species you have, adjust the salinity of the bathing pool if required, and give your Hermits time to settle down. Remember they need warmth, and if your habitat is too cold
(air temperature less than 22 C/72 F) they're not going to be active at all, and will probably die quite quickly. These animals live in the Caribbean area, so if you don't live somewhere with a similar tropical
climate, you WILL need a heater. An undertank heating mat is ideal, and doesn't cost much. Alternatively, some type of heating lamp could be used; not a regular lamp, a proper heating lamp mind you! Visit a reptile pet store and review the options for heating lizards, snakes and other warmth-loving animals. All of these tropical pets need heat, and it's a shame sales clerks often suggest they can be kept at room temperature in
the US and Europe; they very largely can't. If you happen to live somewhere warm like Florida where the air temperature would be adequate, don't forget that air conditioning will cool the air in your home, and that will also cool the air in your Hermit habitat. So do think very carefully about heating: it's probably the single most common reason why tropical "critters" of all kinds die in captivity. Cheers, Neale.>

Hermit Crab Reproduction? Nope - Just Molting - 8/21/03 We apparently had a male ("Jupiter")  and a female ("Crustaceous") hermit crab.  They were reasonably active (when it was safe I let them out to walk around an open space on the floor).  They enjoyed their food and drank from their sponge.   They always slept cuddled closely together. <Hmmm... no mention of daily spraying of them/the tank for humidity... helps them to breath easier - literally. Too many hobbyists are not informed of this and the crabs suffer slowly over time (evidenced by inactivity, incomplete molts, etc)> Then Crustaceous seemed to be getting antisocial and was off to herself most of the time.  I realized she was in the same spot through the day and then also through the night.  When I picked her up, she just about fell out of her shell - and of course she was dead.  But her body looked really weird - as if there was almost nothing inside the skin.   <this was simply the molt my friend> I planned to bury her with the rest of our long last hermit crabs, <yikes... how many bodies? I'm wondering if they just haven't been petering out slowly from lack of spraying/humidity?> but I thought I would clean the shell and keep it. I was shocked when I looked into the shell and saw what looked like a very tiny fully formed hermit crab claw.  It was orange/red in color.  I determined there was no life in whatever it was and tried to pry it gently from the shell.  It was a tiny  formed crab. The legs broke off as it just fell out once it was loosened.  That also seemed as if there was not much (if anything) inside the shell. There was an odor so my husband quickly wrapped it up and disposed of it.  I am sorry to say we didn't just bury the whole thing in the yard.  But, I was afraid of disease and the whole thing was so weird I wasn't sure it really happened.  Jupiter is not looking too well right now either.  I totally scrubbed their home, changed everything and am trying to keep him safe if there were any germs.  But, I am afraid we are going to lose him. I have been obsessed with that baby crab - because that's what I'm sure it was - and regret I hadn't seen your web site before I disposed of it.  I would appreciate your comments.  Ann <please do buy a handbook online or at your local pet store on keeping hermit crabs properly... much data online too. That was no baby as you might guess by now, but the shrunk molted living crab. It sounds like you need a spray bottle in use by the tank ;) Best of luck. Anthony>

Hermit Crab Reproduction? Molting - 8/24/03 Thank you so much for your prompt response.  I feel terrible to know I caused its death.   <no worries, mate... their natural lifespan is not so long... and the crabs we collect are generally adults of an unknown age> I do spray the crabs (obviously not enough) and make sure they always have plenty of clean water in their dish and sponge.   <excellent to hear... and do check out the following links mentioned to us by a daily reader after seeing yours and other recent posts: http://www.landhermitcrabs.com http://www.hermit-crabs.com > I have kept them successfully for years at a time.  And I have read up some - again obviously not enough.  I only learned from your site about their need for salt, though I should certainly have figured that out considering they come from the shore.  I never, never heard anything about the crab molting - not from any of my friends who have many more hermit crabs than I have. <my goodness... tis a common, albeit secretive occurrence. The molts are generally eaten> And believe it or not, I did even buy a hermit crab book at the pet store when my granddaughter brought the first hermit crab here.   <excellent... you really are quite on par my friend. Keeping them for a couple of years is quite good too> But she took the book, and I had the crab.  Not a very good combination. Please be sure no other hermit crab will suffer in my hands.   Thank you again. <always welcome... best of luck! Anthony>

Destructive Terrestrial Hermit Crabs <Hi, Mike D here> I have two Land hermit crabs I have had them for about ten months they started out with a decent sized sponge that they would drink out of. It always  had fresh water (chlorine free) but lately I have noticed that they are tearing it apart.<OK> For the past couple of days I have been hermit crab sitting and all the hermit crabs are getting along but the sponge that the visiting hermit crabs  had brought with them was in perfect condition and now it is a little torn apart. I am pretty sure that it is my hermit crabs doing all of the destroying of  the sponge. Is there any reason that they are doing this?<It could be any number of things, such as algae beginning to grow in the sponge tissue, or, if it's a natural sponge vs. an artificial sponge, it could contain a vitamin or mineral that they require, or at least enjoy> Is there anything that  I could do to make them stop it?<Why would you want to? They are doing it for a reason known only to them, and be it a vitamin deficiency or just sheer boredom, they seem to be getting some enjoyment from it. Sponges are so inexpensive that it would seem like a worthwhile and minor investment if it makes their life a little better>                                                                                             Sincerely,                                                                                                          Neva

Land Hermit Crab Molting Hello! I was wondering how long a hermit crab will take to molt. Also, what should I do to it (if anything) when its molting. The last thing I was wondering was where I could get a good online source about land hermit crabs. <Honestly I am really not sure, I would check out the links below to see if you can find this information.  Best Regards, Gage http://landhermitcrabs.com/ http://www.hermit-crabs.com/ > Hermit out of his shell 07.04.05 One of my hermits is out of the shell and crawling around the tank unprotected, what can I do???? <Keep the humidity up, offer him a variety of shells with different size openings, and if possible put other crabs in a different enclosure until this guy figures out what he is trying to do, they are very vulnerable when out of their shell.  Oh, also provide some damp sand a few inches deep, he may be feeling the need to molt, and will need to bury himself.  Gage> Caring for Hermit Crabs 6/31/05 So Chuck am I doing everything else correctly. Also, do hermit crabs move their antennas around if they are healthy if so mine don't do much of that. < The antennas are really sensory organs as they encounter new or different objects. I think in an established habitat there would be little for them to investigate after awhile.> Their container is (13 1/2 by 7 inch) is that enough for two and a half hermit crabs [the 1/2=the very small one]. Sorry that might be confusing. < During the day it seems like they're asleep and don't need much room at all, but at night they are all over the place investigating everything. You might want to give them some rocks or twigs to climb on to give them a little exercise.> So please can you tell me anything else I need to know about taking care of my marine hermit crabs because I want them to be as happy as they can be.! Thanks. < I would recommend that you get a book on hermit crabs to give you a "check list" of what you can do. ZooMed puts out an inexpensive little booklet on hermit crabs that is very informative.-Chuck>

Hermit crab longevity 7/7/05 I've had my land hermit crab for  about a week now and it has already died. I was wandering of how  long  a land crab can live for?             Sincerely,   Chelsea Coleman   <Can live for years. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hermitcrabfaqs.htm For ideas on what may have gone wrong with yours. Bob Fenner>

White legs and claw??? Terrestrial hermit care  12/17/05 Hi: <Hello there> My daughter has 2 hermit crabs for about 6 months now and 1 week ago I noted that one came out of his shell suddenly and was running around the tank "naked".  I assumed he was molting and quickly set up an isolation tank. Since he was out of his shell, I was afraid to move him, so I just removed the other crab so my naked crab could be alone.  I have provided fresh water and have a heater.  First the large claw fell off, but it looked like he had already sprouted another one. <Perhaps a partial molt...> He continued to be active for the next 12 hours or so and lost some legs and part of his exoskeleton.  he then curled up in a corner of the tank (not buried though).  he has not moved AT ALL in about 6 days and from what I can see, his legs look like they are white and calcified.  His body is still orange.  His eyes and tentacles are curled under so i cannot see them.  I am assuming he's is dead, but there is NO fishy smell.  He looks very dried up and has been out of the shell for almost 7 days now. <Doesn't sound good...> Am I right to think he is dead, even though there is NO smell? <Possibly> My daughter is so upset, but I don't want to get rid of him if this is normal.  He has not moved in almost a week.  The completely white legs are what's making me think he's dead.  How long can they last out of their shell?  Should I throw him out?? <Mmm, I would "soak" this hermit crab in a bit of water for a minute or so... see if this revives it> Please help!  My 5 year old is so upset about "Bob"! Chelsea <I'd be too! "Bob" Fenner> Land hermit crab spends time out of his shell?  - 01/24/06   We believe our land hermit crab, Purple Haze, is an Ecuadorian.  He seems to be spending a lot of time outside of his shell.  We first thought he wanted to change shells but that was not the case because he went back into his old shell.  He still spends most of the time out of it though.  We washed his shell in hot water, like I read on this site said to do.  Sometimes he sits in the water dish.  This dish is freshwater but we also have a smaller dish of saltwater, which doesn't really seem to do anything for him.  We tried to give him a bath when he was in the shell, but of course, then he wouldn't come out.  We have 2 other Strawberry crabs and one Caribbean and they seem to be doing perfectly fine.  I can't seem to find any reason as to why he would be coming out of his shell except that he's not moist enough, but he sits in the water and we spray them as much as we can.  Can you help us?   Thanks so much! Sincerely, Theresa <Mmm, you do provide an assortment of shells to change into? Bob Fenner> Hermit Crab Molting   1/17/06 Thank you so much for your wonderful website.  My 9-year old son and I are new to the hermit crab world. We have two little ones.  We found an empty shell this afternoon, and the crabby is no where to be found.  It looks like there is a mound of sand though, so I'm thinking he buried himself.  My question is, do crabs leave their shells before molting? <Mmm, generally not, but can>   If not, what else could be happening?  I did notice a strong fishy smell the last few days, and he did seem more lethargic than usual. Do you think he is dead? <The smell is a bad sign> (I hope not!!).  What do you suggest we do?  Thanks again! <I would gently dig up this Hermit, set on a damp clean sponge that is wetted... see if it revives... offer an assortment of shell sizes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hermit Crab Molting    1/19/06 Thanks for your help and quick reply.  Crabby seems to have been in his shell all along.  He must have gone in so deep we couldn't see him (either that or he got out and went back in).  He has moved only a few millimeters in the last 4 days though.  Still strong fishy smell, <I would have two batches of substrate... one to wash, let air dry, the other to have in use...> but he is alive and moves his claw if you touch it.  We have misted him every day like we always do and offered new foods.  Could he be molting without having buried himself? <Possibly> The other crabby seems to be fine.  Should we still try the sponge idea (didn't want to handle him if he is molting)? <Yes, I would... this is the best way of providing moisture> Thanks again so much!! Susie <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Hermit Crab Needs A Home  12/22/05 Hello! We have a small tank of hermit crabs - 3 in a 10 gal.  We are experiencing our first molt - we noticed yesterday he is entirely out of his shell and quiet - the exoskeleton just next to him.  He has a few choices for new shells.  This morning he is eating his exoskeleton - still with no shell on!!  I've misted the tank, but worry about why he isn't using a shell.  Can you help?  Rebecca < Give him a little time for his exoskeleton to harden up. Give him an assortment of larger shells to pick from. In the wild they may go through hundreds to find the right one. It is good that you are misting him. He may dry out without his shell.-Chuck>

Land Hermit, Moulting or Perished? - 04/06/2006 Hello WWM Crew! <Hi, Starry; Sabrina with you today.> Recently, one of my hermit crabs has stopped moving.  Concerned my girlfriend picked it up and our hermit crab did not move.  We keep the tank at around 80 degrees F and make sure there is plenty of freshwater in their bowls.   <Humidity?> The tank does not smell, and I have not checked on the hermit crab myself for fear it is molting.  I hate to disturb it if it is, but I would like to find out if it is still alive.   <I would, in this case, pick it up and give it a good sniff.  If it smells "sour" or "fishy", you might want to use a fingernail and GENTLY try to pry his legs....  if they are strongly/fastly in place, leave him be, and place him in a system separate from any other crabs.  If they are loose, likely you'll find that he's passed, I fear.> We had an infestation once from mites, but cleaned out the tank, replaced the substrate and boiled all their toys.  The only significant change is that we went from sand to mulch (coconut fibers).  We have had these crabs for over two years now and would dearly miss our pet if it were to die.   <I understand....  and sympathize.> What can I do to save it, if it is not dead already.   <Place him in a dedicated, smaller system (even if inside the other tank) to protect him from the other crabs.  Keep the humidity very high.  If he is moulting above ground, this is cause for concern, as a healthy crab should not do this, and would not in nature.  Lack of humidity is one of the greatest killers of these pet crabs; please be cautious of this.  I would also very, very strongly recommend supplementing their water with iodine, and feeding foods high in iodine (krill, human-consumption shrimp tails, etc.), as it seems to me that one of the things that leads to "mysterious" poor health and "mysterious" bad moults is common with crabs not fed or supplemented with iodine in any way.  This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine; these are marine or near-marine animals who, in the wild, are used to a diet and water rich with iodine.  They usually get nearly none in captivity, and iodine is crucial for them to be able to use calcium to make new shells....> Sincerely,  -Starry <Best wishes to you and your leggy pals,  -Sabrina>

Land Hermit, Moulting or Perished? - II - 04/10/2006 Hello again WWM Crew, and Sabrina! <Hello again!, Starry!> Thank you for your response and comments.   <Glad to be of service.> Sadly, my crab has passed away leaving only one left.   <.... I am very sorry to hear this.> Fearful, it may be because she could not dig herself well into the substrate which may have allowed her to dehydrate? <Possibly....  Though the coconut fiber, if slightly moist, is usually a very decent substrate.  Also keep in mind that any substrate should be deep enough for the crabs to go completely underground.> I plan on going back to the calcium rich sand as the substrate instead of the coconut. He has been shell hopping for the past few nights.  I have learned something new from you guys, I have never found in any of the crab care forums that my crabs needed iodine; I will be providing him with it from now on in their water bowls.  Also, I was not aware that  salt was necessary as part of their diet.   <Use an iodine supplement intended for use in a marine aquarium.  If you don't use an iodine supplement, please at least use a quality synthetic sea salt intended for reef aquaria when you make their saltwater (remember, most/all land hermits need both saltwater and freshwater).  I know a lot of the hermit crab forums suggest to only use the "Doc Wellfish"/Aquarium Pharmaceuticals salt - but let me reiterate, land hermits are more marine animals than anything when it comes to water.  I tend to go by a rule of thumb:  "If I wouldn't use it for recreating an environment for my saltwater fish/crabs/corals, I won't use it for my land hermits."  The Aquarium Pharmaceuticals salt is intended as a freshwater supplement only and can't be used as an adequate salt for a reef tank.  It will not recreate the water conditions of natural seawater.  Synthetic sea salts, like Instant Ocean, Oceanic, etc., are MUCH better than using the AP stuff.  Now, I'm not trying to put down the AP salt - I DO use it in freshwater applications when necessary, as it does not have all the various minerals and supplements that a reef tank needs (and that I don't want when I need to use salt in a freshwater tank).  But I won't use it for my crabs.  Its intended purpose is NOT to recreate ocean conditions, but for use in freshwater, and it is very useful for its intended purpose; it's just not what I'd want to use for an animal that should have marine water.  Sorry to ramble on here; again, this is a big pet peeve of mine....  It is "common knowledge" for folks keeping aquatic saltwater animals that they have certain needs (calcium, iodine, etc.), but it seems this knowledge hasn't yet transferred to folks who keep land hermits, much though I've tried to offer this information in various forums, message boards, etc....  Sigh.> We bought a bag of plain salted tortilla chips, and he has been munching on it every night.  Should the chips only be given as a treat?   <A very seldom treat....  try to make sure they are as low-fat as possible, with very very basic ingredients (corn, salt)....> And, do I only provide iodine at a certain frequency or can he have it all the time?   <Either offer foods rich in iodine (shrimp with the shell on, krill, etc.) very very often, or supplement their saltwater with iodine supplements intended for saltwater tanks.  Or both.> Also, are two crabs enough to keep each other company?  How many should I get, if not?  He looks awfully lonely.   <They are actually very social animals, though they don't really "get attached" to each other....  I would advise no less than two, but as many as your tank can realistically sustain is just fine.> Thanks for all the help again. <Any time.> Sincerely, Starry <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Missing in action. Hermit beh.   7/18/06 Hello. My name is Kris and I have a 5 year old son who is so taken with his hermit crabs. He plays with them constantly and the problem I have is that the other day he was playing with his favourite of 2 years, when he got sick. That was okay, but when he cleaned up and came back his crab was gone. In all the rush for the bathroom it seems Seb was left on the floor. I know you will say he is there somewhere, but we have looked everywhere. Is there anything I can do to tempt him out as we have floor heating in the concrete slab and I'm concerned that he could overheat on the floor. There is also the possibility of not finding him until he dies. Any suggestion? <Need to make a thorough inspection... Hermits can crawl, and even climb up fabrics... Could be quite a distance away. Need to find before he gets too dehydrated... Bob Fenner>

Land Hermit Crabs Acting Weird 11/01/06 I have five hermit crabs whom I love dearly.  I have a ten gallon tank in which is mostly sand, and a small area with saltwater.  For the last month or so, the two largest hermits stay on the bottom of the tank under the sand, and often the smallest hermit joins them.  They are all purple pinchers.  I have two Ecuadorians as well, both of which I have lately noticed odd behavior.  For the most part, they stay in a little log in the tank, but the last couple of nights, one of them has been staying near the heater while the other comes to the front of the tank and goes wild, trying to claw out of the tank.  Tonight, I noticed that she went into the saltwater and stayed there awhile.  She was clawing there too, and kept falling backwards.  I have a lot of rocks and pebbles in the water so they can climb back out, but I got worried and pulled her out.  The first time, she went back in immediately, the second time she went into the log.  What's going on and should I worry about any of them?  Will she drown if I leave her in the water? Thank you, Letitia < Your hermit crabs could be getting ready to shed. They require more moisture to shed the exoskeleton. When they shed this outer covering they are very vulnerable to attack from the other crabs. They may need to be isolated until they are done shedding.-Chuck>

Terr. Hermit on the loose   8/20/06 I really messed up, and need some help. Took my crab out this evening for a bit of exercise, and I have lost him in the house. Is there any way I can coax him out of hiding....we have been looking for almost 2 hours. I am heartbroken...any tips would be helpful. Thanks, BJ <Mmm, about the only thing to do is keep diligent re looking... will either "hole up" in a corner, or be walking about searching for food, water... likely for a few days. Good hunting! Bob Fenner>

Re: Terr. Hermit on the loose... less so...   8/21/06 Thank you for your reply. At midnight last night, I heard the familiar scratching sound, and sure enough, he is hidden under my wall unit. <Ah, good> Naturally it weighs a ton, so I cannot move it, but I am hoping that later on, he will emerge. How long can they go without food/water? I put a few bowls of food outside the wall unit, but I don't know if he knows it is there. <Mmm, depends on how hydrated, nutrified to start with... size, species... a few days likely, but if it were me/mine, I'd invest in those universal heavy-work expediters, pizza and beer, and get some help to move that wall unit stat! Bob Fenner>

Hermit crab... beh.?  12/7/06 <<Hi, Claire. Tom here.>> I have a couple of hermit crabs that were doing very well until last night when one of them shed it's shell and is now without one.  Can you tell me how long he can live like that.  There are a lot of empty shells in the tank for him to pick a new one.  I just don't know what to do or not to do.  Can you please help me. <<First, don't panic. (I knew you weren't going to but I thought I'd mention it.) As long as your Hermit doesn't have anybody in the tank that might find him/her "tasty" during the transition, he/she will be fine. As long as the empty shells are larger than the one that was evacuated, your Crab will find a place to reside. To put your mind at ease - hopefully - the water hasn't changed, only the "borrowed" home. As long as there are no predators in the tank, he/she will do what's natural and find a bigger place to climb into until it's time to move again. Not to worry.>> Thanks Claire <<You're welcome, Claire. Tom>>

Hermit Crab Outside It's Shell*** -- 09/10/07 Hello, My daughter received a hermit crab for her birthday, so we were unfortunately un-prepared and un-educated regarding this "new pet"...nonetheless, after one week of having him, (and after reviewing hermit crab information), we decided to buy him a "friend". The new hermit crab has been active since the purchase, climbs, and we actually saw him eat, compared to the other ones behavior. (Prior to the new one's arrival, the initial one didn't move around too much, unless outside of it's cage or handled, and we never saw him eat---) After it was determined the "friend" was safe, we introduced them...the new one seemed pretty interested in the initial crab, and appeared to corner him in a pot we are using for a hideout for them. However, there wasn't too much noise, nor loss of limbs which would indicate a shell fight?! We moved them apart from each other, and they remained apart as far as we know... The other morning, my daughter woke up and discovered that the original crab came outside his shell (approximately 12 hours after the two crabs were introduced)... We tried to isolate him with his original shell and newer ones of different sizes (we boiled all of which)...we tried to manually get him in his shell, and after all of which has failed he is now isolated in a new bigger aquarium. He doesn't seem to eat much, and hangs out on the water dish... Is this crab going to make it? How long can they live outside their shell? Is there something else we can do for it? How long should we keep him isolated? Thank you~ <Greetings. When hermit crabs leave their shells -- and don't go into new ones -- it is a very bad sign. The bottom line is this: despite being widely sold as inexpensive pets, hermit crabs are every bit as demanding as any other exotic animal. They need warmth, humidity, and access to the right sort of water. Some need freshwater to bathe in, others brackish (slightly salty) water. As much as they need warmth and humidity, they can also overheat, and one response to this they have (in the short term at least) is to leave their shells and lose extra heat by evaporation. Hermit crabs can and will fight -- they don't need friends! Quite the opposite: crabs fight over access to shells in the wild because complete shells suitable for use are a very restricted resource. So they tend to fight and then the winner will try out the loser's shell to see if its an improvement. The loser might get the winner's old shell, and if you're lucky, it'll fit and no harm is done. But if the loser ends up with a shell that won't fit, then the poor little crab is a homeless hermit. You can coax crabs back into their shells, mostly by rinsing both off with clean, dechlorinated water, either fresh or brackish depending on the species you have (this is important: try and identify which species you have, and then use the right kind of water). Place the cleaned crab and hermit somewhere quiet, and hopefully nature will take its course. Offer some alternative shells as well of similar or slightly larger size. Never, EVER try to force the crab into a shell -- you'll almost certainly cause damage to the animal. In the short term at least, the crab isn't at risk, so speed isn't critical. Finally, go through the list of environmental things and make sure you're up to speed on all of them. Just a reminder: you need a substrate of coconut fibre or similar for them to walk about it, a pool of fresh or brackish water, an under tank heater to raise the air temperature to around 25 C, and a way of ensuring the humidity is quite high (a loose fitting glass lid is ideal, keeping the warm air and moisture in, but leaving enough ventilation to prevent fungus). None of this is expensive. Coconut fibre you can buy in blocks from reptile pet stores for a few dollars, glass can be cut to size by any glass or DIY store, an under tank heater costs around 10-20 dollars depending on the size of the tank, and the pool of water need be nothing more complex than a plastic peanut butter jar lid or very shallow trough of some sort. Needs to be deep enough they can crawl into and splash about, but not so deep they can climb out of easily, and certainly shouldn't be able to drown in. For the average size crab, a bath about 1 cm should be fine. As mentioned before, avoid overheating by keeping the tank away from direct sunlight. And that's basically it. They aren't expensive animals in the least, but those very few things are pretty much non-negotiable. Some folks pamper their crabs by giving them plastic plants and bogwood to crawl about on and explore, and so much the better. These are mostly forest-dwelling animals, and they appreciate climbing areas. But the coconut fibre is the thing they like to dig into, and that's fun for them too. It's like leaf litter, I guess. And that's about it. I hope this helps, Neale>

Hermit Crabs, beh., sys.    8/18/07 Just a simple but maybe a complex question; I recently bought two hermit crabs. One of them died and the other has really been acting funny. There was a natural sponge in the aquarium with the hermit and it has torn the sponge all apart. Can you tell me what I need to do, whether I should buy another sponge or just what. What caused him to destroy the other sponge? Thanks <Greetings. Hermit crabs, like crabs and crayfish, view sponges as soft sediments to be picked through and any organic detritus found therein eaten as food. It's what they do in the wild, and you can't stop them doing this in the aquarium. So, the filter needs to be something encased in plastic, like a box filter. Hermit crabs are not "easy" pets, and keeping them alive for any length of time requires a little effort. They need warmth, humidity, soft sediment (like coconut fibre) for burrowing into, a proper diet, water for bathing (either freshwater or brackish depending on the variety). Be sure and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hermitcrabfaqs.htm If you still have problems, get back in touch. Cheers, Neale>

My hermit crab has buried him/herself twice in two days!  8/14/07 Hi I just came home from vacation and my dad has been taking good care of my crabs (even though one of them died). I found one buried in sand. That night it came out of the hole The next morning (today) I couldn't find it! I found it buried under the small "stick" we have in our crabitat. I left him be-I think he's molting. What should I do? Thanks, David <... what species is/are these? Do you provide moisture (as in a piece of damp sponge?)... Have you read here?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hermitcrabfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

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