Is Your Hermit Crab Leaving Its Shell? Here’s What To Do!

One of the funniest things about hermit crabs is probably the way they treat their shells. Have you ever seen what happens when a hermit crab is ready to change its shell? Several crabs lined up, taking turns trying out scallops to size until they all fit—talk about teamwork!

But what happens when you come home to find one of your hermit crabs popping out of their shell? Is this dangerous? Before you panic, let us help you figure out how to help your hermit crab.

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Shells Are Very Important

If you own hermit crabs, you know how much fun they have to hide in their shells. It seems like every time you move a little too fast—they just pop right back up. So you know how important the sense of security their shell provides.

Without this protective layer, the exoskeleton is exposed and very vulnerable to the outside elements. So, if you go in to check on your crabs and find that they have come out of their shells, you might panic for a moment.

But don’t jump to conclusions just yet. We’ll explain why hermit crabs leave their shells and what you can do to help them come back.

What Does Shell Do?

hermit crab without shell

Your hermit crab’s shell provides a protective barrier around its sensitive exoskeleton. It not only protects them from damage, but also prevents their bodies from drying out. Without a shell, your hermit crab is completely susceptible to heat, light and air. They can quickly die without it.

Crabs usually leave their shells when molting. Once they remove their exoskeleton, they will make their own shell.

What Causes Hermit Crab To Leave Its Shell?

Surprisingly, hermit crabs can leave their shells for several reasons. Most of them are environmental, but it may also have something to do with their health. Let’s take a look at why this happened in the first place so you can prevent it in the future.

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1. Emphasize

Unfortunately, during shipping and distribution of hermit crabs to pet stores, they can make crabs very unhealthy. If the hermit crabs you buy are very stressed, it can cause them to come out of their shells to die.

This can occur due to physical damage, shipping problems, and improper maintenance.


2. Shell Battle

hermit crab

If you have several hermit crabs growing at different rates, but you don’t have enough extra shelves to accommodate them, this can lead to shell battles. This process occurs when the hermit crabs will start fighting with each other for their shell, which can be very dangerous.

It can also happen when hermit crabs leave their shells in search of a more suitable one, and others steal the ones they use. Without a suitable shell, your hermit is out of luck until you intervene.


3. Disturbance

Hermit crabs are exposed a bit and can get dirt and other irritants in the shell. It could be that the hermit crab is trying to get rid of its irritation by getting out of its shell. You need to clean the inside properly to make sure it is free of small particles.


4. Inappropriate environment

hand carrying hermit crab without shell

Hermit crabs are very sensitive to their environment. They need the right level of humidity and temperature in their cage to be happy. If it’s too hot or cold, other environmental factors come into play that make them uncomfortable. Coming out of the shell is to be expected in this scenario.

Hermit crabs are ectothermic, meaning they need a wide range of temperatures in their environment to self-regulate. Like many other cold-blooded creatures, they need a warm and cool side of the aquarium. They can move freely between them as they wish, depending on what they need.

The hot end of the cage must not exceed 85°F. The cold side of the cage must not drop below 70°F. Both of these components must be available at all times.

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5. Dead

At some point, your beloved hermit crab will have to say goodbye. When they pass, they fall out of their shells. It can be difficult to explain exactly what happened, but it could be due to age or an undetected disease.

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How to Get Hermit Crab Back in Shell

Note: If your hermit crab is molting, skip this section and read the next subtitle.

the person holding the hermit crab

Before you try to put hermit crabs back in their shells, you should understand that this is a sensitive process. Their bodies are very fragile, so handling them can damage them and even lead to death. So it is very important to handle them properly.

Before you do anything else, gently lift the hermit crab behind its hind legs or scoop it up gently with a spoon or other spoon. Examine them thoroughly to check for any external wounds or abnormalities. If everything looks as it should, it’s time to work on the shell.

Boil the shells in non-chlorinated water to remove any bacteria or debris on or inside the shells.

Prepare a container large enough to hold the crab and shell. Put more dechlorinated water on the bottom to fill it up a bit—just enough to cover the bottom. This will allow your crab to have the moisture it needs to comfortably re-enter.

Place the crab and shell in a container large enough to fit the two objects. Monitor it visually, but don’t disturb your crab—it may take a while for the crab to return to skinning.

Molting Hermit Crab

It’s best if you don’t handle molting crabs, as they are very delicate and sensitive at this time. Instead, use the bottom dome of the two-liter bottle to place on top. Make a few holes in the bottle for ventilation and place the two suitable shells in the container with it.

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You should keep an eye on your grumpy, as they may try to dig into the substrate. If this happens, take a spoon and dig deeper into the substrate to lift it to the surface without touching it.

Do not add extra water. His body wasn’t in the right shape to handle the excess moisture.

Soon, once they regained their strength, they would climb back into the shell. Molting requires a lot of energy, leaving your crab very tired and vulnerable. Make sure to watch them often to make sure they are safe.

Hermit crab

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Final Thoughts

The biggest takeaway here is don’t panic. Stay calm and respond to the situation as needed. If you have hermit crabs, this was very likely at one point. Learning how to re-peel crabs will allow you to help them without harming or making the situation worse.

Remember, if they are molting, don’t handle them directly. Just make a little shelter so they can do it themselves when the time comes.

Looking for more hermit crab readings? Try:

  • Do Hermit Crabs Make Good Pets? (Honest Answer)
  • How Much Does Owning a Hermit Crab Cost (in 2021)?

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Featured Image Credit: Tereshchenko Dmitry, Shutterstock