Hermit crabs are unique household pets that are relatively easy to take care of. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about them is watching them molt.
As fun as they may be, however, taking care of them the right way is vital for their survival.
There are a lot of things that can cause a hermit crab to die, so it’s important to do as much research on them as possible before getting one.
How Can Hermit Crabs Die?
Unfortunately, many hermit crabs die while in captivity because their owners aren’t taking care of them properly. They are incredibly sensitive to their environment, which means that they need to be kept in a temperature- and humidity-controlled tank.
If hermit crabs get too hot, they will die. On the other hand, if they dry out due to lack of humidity, they will also die. Hermit crabs also need water to survive. Some require salt water, while others require fresh water.
It is imperative that you do not give your hermit crab tap water, as chlorine and other chemicals that are present in the water can be toxic to the hermit crab. If your hermit crab requires salt water, be sure that you don’t try to make your own using regular table salt, as this can kill your hermit crab as well.
While on the topic of water, make sure that the water bowl you provide them with isn’t too deep or you could risk your hermit crab accidentally drowning in it.
The type of food that you feed your hermit crabs can also be a potential danger to your hermit crabs. Although they are omnivores, meaning that they eat both meat and vegetables, there are still certain foods that shouldn’t be fed to them.
Onions and citrus, for example, are not good for hermit crabs, as well as even some hermit crab food that is found in pet stores. This is because a lot of times, this food is made using a pesticide called ethoxyquin that can help preserve the food but can be deadly for hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs also need a decent amount of calcium in their diets and not getting enough of it can be devastating to them. You can purchase calcium supplements at a pet store if you don’t think that your hermit crab is getting enough of it via their food supply.
Although hermit crabs don’t get cleaned in the wild, it’s important that as their owner, you keep their terrariums clean and free of any bacteria that could kill your hermit crab.
Make sure that you are constantly clearing their tanks of any old food and feces that could contribute to an unhealthy environment for your hermit crab.
Your hermit crab’s tank should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a month, but be sure that you are using only water as soap contains harmful chemicals in it that won’t be good for your hermit crab.
If you believe that your hermit crab is ill, you can purchase antibiotic treatments to give them.
What Should I Feed My Hermit Crab?
Many people who get hermit crabs as pets have no idea where to start in terms of what to feed them. When in the wild, hermit crabs will eat decaying wood, fruit, grass, and seaweed. At home, however, a hermit crab’s diet might look completely different.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and various sources of protein are all good things to feed your hermit crab. Hermit crabs require a good amount of calcium, carotene, and antioxidants in their diet in order to stay healthy.
Hermit crabs need carotene to keep their color; otherwise, they will turn from a bright orange to a dark grey.
The best way to make sure that your crabs are getting the carotene they need is to be sure to feed them fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored. As mentioned earlier, crabs aren’t picky eaters and will be just as satisfied with a piece of bark or leaves found outside. Just be sure to clean the leaves and bark off first before feeding it to them.
In terms of fruits, hermit crabs enjoy tropical fruits such as mangoes, papaya, and coconut. Be sure to cut up the fruit into small pieces for them to eat.
How Can You Tell When a Hermit Crab Is Molting?
Oftentimes, people may confuse a dead hermit crab for one that is simply molting. This is because when hermit crabs molt, they can appear to be limp and lifeless. However, the molting process is simply just lengthy and is comprised of several stages.
When hermit crabs molt, they are shedding their exoskeletons and waiting for the hardening of their new ones. The bigger the crab is, the longer the shedding process will take. For the most part, however, the molting process takes anywhere between four to eight weeks.
Be sure to leave your hermit crab undisturbed during the molting process. Don’t try to pick them up as you can easily pull off their appendages.
You can always tell when a crab is preparing to molt because they will spend the days leading up to the molt digging and eating more than they usually would. Your hermit crab may also start losing limbs prior to the molting process. However, they will grow back.
The best way to tell whether or not your hermit crab is dead or simply molting is to look closely. Upon closer inspection, you’ll be able to see twitches coming from your pet that indicate that it is still alive.
Under no circumstances should you pick up or touch your hermit crab while it is molting as this can be dangerous to them.
A molting hermit crab will also bury itself in the ground or have its body partially out of its shell. The best way to tell if your hermit crab is still alive without actually touching it is to see if there are any track marks leading to the hole. If there are, chances are that your hermit crab is still very much alive.
Hermit crabs will leave their hole at night in order to look for food, and will re-enter it during the day. Be sure to leave food out for them.
If you stop seeing the tracks around the hole, be sure to sweep away some of the sand from where your hermit crab is buried to check and see if it’s still moving around inside.
If your hermit crab happens to be molting with another hermit crab in the tank, be sure to keep them apart from one another. Without its shell, a molting hermit crab can be incredibly vulnerable.
The only way to tell whether or not your hermit crab is dead is by looking for the obvious signs. If you notice a foul odor coming from the tank, chances are that it is your crab deteriorating. Their body will also turn black and start to grow mold on it.
If there are other hermit crabs in the tank, make sure to remove the body of the dead hermit crab as quickly as possible; otherwise, you risk the other crab getting an infection from the bacteria of the dead hermit crab.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.