Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Terrestrial/Freshwater Hermit Crabs Disease/Health

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 Behavior, Terr. Hermit Compatibility, Terr. Hermit Selection, Terr. Hermit Systems, Terr. Hermit Feeding, 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


Land Hermit crabs 7/13/03 Hi there I was wondering if you can help us. We have 3 land hermit crabs. The larger one of them (Sherman) was just purchased a few days ago, he was active and happy. This morning I found him in the middle of the tank almost all the way out of his shell and limp, but, when I touched his legs, he very slowly moved back into the shell and has not moved since, (when you do touch the legs it will have very slow movements). <have you been misting these creatures daily or nearly so with fresh water? They need the moisture to respire properly> I have moved him into another tank. Once I moved him out and had a closer look at him, I noted a lot of dried up and peeling skin? Its eyes are droopy with no colour. <the lack of water if a common error/mistake> I found him in the middle of the tank on top of some food, taken from the dish. The day before I didn't notice anything wrong, He did spend a lot of time in the water dish and food dish though. The temperature of the tank is between 78 and 82 and the humidity is around 70%-80%. <hmmm... my apologies. It sounds as though you are quite aware of the need for hydration. If a rinse or spritz of the creature does not help... we are looking at another issue indeed> The other 2 crabs are fine and active. Is this guy dying. Please help me I am the mother of 3 children who will be very upset when they wake today. Thank you Sherman's mom <hmmm... I suppose there are many possibilities... stress-induced trauma from recent import not the least of them. I regret that I know little more about this hardy creature than you/we could find with skilled keyword searches on the Net and in books. Anthony>

Sick hermit crab Hi, We just got a hermit crab about a week ago now, from a shop on the strip in Virginia Beach. He was climbing around when we bought him. We initially got it for our visiting 5 year old nephew, but then decided we should keep it after reading the booklet we got telling how much care they actually need. He was doing well at first, but then one day (about 5 days later) I looked in his cage and one of his legs (right side) had fallen off.  <had it been getting daily spraying with freshwater or a daily dunk?> It was then that I also noticed that his small pincher was missing also. So that left him with the 3 legs on one side and only 1 on the other. He has not been very active since that day. He cannot get around very well. There's a little u-shaped wooden stand that he likes to sit on. He cannot get himself up there anymore, so my husband or I will put him up there. He sits up there all day. So I will occasionally sit him on top of the food so he has a chance to eat (I hope he is anyway). Then we will put some water on him or dip in the water bowl, then set him back on his wood. <yes... the daily spraying is critical... it helps them breathe! They need humidity and every day> It happened to be the same day he lost his leg, that we went out and bought another hermit crab for a friend. We also bought a 10-gallon tank so they would have plenty of room. The new crab has been very active, and he's considerably larger. At first we were concerned that he'd try to hurt the little crab so we kept watching them. It doesn't seem he'll try to hurt him.  <keep many extra shells around to reduce aggression and give them something to play with> I've been reading on line trying to learn more about what we can do. I went ahead and put the little guy back in his original cage again, and have it sitting in the bigger cage. (We have not had a chance to set up the new cage yet, we're planning on doing that tomorrow. Right now we have a piece of cardboard down and soaked it pretty well with water to keep moisture in the cage for them. We also have a big bowl of water in there, and some of those water sponges. And we have a couple of shells in there, one with water and one with food.) <the standing water isn't enough... as per above> We don't know if the little guy is sick or if he's going through his molting. Any information you can give us would be great. Should we try taking him to a vet? Is there anything we can do to help him get better if he is sick? I've read on this site a lot about the alkalinity of the water. Should we maybe add some baking soda to the water? We are using the water from the tap. <unless your tap water is very acidic (doubtful) please don't add baking soda> We are very concerned about our new little pet, please help. Thanks, Jon & Julie ps. I hope this is the right place to ask these types of questions... <yes... thank you for caring to learn. You've got the right place!>

Our sick hermit crab Hi, <<And hello to you...>> We just got a hermit crab about a week ago now, from a shop on the strip in Virginia Beach. He was climbing around when we bought him. We initially got it for our visiting 5 year old nephew, but then decided we should keep it after reading the booklet we got telling how much care they actually need. He was doing well at first, but then one day (about 5 days later) I looked in his cage and one of his legs (right side) had fallen off. It was then that I also noticed that his small pincher was missing also. So that left him with the 3 legs on one side and only 1 on the other. He has not been very active since that day. He cannot get around very well. There's a little u-shaped wooden stand that he likes to sit on. He cannot get himself up there anymore, so my husband or I will put him up there. He sits up there all day. So I will occasionally sit him on top of the food so he has a chance to eat (I hope he is anyway). Then we will put some water on him or dip in the water bowl, then set him back on his wood. It happened to be the same day he lost his leg, that we went out and bought another hermit crab for a friend. We also bought a 10-gallon tank so they would have plenty of room. The new crab has been very active, and he's considerably larger. At first we were concerned that he'd try to hurt the little crab so we kept watching them. It doesn't seem he'll try to hurt him. I've been reading on line trying to learn more about what we can do. I went ahead and put the little guy back in his original cage again, and have it sitting in the bigger cage. (We have not had a chance to set up the new cage yet, we're planning on doing that tomorrow. Right now we have a piece of cardboard down and soaked it pretty well with water to keep moisture in the cage for them. We also have a big bowl of water in there, and some of those water sponges. And we have a couple of shells in there, one with water and one with food.) We don't know if the little guy is sick or if he's going through his molting. Any information you can give us would be great. Should we try taking him to a vet? Is there anything we can do to help him get better if he is sick? I've read on this site a lot about the alkalinity of the water. Should we maybe add some baking soda to the water? We are using the water from the tap. We are very concerned about our new little pet, please help. Thanks, Jon & Julie ps. I hope this is the right place to ask these types of questions... <<Well... we specialize pretty much in the aquatic creatures here, but I can sympathize with your situation. What I did was enter the phrase, "terrestrial hermit crabs" into the Google search engine and came up with what I think is a pretty good link with much advice and information about non-aquatic hermit crabs. Point your browser to this place: http://aboutlandhermits.com/ - I read through the site for a little while. There is a page that addresses your very problem. Good luck treating your new pet. Cheers, J -- >>

Hermit crab health Good Morning: <cheers!> My son has two hermit crabs. The problem is that the bigger one has lost his two outside legs, one each day for the last two days. I think he looks sick. Is there anything I can do to save him or is losing his two legs the beginning of the end? Please send your reply to XXXX@aol.com. <I assume that this is a land hermit crab (the advice is similar nonetheless). The crab can easily regrow a lost appendage after several molts. We need to be concerned why it happened though. A common error with land hermit crabs is keeping them too cool (an air-conditioned room) and especially not hydrating them properly. Such crabs need to be sprayed daily with fresh water to keep their lungs moist for breathing. Several times a day is better. A dish of water in the tank does not do the same thing. Occasionally dunking them is helpful but caution that they don't drown. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks. Nelson Frye

Hermit Crab Mites? I have had hermit crabs for 4 months.  I noticed really small, tan/clear bugs in the cage, crabs, and food dish.  I cleaned the cage, but they are still there.  Where are they coming from?  How do I get rid of them?  Do they hurt the crabs?  I have lost two crabs. <Hmm, sounds like mites to me, nasty little buggers.  Check out the site below for more info. http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/vanessap/hermit/cs/cs_mites.html#grainmite   Best Regards, Gage>

Land Hermit Disease Hi WetWebMedia crew, <Hello, Gage here.> About two months ago I have purchased two land hermit crabs. They seem healthy to me but recently there is some talk about a hermit disease that kills whole tank full crabs. They don't seem to shown any significant symptoms.  Do you know anything about this?  Are there any known diseases that hermit crabs can carry and that are dangerous to humans (like salmonella, cyst causing parasites, etc)? I have a 2.5 year old son who loves his crabs. I make him wash his hands every time he handles the crabs but that is pretty tough for a 2 year old and I am worried.    <I am not sure if they are as dangerous as say, a turtle, but I would definitely keep up on the hand washing, better safe than sorry.  http://www.hermit-crabs.com has a section for popular myths, they mention Hermit Crabs spreading disease.  I would start searching there.   Best Regards, Gage > Thanks in advance,  Iklil Palanduz

Help For Land Hermits? - 10/11/2004 Bob: HELP <OKAY!  Well, actually, Sabrina here with you, this fine, rainy afternoon.  Hope to help you with your hermits!> We have adopted 4 hermit crabs.  The crabs are from a "mall hut". we live in a small town and the pet stores have the shells, but not the animals.   <I actually recommend purchasing online from a reputable dealer and having them shipped, before purchasing from the carts in the mall, which promote deleterious conditions for these otherwise long-lived, fun pets.> Any way... we are excited with our new family members.   <Glad to hear it - these *are* a very exciting animal!> However,  the "mall" group provides little info and we have been on line for many days...we need good sound advice before we lose all four of our new friends!!! <I'm so happy you're eager to learn about your new animals.  Hopefully we can point you in the right direction!> one of our new friends has dropped 3 legs, one being his big pincher.  I am sure I should worry, but I am trying to learn all about this as my little girls find the body parts.  HELP!!!!!!!!!   <I would indeed be worried.  First off, are you positive that the crab has dropped legs, or is it possibly just molting?  Meaning, have you looked at the crab, and he is shy three legs, or did you just find leg shells laying around?  Next, what sort of setup are they in?  How large is the tank?  What kind of substrate are you using?  What are you feeding them?  Are you offering them both freshwater *and* saltwater, in separate dishes?  How warm is the tank?  Is the tank covered, and is it retaining humidity?  Humidity is the most important factor, here; hermit crabs, though they live on land, still breathe with gills - and their gills need to be wet, or they will suffocate.  If the tank is too dry, it will promote poor health in the crabs.  Also, this is also the biggest reason to boycott those mall kiosks - I have never seen a mall cart that had their crabs in any sort of a proper setup.  Who knows how long your crabs were at that place, with little to no humidity, etc., etc.  The crab with the missing legs was probably in ill health long before you acquired him.> We want them to be part of our life, the girls love them and sincerely want to take care of them (god knows this is more than they want to take care of their room!!)  <Well, how about this - let me give you an idea of a good setup for the crabs, and you can compare this to your current crab house and tweak your setup as necessary.  This is going to get lengthy, but don't be daunted!  It's a very fun experience!  For three crabs, I would have at least a ten gallon tank.  These are very inexpensive; you may be able to find one for cheap or free through the classifieds in your newspaper, even - new, they cost about ten dollars.  Next, the tank needs to be covered to hold in humidity.  You could either use a glass cover, or a lid/light combo, like those sold for fish tanks.  If you need to do this on the cheap, you could use just a piece of glass, Plexiglas, or even simply saran wrap!  Just needs to hold in the humidity.  Speaking of humidity, it would be a good idea to try to get temperature and humidity gauges.  These can be found at most pet stores that carry reptile supplies.  As for heating the tank, this may not be necessary, depending upon the temperature in your house. You can keep them in a warm location, or you can get a device for heating the tank.  Many folks use under-tank heaters for hermit crabs.  As for substrate, the crabs will need to be able to dig to remain feeling secure, and so that they can bury themselves when they need to molt.  My own personal preference is silica play sand, which can be found at home depot type stores for just a few dollars per 50 pound bag.  I keep mine just barely moist enough for the crabs to dig and tunnel in.  Commercial substrates like "Eco-Earth", "Forest Bedding", and "Calci-Sand" (or any other sugar-fine aragonite) are other good options.  Next up, water.  Despite common belief, it is now thought that *all* species of hermit crabs absolutely require both fresh and salt water.  This is not a rough task, though it might sound like it.  All you need is salt designed for marine aquaria, NOT salt sold for freshwater fish (there is some debate about this, but I stand VERY firmly by the idea that, if it's not good enough for ocean animals, it's not good enough for my hermits, which ARE ocean animals!).  Just follow the directions on the container to mix up a gallon of saltwater; you can use a gallon of drinking water from the store for this, and then just have it on hand any time you need to change the saltwater dish.  Dishes for the water (and food) can be done on the cheap, too - plastic lids from peanut butter jars will do nicely, or you can get fancy dishes from the pet store.  As for food, there are many commercial foods available (including some good fish foods, which can be used).  You can also feed them non-citrus fruits (apples are a BIG hit with mine!), coconut, unsalted nuts, and aquatic meats like shrimp and crab.  Now for the best part - decoration!  Hermit crabs LOVE to climb!  Driftwood, cholla, or any deciduous tree limbs (no pine or other conifers) will provide fun climbing and hiding places.  Half a coconut shell can be cut to make a neat-o hideaway.  Decoration can be done on the cheap, and still look great, so no worries there, either.  Just avoid anything metal in the tank.  So.  A recap: -10g or larger tank -Lid/cover to hold in humidity -Heat (or warm location) -Temperature and humidity gauges -Substrate -Fresh water -Salt water (gallon of water, marine salt mix) -Dishes/lids for food and water -Food -Climbing/hiding spaces And you'll be all set.  Now, back to the injured/sick fellah, I would try to keep him separate from the other two.  I would not handle this crab, and try to give him time to rest and recover from the likely poor conditions he was in at the mall.  Hopefully, with a bit of R&R, he'll come around.  Definitely offer him enough sand (or whatever substrate you choose) to bury himself in, in case he is ill or stressed.  Sometimes, just being able to hide from the rest of the world is enough to make them feel better.  I know I can relate to that!> Besides, I would not want to take on a pet with out knowing how to take care of it properly.....and I have just done that.... <But your willingness and eagerness to learn is a major boon....  Thank you for seeking answers.> I enjoy the little guys... A LOT... <Me, too!  Wonderful little critters, aren't they?!> help me, help him, I think he may be leaving us, can I help him...please??? <Just as above, give him some space separate from the other crabs for a while.  Offer him enough substrate to bury in, and both salt and fresh water.  Offer him treat foods like apple, coconut, and uncooked human consumption shrimp.  Give him some time to recuperate, and hope for the best.  That's perhaps the best you can do.> my e-mail would be XXXX  please send me advice!!   <Also, please check out http://www.hermit-crabs.com , http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com , and http://www.landhermitcrabs.com for more information and also hermit crab forums.  There are many opinions out there on the forums, though, so please dive in and research if you find something that you deem questionable.  The salt issue is one such topic that is, for some odd reason, hotly debated - and again, hermit crabs are, in a sense, *marine* animals; I think it very important that they have water intended for marine use, to provide them the nutrients and minerals (like calcium!) that they need.  Salt marketed for freshwater aquaria does not provide this.  Just my opinion, though!> I like them as much as my girls, and want them to be fine and healthy. <With your passion to learn, I am certain you are doing your best, and will continue to do so.  I daresay you will give your hermits the best chance at a good, long life.> help! <I hope I have indeed helped, and not just confused the matter....  But either way, good luck and long life to you, your daughters, and your hermits.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Some kind of worms in the hermit crab tank!! I have two small hermit crabs I keep in a small tank with pea gravel, a water dish and a feeding dish. They also have some decoration and a small branch to climb on. (although I have not seen them climb).  I recently started misting the whole tank when I've been taking them out for food/water changing and their own misting. A day or two after this first tank misting I found a colony of little white worms living in the gravel, just beneath where the food dish had been. I gave the tank a scrub, threw out  all the wormy gravel and cleaned the rest. Now about a week later, I took a closer look under the food dish and found more! Is this something in the food? I feed them dry Hermit food. Or contaminated gravel? Or just normal for Hermits. It's really pretty gross. Any help would be great!  Thanks >>>I really have no idea Amy, some kind of fly larvae/maggots perhaps. Jim<<< Hermit Concerns - 09/26/2004 <First off, Lisa, please forgive me for the delay in response.  Sabrina with you, tonight.> I came home tonight and found one of my hermit crabs alive and in his shell but his pinchers and legs were beside him not attached anymore.  What happened?? <First off, are you 100% positive the legs themselves are off, or has he simply molted?  It can certainly appear that they've lost legs if you find bits of exoskeleton laying around, but then later see the crab walking around perfectly intact.> What do I do? He is still alive but has only one leg.   <So you've seen the whole crab, then?  Not just the bits of legs?  If he really has lost all his legs but one, there's not a whole lot you *can* do, but hope that he can still feed himself.  If he cannot feed himself, I have heard of success with hand-feeding them, but it's not very likely to do the trick, unfortunately.  Be certain to keep his tank very humid (75-80% humidity - might consider getting a hygrometer) and be sure to offer him both freshwater *and* saltwater (use a marine aquarium salt to mix the saltwater).  Keep the tank's temperature warm, too, 70-80 degrees.> Will he survive? <I'm sorry; I do not know.  Stranger things have happened, but we can only do our best....  Definitely try to keep his tank warm and humid, and just care for him as best you can.  They can and do regrow legs, but this might be just too much to recover from.  My fingers are crossed.> We had been out of town and their sponge was dry.  Does that have something to do with it??   <It is possible.  Humidity is *extremely* important to hermit crabs.> Should I leave the legs in there or remove them or what do I do? <*If* the crab has only molted, and really still has his legs, he should eat the old shells.  If they are actually his legs, remove them, as they will rot and stink.> Sorry if this is a stupid question.    <The only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.  Thanks for writing in.> Lisa :) <Wishing you and your hermit well,  -Sabrina>

Hermit Concerns - II - 10/05/2004 Hi Sabrina.   <Hi again, Lisa.> Thanks for replying.  My hermit crab did die.  We had a little funeral for him.   <I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.> What do you supposed caused this?  I read somewhere that he was possibly stressed out for many different reasons.   <Stress is likely a big factor; other things, like bacterial infections, may have been at play, as well.  I'm afraid that not much is known - or at least easy to find - about the illnesses of hermits.> I did go purchase a heater and all of my other crabs seems to be ok.   <Glad to hear that.  Make sure the tank stays nice and humid, too.> By the way I was 100% sure his legs were off.  I mean all he had in the shell was his body and one leg.   <Poor feller!> That one finally fell off and the next morning he was dead. His little body fell right out of his shell when I picked him up.  It was depressing.  Oh well.   <Again, my condolences for your loss.> Thanks again. Lisa <Take care, Lisa, and thanks for writing in.  Wishing you and your other hermits well,  -Sabrina> Hermit Crabs - The Land-Dwelling Type 05/07/2004 I had paid for 2 hermit crabs.  A month later the first one I found out of his shell dead, and the 2nd hermit crab was in his shell and then next day, 2nd hermit crab had moved back in his own shell.  Then 2 week later 2nd hermit crab died out side his shell. <I'm sorry to hear that :( > I am new at this and don't understand why they died.    <I'm afraid I don't, either.  I have, though, found a decent care sheet online, and I do hope that this will help get you re-started.  Furthermore, on this link is also a forum, where you can detail your situation to the other forum users, and see if they can help you discern what happened, and whether it is preventable should you try hermits again. http://www.landhermitcrabs.com/ I would guess that the crabs were either in poor shape to begin with, or lacking something crucial to survival, like water.  Without more detail on their housing, temperature, humidity, etc., it will be difficult to determine exactly the cause of death.  I do recommend that you get on that forum, read that care sheet, and try again, implementing everything that you learn.> My 6yr old cried and cried.  I want to get another but scared to. <Understandable - but I think that, once you have a good understanding of these animals' needs, you could be confidant to try again.> I read a clipping saying they might not be dead so I still have 2nd hermit crab and hoping comes alive but I don't know if that article is right or I misunderstand the article. <My only best guess is that it was referring to the empty shell of the crab's exoskeleton after molting.... but I don't know.> Can you please help me and tell me what I am doing wrong.    <I wish I could, Melody.  I'm sorry I don't have any more to tell you - but I do think you'll find that link useful.  A simple Google search of "land hermit crab" will probably yield lots of information, as well.  Wishing you, your kiddo, and your future pet crabs well,  -Sabrina> Melody Linton

Dead Hermit Hello, I am so sad! I have had my two land hermit crabs in the same exact environment for over 1 year, with fresh food, fresh water on a sponge, toys, sleeping cave, etc. Five days ago, one of them died. I was concerned about the other one being lonely, then all of a sudden, he too died yesterday.  <Wow, I'm sorry for your losses. that's very surprising.>  I am baffled at what might have killed them? I have to admit when I got them, the book I got never mentioned that daily spraying is necessary, and I bathed them but hardly sprayed them. I also have a water softening system, and did not know that could cause harm. My question is, if I was so utterly irresponsible with their care, how is it that they both died within 5 days of each other?  <these animals are extremely hardy, most likely something might have been sprayed into the tank like a cleaning chemical or perhaps you had changed around their location in the room, for instance a woman last week lost her land hermit crabs due to the fact she had moved the tank closer to a heat register without realizing it. The heat was to much for the crabs.>  After reading your website, I feel so super guilty for not caring for them properly. Could the sponge have acquired a bacteria that might have killed them? I cannot think of anything else.  <it might have been, but I've known many people that have kept the same sponge in their tanks for many years with no problems.>  We buried them in their own boxes, side by side, and I truly miss them. Is it stupid that I am crying right now as I write this?  <It's not stupid, it shows that you actually cared for the animals you brought into your home. I would much rather have people like you in the world then the idiots I see walking into the pet stores every two weeks to purchase "replacement" animals.>  Thanks for any help.  <I suggest you check out the land hermit crabs forum. it's a fun place, lots of people their know their stuff about these weird little critters.  http://www.landhermitcrabs.com/   Check the place out I imagine you will fit in quite well with LHC owners. Good luck. Magnus>

Land Hermit Crab Question? >>I am going ahead and retyping much of this as it is so short. >Yes I have two hermit crabs and I've never seen one molt so my biggest one lost its legs.  I thought that it was molting but after three days I smelled something and he smelled bad.  Would it be [he] died or is this something that they go through when they molt?  If you can, please write me back and let me know.  Thanks, Tanya >>Well, Tanya, I'm going to assume that you mean to say you have land hermits.  There are two commonly kept species that I know of, the Caribbean and the Ecuadorian.  Both require sand deep enough to molt in, as it seems you may know (?).  However, it seems the nose knows, if it smells bad my guess is it did indeed die.  I will link you to a site where I've learned not only what kind of land hermit my oldest son "blessed" us with (which has been buried in the sand for about three weeks, we assume to molt as he stays tight in his shell and doesn't smell), but how to care for him.  The sites are http://www.hermit-crabs.com/  and  http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/vanessap/hermit/cs/  Best of luck!  Marina

SHEDDING HERMIT CRAB PROBLEMS I hope you can help us, I searched for an answer to this puzzling situation on your site but could not find one. My son has 2 land hermit crabs that we bought about a year ago. One is a larger dark red hermit crab and the other is what we consider a "baby", he is in a small shell about the size of the flat part of your thumb and he is lighter in color, more of a reddish white. We have never had problems with them in the past and we follow all the instructions we were given on caring for them.  They are in a medium sized tank with colored rocks on the bottom (we sometimes use Calci- sand but the upkeep is harder so we switched back to rocks about 2 months ago), we have 3 small sponges placed throughout the tank and a small bath with water, we have small shell dish to hold the food and a little house for them to sleep in, we also have a piece of cholla wood which we added about 2 months ago (which they never gained interest in).  Basically they keep to themselves and don't do much except when we give them a quick bath every week or so and clean the cage, then they seem to be pretty active for about 24 hours and then they retreat back to doing nothing most of the time. My son is supposed to keep their sponges wet and give fresh water daily, however he sometimes slacks off a bit and a day or so passes before he does it but for the most part they usually always have fresh water and they always have fresh food (FMR hermit crab food and treats). We have not changed anything recently and I have never seen them shed like I have read about.  A few days ago I looked in the tank and saw the little guy with half of his body hanging out of his shell which is VERY unusual for him) and he was EXTREMELY white and dried up looking. I didn't know if he was dead or just shedding but since his color was SO WHITE, I thought the worst, he looked DRIED UP, so I checked and they had fresh water and sponges and my son said he changed it the day before and both crabs were fine. I started to pick the crab up and it looked like his body was going to break in half and fall out of the shell so I left it alone, in case he was shedding, I didn't want to disrupt him. I figured we would wait and see what happens.  The next day he was in the same spot, not moved at all, however a leg had fallen off of his body, which gave me hope that he was shedding and not dead. Then today I checked again (3rd day) and now the entire front half of his body is out of the shell and looks like it moved ( I don't know if the other crab moved him or if it was like a spontaneous eruption) but he appears dead as can be since I think I can see his eye in the broken part of the body.  I plan to remove it from the tank, but I first want to be sure that he is in fact dead and this is not some sort of shedding process, please give me advice on what to do. I don't want to just give up hope, but I'm pretty sure he's dead and my son is heartbroken.  Can you please tell me what could have caused this so suddenly? I mean one day he was fine and the next day his body changed color and broke in half and came out of the shell, I don't get it. < An arthropod is never so vulnerable as it is when it molts its old skin. This shedding process is very tough on them and they really need to be misted to stay moist through the entire process. If they dry out and can't shed then the new softer skin is restricted. This soften skin also leaves them vulnerable to predators like other larger crabs. I suspect that the humidity was not high enough in the tank or the larger crab killed the smaller one when it turned white and tried to shed. Next time I would remove the smaller crab when they turned white and increase the humidity until the old skin is shed and the new one has hardened.-Chuck> 

Shrinking Crab Problem?     This afternoon, I looked into my crabs container to see his front end sitting out on the open. When I peeped into his shell, I saw an unusual sight.     My crab was light, light brown colour with none of the original markings and he was a way, way, way, super way, smaller size. Instead of just barely fitting in the shell, this different crab it was nicely buried inside.     This couldn't have been a crab attacking another crab because there was only one in the tank.     Could he have molted and became smaller or just had baby that ate it? <Perhaps the original animal did perish... but they can/do shrink down in size, molting at times... due to a lack of nutrition, poor water quality. Bob Fenner> Hermit Crab Problems I am sorry to bother you with this, but I didn't find my answer in the different web pages that I browsed.  I have had a hermit crab, Crusty, for  almost 2 years now.  He has molted several times, quite normally.   Last summer we added another crab, Crispy, to the cage.  They have both  been acting quite normally, and Crispy recently molted.  However, Crusty,  the older one, doesn't look very good.  He's hanging out of his shell  looking very floppy--a bit different than when he molts.  I confess that I  didn't smell him--I'll do that tomorrow.  I will also confess that my son  has not watered them for a day or 2.   Can you help?  Thank you for  your time! LMG < The biggest killer of land hermit crabs is the lack of humidity. During the summer the elevated air temps reduces the humidity and these little guys dry out and die. Older crabs may be more susceptible than smaller younger crabs.-Chuck> I'm worried about my Hermie 7/7/05 Hi! Approximately 2 weeks ago, I purchased 2 Ecuadorian hermit crabs. One is about 2-3 inches big and the other one is tiny and about 2-2.5centimeters. Their container is 12 x 7 inches and kept at around 78°F. I use Calci-sand as a substrate and make sure they always have adequate food & water (stress coat treated). I also have a Hermie hut and a few shells in there. (I don't know if this is relative or necessary, but I thought I'd provide the information just in case it is). Well, at the start of this week I found one of the legs of the larger hermit crab lying in the tank. Prior to this they both seemed very happy and healthy, and the small one is still active as ever. I've read through your website and I'm aware of the factors that may cause them to lose a limb. There aren't any mites or anything so I figured it was stress. He hasn't lost anymore legs since and I know that it's possible for them to grow them back when they molt, so I figured he would be okay. But this entire week he's only come out of his shell once. And that was after I misted him. But now he's not coming out at all or eating at all. Even at night or when I mist him. He doesn't dig or move or anything. I know he's still alive because he twitches when I touch his legs, and if I take him out and hold him for a while, he'll come out just enough so I could see his antenna twitching around, but he always just retreats back after a while and other than that I haven't seen him all week. I'm worried about him and I'm wondering if possibly you have any explanation for this? Thanks a lot! Jessica <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com <<? RMF>>

More On The Worrying Hermit - 07/13/2005 Hey Bob <Actually, Sabrina here....  Bob's pretty taxed from so many incoming questions....  Pretty busy season we've got right now!  Plus, I'm also a hermit crab geek ;) > Sorry to bug you again, but I wrote you the following message last week. Well, today the crab who lost a leg died. =( <I'm so sorry to hear it....> I think he died at least, I smelled him and he has a peculiar fishy smell, but a faint one. <A strong sign of a hermit's passing.  Again, so sorry.> I'm kind of a newbie at this and don't know exactly if this is the shed of the exoskeleton after a molt or if he's dead. <I'm assuming the "dead" hermit/shed exo is outside the shell at this point?  If so and there's no hermit in the shell, yeah, I fear the little guy's gone to the great ocean in the sky.> I've read through the page you sent in your reply as well as throughout the website, but I just can't seem to find any information that matches up exactly. I saw people writing about limbs coming off, but not strange behavior or anything afterwards such as I described to you in my previous email. <Your previous email does, in fact, sound like the little dude may have been doomed from before you got him - lethargy is a very strong sign of problems.  Invertebrate disease isn't a widely studied or discussed topic, so it is very, very hard to say what specifically may have caused his decline.> I'm especially concerned since now, my other hermit crab isn't acting himself and I think there's a strange liquid at the opening of his shell. <Can you describe this strange liquid?> I'm not entirely sure, as his shell is a dark color and it's hard to tell since it emits glare. I know I've read about this somewhere, too. But I can't seem to find information now when I'm most desperate for it. <If he's just starting to look a little gray or "washed out", I would wager that he's just gearing up for a molt.  If he takes off and digs underground, leave him alone, and let him do his thing.  I recommend that you slightly moisten at least one area of the sand that is at least deep enough to completely cover him if he digs in.> I just can't figure out what the problem is!! I thought my bigger one would be okay, they have all the necessary supplies as far as I know, I described them to you in my last email. <Yes....  The only things you haven't mentioned are humidity and saltwater.  High humidity is crucial - life-and-death important - for hermit crabs.  Do you have a humidity gauge?  Also, Ecuadorian hermits (Coenobita compressus) require saltwater in addition to freshwater....  This means two separate water bowls.  I *strongly* recommend using a salt designed for marine aquariums INSTEAD of the oh-so-popular Doc Wellfish or other salts designed for freshwater aquariums....  Basically, if saltwater fish can't live in it, I wouldn't give it to my hermits and assume it is anything like sea water.  Marine salt will help give him the calcium and iodine that he needs to complete a successful molt.> I'm desperate for your help and I really don't want to lose another one. I've grown rather fond of them, actually. <C. compressus are my favorites....  I have several of my own.  Erm, come to think of it, I did find that larger Ecuadorians tend to be a little more prone to being stressed after purchase....  possibly more likely to have disease - I dunno.  My littler ones were a great deal more lively just after purchase, and continue to be as lively and healthy as they've grown.> Please, any response would be appreciated. I'm sorry for the trouble, thank you so much for your time. <No trouble....  and glad to be of service.  The most crucial thing here is HIGH HUMIDITY.  If it doesn't smell like a freakin' rain forest in there, it's probably not humid enough.  Get yourself a humidity gauge, and get the humidity up to at least 70%, preferably a bit more.  Also, please take a look at http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com and http://www.hermit-crabs.com .  You'll find oodles of information there.  I hope it helps you out some.> Jessica <Wishing you and your hermit(s) well,  -Sabrina>

Land Hermit In Distress - 09/17/2005 Hi <Hello, Jenni.> I hope it's not too late for him.  I have a large hermit crab about the size of a 10 year olds fist.  Had him for a round a year.  The habitat has a heat pad (small) and salt, fresh water and usual food. <Good.> Humidity is fine.   <Very humid, then, yes?> I have just had a smaller crab molt then die.  Now the big guy is really limp almost hanging out of his shell and not retreating when I change water etc.   <Not a good sign....> He has a shell to move to if he needs, <Perhaps offer others as well; hermits can be picky as to what type/size of shell they prefer.> and generally he is really happy. He sat in his salt water dish for 24 hours - <Also a very bad sign....  Do you know what species this crab is?> the middle size crab did this just prior to changing his shell a week or two ago.   <I would increase the amount of iodine in his food (human consumption shrimp with shells still on, krill, seaweed, other foods high in iodine content) and calcium as well (there are supplements you can use that are designed for reptiles).  If he is gearing up for a moult, this is important stuff for him.  I add iodine to my land crabs' water.  I use Kent marine iodine, and add a couple drops in their gallon pool of freshwater and a few drops in their 2 gallon saltwater pool in addition to feeding foods listed above.  This is a water supplement designed for saltwater reef tanks to keep iodine levels safe for those animals that not only drink but actually live in the water.  As yet, I have not seen any bad moults in my hermits, and it's been a little over a year and a half....  I really think that, like with freshwater shrimp, many moult-related deaths can be avoided by seeing to it that these animals are not deficient in iodine.  Be sure his substrate is moist and deep enough to dig in, so he can head underground if he does end up moulting.> Please help I'm really worried we may loose him. <I've got my fingers crossed for him.> Jenni Lawson <Wishing you and your crabsters well,  -Sabrina>

Land Hermit In Distress - II - 09/19/2005 Hey Sabrina <Hi again, Jenni> Thanks for the advice.  I have isolated him and am keeping a close eye.  He is just hanging out of his shell and staying under his log tunnel.  Guess I will know what the result is in the next 24hrs.   <Crabs are resilient animals; I'm keeping my fingers crossed....> He hasn't touched his water or food overnight, not looking so good. <I do agree with you; time will tell.> Just bought 3 lively little critters (just in case), I don't want the remaining guys to get lonely, but they are not nearly his size, just medium size.  Not sure about the type of crabs we have in Australia. They look like Eq's and require salt and fresh water. <Could be the "calico" or "crazy" crab folks speak of; seems they are common there and may actually be a sort of a color morph of Ecuadorian hermits (Coenobita compressus - incidentally, my favorite).  I do recommend that you try to be sure these guys do get enough iodine-rich foods in their diet.> Thanks for the kind wishes. <Any time.> Jenni <Hoping for the best,  -Sabrina>

Hermit Crab Nudist - Land Hermit In Distress, III - 10/09/2005 Oh hi, it's me again.  <Hi, Jenni! Sabrina with you this evening.> I hope you don't mind but regardless of the website I just can't seem to get the answer I need and you were so helpful last time.  <I don't mind in the least, and I'm glad I was able to be of service to you!> Our favorite and longest resident crab has just molted and is hanging about naked.  <Mm. Not a good sign. Keep that humidity *high* - 'round 80%. Offer him many sizes and types of shells. If possible, have him separated from any other crabs in the tank; perhaps in a completely separate tank.> He has eaten most of his exoskeleton and was in his old shell until this morning should I wash him and place him isolation just with his shell or what? I have misted him so he says wet. <I wouldn't actually wash him; misting is okay. Allow him saltwater and freshwater deep enough that he can submerge himself, and a structure for climbing out of the water.> Any suggestions? <Just as above.> Jenni Lawson <Wishing you and your nudist hermit well, -Sabrina>

Hermit Crab Nudist - Land Hermit In Distress, IV - 10/13/2005 Hi, thanks for your response. <Any time, my friend.> He seems to be doing well I separated him from the other crabs and left him with a cleaned out shell beside him in the dark for a couple of days. He has returned to his shell <Oh, *very* good news.> doesn't seem to be moving around the tank much but I've have seen him moving his legs in and out of the shell. His skin has now started to pink up so I guess it is a just a matter of time until he starts to walk about again.  <Likely so. Do not handle him during this time.... let him recuperate.> Just out of curiosity can I clean up the rest of his exoskeleton he ate what he needed and the others seem to have had a nibble but I'm concerned about how smelly it can get! <Indeed! If it is smelly, go ahead and remove it.... Give 'em some krill or shrimp tails, hopefully supplemented with calcium.... They should be fine with that.> Jenni <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Terr. Hermit, Child acting like Moby Dick  - 4/11/2006 Hi! My daughter had two small hermit crabs. They were fine until one of her friends came over and stayed about 2 days during spring break. I didn't know until after the child left that she had been putting the crabs in her mouth and closing her mouth to make them come out of there shell. <Yuck!> This child had pneumonia I do believe. A couple of days later after she left to go home, one crab began what looked like he was blowing clear viscous bubbles out of his mouth, nose , what have you. Could he have contracted this pneumonia germ from this child? Thanks, Tammy <... Don't know... but do doubt this... perhaps just the stress, change in humidity... Hopefully this Hermit will recover. Bob Fenner> Re: Hermit Crabs...sad ending    12/9/06 <<Hello, Claire.>> Thanks for getting back to me but my crab died last night.  He was ice cold this morning and not moving at all.  I have had him about 3 years don't know how long crabs live. <<Very sorry to hear about your pet, Claire. Land Hermit crabs can live for quite a long time, ten years and potentially longer than that. Moulting and "shell seeking" is part of their natural behavior so it would be unlikely that this transition, alone, would be responsible for the death. They are, however, most vulnerable during this time to predation which was my original concern.>> Thanks again for your help. Claire <<I obviously wish I could have been a greater help to you and your Hermit, Claire. Clearly, there was something amiss that neither of us could have foreseen. Sorry once again. Tom>>

My Terrestrial Hermit Crab has lost a leg  7/29/07 Hello, I bought a hermit crab and brought him home a week ago. He was fine until he lost a leg. He is still alive and hardly moves (he can't walk). I spray him with dechlorinated water everyday and put him on top of some food. What should I do? David <Hi David. It doesn't sound like your Hermit Crab is feeling too well. Perhaps his home isn't as comfortable as it should be. Please reply with the following information: What is the substrate you use (sand, gravel)? What is the humidity of his environment? What is the temperature of the surface of the substrate? What is the temperature of the air? Do you use a heat pad under the tank or a light? Is the heat pad or light positioned on one half of the tank only? Do you provide fresh dechlorinated or spring water daily? Do you provide fresh food and remove the old daily? Do you provide different size shells for him to switch if need be? Hermit crabs generally need humidity of at least 70% and temperatures that do not drop below 72F. They enjoy company of their own kind and are known to travel in packs in the wild. You shouldn't spray them down EVERY single day. Once or twice a week will suffice. However, spraying keeps the humidity up so you CAN spray the substrate (sand, hopefully) every day, several times a day if need be. Regardless, if you provide him with all of his needs he can grow his leg back as he molts. So, as you can see, you've got some testing to do and perhaps some environmental concerns to alleviate if the results are less than satisfactory. For the time being, here is a link to help you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwcrustfaqs.htm Good luck and reply back if you need any more help. -Paul>

Re: My Hermit Crab has lost a leg 07/30/07 > <Hi David! Twothless here.> > Thanks but he died 3 hours after I emailed you- but please tell me what I should do for my other crab. <Aww, Sorry to hear that> > Answers to your questions: > What is the substrate you use (sand, gravel)? -Gravel. Should I use sand instead? <Yes, absolutely.> > What is the humidity of his environment? -I don't know. <Not good at all. Humidity/temperature gauges are very cheap, can be bought right where you bought your Hermit Crab and are easy to use. Just place it directly where you want to test the humidity and temperature and you'll have the reading within minutes.> > What is the temperature of the surface of the substrate?-I don't know <Again, not good. See answer above.> > What is the temperature of the air? -I don't know (the house temp is  generally 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) <I don't mean to sound like a broken record but, again, not good at all.> > Do you use a heat pad under the tank or a light? -No heat pad. I have a light but don't leave it on all the time <Some type of heating element must be employed to keep the environment at, or at the very least, close to, the recommended levels for your Hermit Crab. A very small heat pad stuck to the underside of one end of a ten gallon tank works very well. The heat pad only at one end will make that side of the tank warmer and give the hermit crab a choice of temperature gradients. Lighting isn't exactly necessary as ambient light from windows is plenty for them to see. If you DO use lighting, try to use a fluorescent conversion as it won't generate too much heat.> > Do you provide fresh dechlorinated or spring water daily? -Dechlorinated daily. <Good!, some folks actually provide a dish of fresh water AND a dish of salt water for them to soak in. The salt should never be aquarium salt or table salt though, only oceanic salt mixes.> > Do you provide fresh food and remove the old daily? -Every other day. <Good! They also like fresh fruits and veggies from time to time.> > Do you provide different size shells for him to switch if need be?-Yes. <Good!> > Tell me if I am doing anything wrong and what I should do differently! <It's all up above.> > Thanks! > David <Glad to help! Get started fixing up your Crabitat so that your remaining one will remain healthy. Perhaps another crab or two would help keep him company as well. Anyway, don't forget to read this entire page that I think will help provide a ton of answers for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwcrustfaqs.htm You can also use the WWM Search Feature on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm Good Luck with your Hermit Crab! -Twothless>

Re: My hermit crab has lost a leg 08/02/07 < Hi David! Twothless here> Thanks! Two more questions: How do you tell the difference between a male and female hermit crab? <Good question! You'll have to place the Hermit Crab into a clear container or a glass bowl and view it from underneath. When the Hermit Crab comes partly out of the shell to move around, look at its second pair of legs from the claws. At the base of these legs, a female will have a very small opening called gonopores. There will be one on each 2nd leg. No gonopores means its a male.> If I serve fruits and veggies, what do they like best and how do I serve them? <Hermit Crabs like flower petals such as Dandelions, Daisies, Hibiscus, Rose, Sunflower and probably more (Google or WWM Hermit Crab diet). They also need lots of protein. 50% of their diet should consist of proteins from eggs, Spirulina, beans, nuts, seeds. Spirulina is a favorite as it is easy to keep on hand in the form wafers. You should provide one or more of the following at least twice a week to provide much needed zeaxanthin: Orange bell pepper, Broccoli, Cilantro, Collards, Romaine Lettuce, Frozen Peas (served thawed and shelled). All of these foods are best served chopped-up into morsels small enough for the crab to handle them easily. Of course, store bought Hermit Crab feed is a good idea to offer regularly as well. Presumably, these blends contain much needed micronutrients and the like. Try to supplement their diets with reptile calcium powder that contains vitamin D3. Add a light sprinkling on their food a couple times a week. Again, try Googling Hermit Crab diet and other such keywords and you will instantly be inundated by websites containing MUCH more information than any one person or source could ever offer. Good Luck and Bon Appetite to your Hermit Crab/s!> Thanks! David <You're VERY welcome! I'm glad you are taking the initiative to correct your Crabitats shortcomings. - Twothless>

Re: My hermit crab has lost a leg 08/02/07 I updated my Crabitat today just as you recommended, but I have one problem. When I spray my crab, sand sticks to him. Is that a problem? <No. It shouldn't be a bother at all. I think you'll soon find that they really like to bury themselves, partially, into the sand when they sleep. So, sand sticking to them temporarily is of no consequence.> Thanks! David <You're very welcome. - Twothless>

Hermit crabs, human hlth.  5/1/08 Hi I just have a few quick questions. My daughter is very ill and can not be around any disease carrying pets someone suggested a hermit crab to her and she has been searching to see if she can have one. Do they carry any diseases that can be transmitted to humans? <Mmm, not unless the human is badly challenged immunity wise... some waste bacteria...> Are they expensive to take care of? <Mmm, no> I hope to hear form you soon. I would like to purchase a couple as soon as I know if they are safe for her because we don't know how much longer she will be with us and I want to give her what ever she wants but sometimes I can't. She is just recently without her dog due to this illness and now she just wants something she can love. Also if they are safe where is the most reputable place to buy them? I only have corporate pet stores near me like Pet smart and Pet co. <Some of these (due to individual staff) are excellent. I would visit, engage them in conversation... purchase a small book on Hermit husbandry, read it with your child. Oh, and do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hermitcrabfaqs.htm for some general care input> Thank you Valeri



Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: