What To Do If Your Hermit Crab Leaves Its Shell

Hermit Crab Leaves Its Shell

Last Updated on December 12, 2023 by Fumipets

What To Do If Your Hermit Crab Leaves Its Shell


If your hermit crab has abandoned its shell, it can be a concerning situation. Hermit crabs rely on their shells for protection, and leaving them can indicate stress, illness, or other issues. Here’s a quick guide on what to do in such a situation:

Hermit Crab

Hermit crabs’ treatment of their shells can be one of their prettiest characteristics. Have you ever seen a hermit crab preparing to exchange shells? Talk about teamwork: many crabs queue up and alternate trying on different-sized shells until they all find the right fit.

But what if you get home to discover one of your hermit crabs has broken out from its shell? Is that hazardous? Before you start to worry, let us show you how to help your hermit crab.

Shells Are Important

Hermit crabs love to hide in their shells, as anybody who has one can attest. Every time you move a little too quickly, they seem to reappear. You are aware of the significance of the feeling of security that their shell offers.

Without this barrier, its exoskeleton is exposed and very susceptible to environmental factors. Therefore, you may panic for a moment if you check on your crab and discover that it has left its shell.

But wait before you draw any quick assumptions. We’ll discuss why a hermit crab emerges from its shell and what you can do to assist it.

What Does a Shell Do?

The shell of the hermit crab acts as a barrier to save its delicate exoskeleton. They are not only shielded from harm, but their body is also kept from drying out. Your hermit crab is entirely exposed to heat, light, and air as it lacks a shell. Without it, they risk dying very soon.

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Crabs often emerge from their shell during molting. They will re-shell themselves after shedding their exoskeleton.

What Causes a Hermit Crab to Leave their Shell?

Hermit crabs may, surprisingly, escape their shell for a variety of reasons. The majority of them have to do with the environment, but it could also have to do with their health. In order to avoid it in the future, let’s look at why this occurs in the first place.

1. Stress

Unfortunately, hermit crabs may get quite ill during transportation and distribution to pet retailers. The hermit crab you bought can come out of its shell and die if it is really anxious.

Physical harm, shipping problems, and inadequate handling are all potential causes of this.

2. Shell Fighting

Shell warfare may develop if there are too few additional shelves to support various hermit crabs growing at different speeds. Hermit crabs will start to fight each other for their shell during this period, which may be quite deadly.

Another scenario is when a hermit crab leaves their shell in search of a better one, and another crab takes the one that was theirs. Your hermit is helpless without any shells that fit until you step in.

3. Irritation

Hermit crabs are a little exposed, thus their shells may get irritated by garbage and other things. It’s possible that the hermit crab is attempting to escape the bother by coming out of its shell. To ensure that the inside is clear of any minute particles, you must properly clean it.

4. Unsuitable Environment

Hermit crabs are quite perceptive to their surroundings. For them to be content, their cage has to be at the right temperature and humidity level. Other environmental elements are at play when it is too hot or cold, which makes them uncomfortable. In these circumstances, one might anticipate them coming out of their shell.

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Ectothermic animals like hermit crabs need a range of temperatures in their surroundings in order to self-regulate. They need a warm and a chilly side in their tank, much as many other cold-blooded animals do. Depending on their needs, people are free to travel between as they like.

85° F should not be exceeded at the hot end of the cage. The temperature on the cage’s cool side shouldn’t go below 70 °F. They must always have access to these two elements.

5. Death

Your pet hermit crab will eventually have to say farewell. They emerge from their shell as they pass. It could be difficult to pinpoint the specific cause, however it might be old age or an undiagnosed illness.

How to Get a Hermit Crab Back in the Shell

You need to be aware that this is a delicate operation before you try to place the hermit crab back inside its shell. Because of how delicate their bodies are, touching them may harm them and possibly be fatal. Therefore, it’s crucial to treat them properly.

The hermit crab may be softly picked up behind its rear legs or gently scooped with a spoon or other scoop before you do anything else. Check them carefully for any exterior injuries or anomalies. It’s time to start working on the shell if everything seems to be in order.

To get rid of any germs or dirt on or within the shell, boil the shell in dechlorinated water.

Find a container that will fit the crab and shell just right. More dechlorinated water should be added to the bottom to somewhat fill it up and cover the bottom. This will give your crab the moisture it needs to fit properly inside again.

Put the crab and shell in a container large enough to hold only those two items. Do not bother your crab while it is re-shelling since it may take some time. Just keep an eye on it visually.

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Molting Hermit Crabs

A molting crab is very fragile and sensitive during this time, so it would be best if you avoided handling one. Instead, lay the two-liter bottle’s bottom dome section on top of them. Place two acceptable shells in the container and puncture a few holes in the bottle for ventilation.

You must watch out for your crabs since they can attempt to dig through their substrate. If this occurs, use a scoop to pull the fish to the top without touching them by digging deeply into the substrate.

Don’t add any more water. The additional dampness is too much for its body to tolerate.

They will soon crawl back inside the shell once they have recovered their strength. It takes a lot of energy to molt, which makes your crab weak and exhausted. To ensure their safety, keep an eye on them constantly.


The main lesson to learn from this is to not panic. Remain composed and take the appropriate action as required. Owning hermit crabs, you can almost certainly expect this to occur at some time. You can help your crabs without hurting them or making the problem worse if you learn how to re-shell them.

Keep in mind not to touch them directly if they are molting. Create a modest sanctuary so that they can handle it on their own when the time comes.


Frequently Asked Questions


Why did the hermit crab leave its shell?

Observe the environment for potential stressors, such as improper temperature, humidity, or aggression from tank mates. Identifying the cause is crucial for addressing the issue.


Could illness be a factor?

Inspect your hermit crab for signs of illness, such as lethargy, abnormal behaviors, or unusual physical appearances. Illness can prompt a crab to abandon its shell as a distress response.


How can you encourage a shell change?

Offer a selection of appropriately sized, clean shells. Hermit crabs often change shells as they grow, and having options may entice them to find a more suitable home.


Are the tank conditions optimal?

Ensure that the tank’s temperature and humidity levels are within the recommended range. A well-maintained environment is essential for the overall well-being of hermit crabs.


When is it time to consult a veterinarian?

If your hermit crab continues to show signs of distress or refuses to enter a new shell, consulting a veterinarian with experience in exotic pets is advisable. Professional guidance can help address any underlying health issues.




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