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Why Isn’t My Hermit Crab Moving?

Why Isn’t My Hermit Crab Moving?

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are a lot of people who like to keep hermit crabs as pets because of how interesting and cool they are. It’s likely that you love your hermit crab a lot, and this is why it’s going to be shocking to find that your hermit crab isn’t moving.

What does it mean when your hermit crab has stopped moving completely? Well, there are a few things that can be happening, and it’s very possible that your hermit crab could be sick in some way.

Read on to get information about hermit crabs and why they might stop moving. This should give you the information you need to start figuring out what to do.

Take the time to read through the possibilities so that you can get a better grasp of what is going on. Once you know more, it’ll be a lot easier to make a decision about what you can do to help your hermit crab friend.


One thing to consider before going further is that your hermit crab could actually be molting. There have been cases where hermit crab owners assumed that their hermit crabs weren’t moving when they were actually molting.

In case you aren’t aware, molting is a process where hermit crabs will shed their exoskeletons so that they can create new ones. Essentially, as hermit crabs get older, they’re going to need larger exoskeletons that will be appropriate for larger bodies.

When a hermit crab molts, it will usually try to build up water so that it can split its shell. However, there are also some hermit crabs that bury themselves in the sand when they are molting.

If your hermit crab isn’t moving, then you might want to check to see if it is molting. When this is the case, there isn’t really going to be any reason to worry at all.

Those who are new to keeping hermit crabs will likely not know much about them yet, and this might be why the molting caught you off guard. Of course, most veteran hermit crab owners will not mistake molting for something more serious or problematic.

If you have been able to determine that molting is not the issue, then you should definitely keep reading. There are other potential causes of hermit crabs not moving that need to be explored.


Some people say that hermit crabs can stop moving due to depression and there are some signs that this might be true. For example, you will often see hermit crab owners keep multiple hermit crabs in one habitat.

If one of the hermit crabs was to pass away, then that could have an impact on the other hermit crab. You could find that your hermit crab might be despondent or it might stop moving.

Generally, people consider hermit crabs to be very resilient when it comes to situations such as this. However, there are some hermit crab owners that have reported situations just like this where their hermit crabs stopped moving for long periods of time.

As for what you can do to help, it’s going to be up to you to decide what is best. You might think that getting other hermit crabs might make a difference, but this won’t always be the case.

Keep in mind that there could be another issue going on that you are not aware of, too. It’s going to be best to remain vigilant and check for signs of illness.

There are a lot of things that you are going to have to look out for, and knowing how to check for certain signs will make a difference. Read on to get the information about hermit crab illnesses as well as what you can do to help your hermit crab.

Check for Physical Signs That Your Crab Might Be Ill

There is the possibility that your hermit crab might show some physical signs that it is ill. It isn’t very common for hermit crabs to get sick, but this doesn’t mean that you can rule it out.

One of the more common situations involves the hermit crab becoming too dry. When you first get a hermit crab, you’re likely going to hear about how you need to change its water often.

You see, hermit crabs require a lot of water so that they can keep their skin moist. In nature, these hermit crabs are always going to be near bodies of water, and they’re going to stay very moist because of where they live.

If you’re going to keep a hermit crab as a pet, then you need to keep the crab from drying out by providing it with an ample amount of water. Otherwise, your hermit crab won’t even be able to breathe properly.

Looking for signs of dry skin is going to be important here so that you can determine what’s going on. You should be able to visually tell that a hermit crab has dry skin if you’re able to examine its body.

This might be hard to do if it won’t come out of its shell, but do your best to observe the hermit crab to get the information that you need. Once you’ve confirmed that your hermit crab has dry skin, then you’re going to need to think about why this is happening.

The causes of dry skin in hermit crabs are usually linked to a lack of water, but there are other potential issues. For instance, your hermit crab could be having to burrow to try to get to moist spots in its habitat.

Excessive burrowing can lead to dry skin, and this could be causing your hermit crab to not move as much as it should. In all likelihood, you’ll be able to fix this issue by providing your hermit crab with more moisture in its environment.

Take the Time to Smell the Tank

Taking the time to smell the tank can also give you a lot more information. Certain types of odors are going to be a clear indication that something is wrong with your hermit crab.

If the hermit crab’s habitat smells like fish, rotting food, or mildew, then that is definitely a bad sign. These smells could be coming from the hermit crab itself, or it could mean that there is something up with the hermit crab habitat itself.

Sadly, there is the possibility that your hermit crab could already be dead if it isn’t moving at all. In this case, there is obviously nothing that you can do except decide what you’re going to do with the remains.

If the hermit crab is obviously still alive, then it could very well be quite sick. You might need to make changes to the habitat or figure out what type of illness is impacting the hermit crab so that you can help it.

Mites Can Cause Problems

One of the most common problems that hermit crabs will encounter will be issues with mites. Mites can cause hermit crabs a lot of trouble, and they can be very dangerous to the health of hermit crabs.

You are going to want to be aware of the dangers posed by mites if you are going to continue to keep hermit crabs. Sadly, it can be a bit tough to figure the mite situation out with hermit crabs.

There are actually mites that are considered to be “good” that won’t pose any threat to your hermit crab. However, there are also “bad” mites that will be very harmful.

Learning to identify the mites is going to involve using a magnifying glass to see what is going on. When you examine your crab under a magnifying glass, it should become possible to see the mites in question. There are two types of harmful mites that you need to be on the lookout for. These are known as gill mites and crab mites.

Gill mites can be identified by looking for mites that are light pink or red in nature. Often, these mites will be buried in the gills of hermit crabs, and this is the reason for the way that they are named.

Crab mites will seemingly glue themselves to different parts of hermit crabs’ bodies. They can be white, cream, gray, pink, or red, and you’ll find them in areas such as the mouth, eyes, and joints.

What to Do If a Hermit Crab Is Sick

If you have finally been able to make the determination that your hermit crab is sick in some way, then it’s going to be safer to isolate the hermit crab. Keep it away from any other hermit crabs that you might have so that they won’t experience the same problems.

Your sick crab can get healthy again over time, and you can observe the crab to see how it is doing. Once the crab has become healthy again, it’ll be possible to move it back to its normal habitat with other hermit crabs.

Of course, you cannot move a hermit crab that is molting because that is going to kill it. If the hermit crab is molting, then you have no choice but to leave it alone, and this is why it’s so important to know the difference between molting and other issues.

If you think that mites are the cause of your hermit crab’s health issues, then you can get rid of them with a simple bath. Bathing a hermit crab using dechlorinated water can work wonders, but you should ensure that the water is tepid.

Be careful when doing this so that you don’t cause the hermit crab undue stress. There is another option to get rid of mites that involves using other mites, and this might work better for some. Mites known as Hypoaspis will actually eat the bad mites that have infested your habitat. This could be a less stressful option for your hermit crab than bathing it, and it’s certainly worth considering.

It’s also worth noting that you should clean the hermit crab’s habitat thoroughly. When you change the water in a habitat regularly, it will help to prevent issues that can pop up, but cleaning might be necessary if you encounter problems.

Take the time to clean any toys that are in the habitat using some type of mild soap. Replace the sand in the habitat with new sand and then use fresh water for your hermit crab.

Finally, if you suspect illness, it’s going to be wise to get the opinion of a veterinarian. Veterinarians who have experience helping hermit crabs will be able to tell what is going on with your hermit crab.

If you’re at a loss for what to do, then the simplest answer will be to call the veterinarian to see what is up. You will definitely want to have a veterinarian who knows how to help hermit crabs if you plan to keep them as pets.

Stress Can Also Cause Hermit Crabs to Stop Moving

Sometimes hermit crabs will simply stop moving because they are feeling stressed out. There could be various things that might cause hermit crabs more stress than usual, and you should think about recent changes that occurred.

The issue of depression was brought up earlier, and that can easily fall under this category as well. If a hermit crab loses a companion, then that could cause it enough stress to make it want to stop moving.

However, stress isn’t limited to something such as that, and there are other things that can cause a hermit crab to feel extreme stress. Even something as simple as handling your hermit crab could be causing it to feel stress that makes it respond by not moving.

Under normal circumstances, hermit crabs are going to be quite active creatures that like to play. If it isn’t moving and it doesn’t appear to be due to sickness, then it’s most likely a stress-related event.

Trying to do things to get your crab to move or come out of its shell could be causing it to feel further stress. Some hermit crab owners have reported doing things such as blowing on the crab or poking it.

Actions such as this are going to amplify stress, and they definitely won’t help your hermit crab to start moving again. You really should just try to avoid touching your hermit crab, and leaving it alone is probably going to be the best course of action.

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