Pet hermit crabs are becoming more and more common. They’re good pets because they’re fairly simple to take care of.
They don’t take up too much space, and most people can learn how to care for hermit crabs well. When compared to many other types of pets, hermit crabs are very low maintenance.
Despite this, things can go wrong when caring for these pets. If your hermit crab isn’t eating, you’re likely going to be worried that you’re making mistakes.
What causes a hermit crab to stop eating? Can you do something to get it to start eating again?
Continue reading to learn about hermit crabs and the reasons why they might stop eating. This will help you to determine what’s going on in your situation.
1 – It Could Be Related to Molting
Sometimes problems with eating can be related to molting. If you’re a new hermit crab owner, you might not fully understand the molting process yet.
You see, hermit crabs dig into the sand and bury themselves when they molt. They’re going to molt many times throughout their lives.
This occurs when the crabs need to grow. Hermit crabs grow, but their exoskeletons do not grow with them.
They must shed their exoskeletons and grow new ones. The molting process allows them to grow new exoskeletons.
This is a process that can take weeks or even well over a month. It just depends on how things go.
When the hermit crab is molting, it isn’t going to be taking food like normal. It’s going to be motionless and you might even wonder whether the crab has died.
Worry not, because molting is a normal and healthy thing. However, disturbing a molting hermit crab can be dangerous.
Hermit crabs are very vulnerable when they’re molting. A molting hermit crab that gets disturbed might be so shocked that it will die.
So you need to leave it alone during this time. Let the hermit crab do what it needs to do and don’t disturb it.
There are signs that a hermit crab is about to start molting that you can look out for. Usually, the crab will start eating more in preparation for the molting process.
Its eyes will develop a glazed-over look. You might see the hermit crab start to spill water on the substrate purposefully, and it’ll start digging more often.
You’ll get better at recognizing molting as you gain experience. If it sounds like your pet hermit crab is just molting right now, you don’t have anything to worry about.
2 – Is Your Hermit Crab New to the Tank?
It’s also true that hermit crabs that are new to the tank won’t always want to eat right away. You see, hermit crabs are going to be rather wary of the situation when first arriving.
The journey of being plucked from a pet store and then taken to your home is stressful. This causes the hermit crab to have its guard up during the first few days and weeks of being under your care.
The hermit crab is going to need a bit of time to become comfortable. Eventually, it should come to trust you and see you as someone who provides food and care.
While the hermit crab is adjusting, it’s important to offer food daily. Continue trying to feed the crab and ensure that you’re giving it high-quality recommended foods.
Eventually, the hermit crab should start taking the food. Simply don’t bother the hermit crab too much and let it adjust at its own pace.
If it doesn’t take food for the first several days, it’s likely that things will be fine. Your pet should become comfortable, and it’ll begin to eat normally soon enough.
3 – Could You Have Not Noticed That the Crab is Eating?
This might sound strange at first, but it could be that the crab is eating without you noticing. Could it be that you simply haven’t noticed when the crab is eating?
Hermit crabs don’t eat a lot of food each day. Since they don’t eat a lot, some new hermit crab owners become concerned that they aren’t eating.
Typically, hermit crabs only consume around one tablespoon of food each day. Being that they don’t eat a lot, it’d be easy to overlook such a small amount of food being gone.
There’s also the fact that hermit crabs are nocturnal. They’re more active during the evening and the night.
Your pet hermit crab could be eating its food during the night. That might explain why you’re not noticing that the crab has been eating.
You may need to pay close attention to see whether the crab is actually eating. One method is to flatten the substrate near the food dish to see if the hermit crab is going near it.
It’ll cause the hermit crab to leave tracks, and you can have a better idea of what’s going on. Also, you can try to simply be more observant when it comes to whether any of the food is gone now that you know that hermit crabs only eat small amounts of food daily.
4 – Is Your Hermit Crab a Picky Eater?
Have you considered whether your hermit crab is a picky eater or not? Some hermit crab owners have noted that they have hermit crabs that are picky about what they eat.
Generally, hermit crabs aren’t supposed to be picky. They’re omnivores that scavenge what food they can when found in the wild.
Even so, hermit crabs can be picky sometimes. You might want to try offering it a different type of food to see if it’ll eat for you.
Perhaps the hermit crab is bored with the food that you’re giving it. It’s said that hermit crabs don’t like to eat the same thing too many times in a row.
It’s recommended to avoid feeding hermit crabs the same thing more than once or twice in a row. Try mixing things up and vary the food options more.
Something as simple as this might be what you need to do to get the crab to eat. It’s well worth trying if you’re sure that your hermit crab isn’t eating enough.
5 – There Isn’t Enough Sand
Not having enough sand in the tank will be very stressful for a hermit crab. It’s imperative to get the substrate level just right so the hermit crabs can thrive.
Exactly how much sand you’ll need will depend on the size of the hermit crabs. Larger hermit crabs are going to need more sand.
If you have a big crab that’s a bit older, you should have a substrate that is around ten inches deep. Smaller crabs will likely be fine with around five inches of sand in the tank.
It’s said that the sand should be around three times as deep as the hermit crab is large. So you can use this simple formula to figure out what an appropriate substrate level will be.
Never make your hermit crab stressed by not providing it with enough sand. Being able to dig into the sand is an essential part of life for these creatures.
6 – Is the Habitat Too Cool?
Hermit crabs aren’t going to do well if you put them in habitats that are too cool. These creatures live in warm conditions in the wild, and they will need you to keep their tank warm enough so they can survive.
If you place a hermit crab in a habitat that is too cool, it’ll cause it to have digestion issues. Both digestion and appetite can be impacted when the tank is cooler than it should be.
You should be using some type of heater to keep the tank temperature in the right range. If you don’t, it might become too cool in the tank periodically.
Continued tank temperature issues can negatively impact the health of hermit crabs. They will begin eating less than usual and they might even get seriously sick.
To get good results, you’re supposed to keep the hermit crab’s tank at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s easy enough to accomplish this using a standard heating bulb.
Remember that you don’t want the habitat to get too hot either. The temperature in the tank should never exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hermit crabs will dry out if exposed to temperatures that are too hot. This is dangerous because these creatures won’t be able to breathe normally if their gills can’t stay moist.
7 – Problems with Humidity
Getting the humidity level right in the tank is also important. Above, you learned that hermit crabs can’t breathe if they don’t have moist gills.
You might suspect that humidity will play an important role in the safety of the habitat. Having the humidity level high enough is another part of ensuring that the crab can maintain proper gill moisture.
This is because hermit crabs have modified gills. They allow them to breathe oxygen on land, but to do so, the gills must stay moist.
For hermit crabs to continue breathing normally, the humidity in the tank must stay between 75% and 80%. You can use a humidifier to get this done.
Although, some hermit crab owners use other methods to keep the tank humid. For instance, you could mist the tank daily to add humidity to the air.
Bubblers can also do a good job of raising the humidity level. Whatever you decide to use, it’s wise to buy a hygrometer so you can keep tabs on the humidity level and make adjustments as necessary.
8 – Is Your Hermit Crab Stressed?
Many different things can cause hermit crabs to become stressed. You might not be aware of this, but these pets don’t like being put in noisy environments.
If you put a hermit crab in a rather loud room, it’s going to become stressed. For instance, you might have the hermit crab habitat in a room where you play music loudly or it might be too close to a television.
Being near certain other pets can cause hermit crabs stress, too. For example, a hermit crab might get scared if a cat is in the same room.
These pets can become afraid of dogs as well. Of course, dogs can also be loud because they often bark at things.
It could be that your crab is stressed for one reason or another. Do your best to determine whether your crab is stressed and then eliminate sources of stress to try to get it to eat normally again.
9 – Is Your Hermit Crab Sick?
Perhaps the hermit crab is sick in some way. When hermit crabs get sick, they might lose their appetite.
A hermit crab that has become ill might not have much of an appetite. There could be several things wrong.
Check the conditions of the tank and see if anything is amiss. If something is off, make the necessary adjustments.
Try to determine if your hermit crab is dealing with pests. Mites can be very problematic for hermit crabs, but you might have trouble seeing them without a magnifying glass.
Of course, you can ask for the assistance of an exotic veterinarian if you need it. This will allow you to diagnose the crab if you’re not sure what’s wrong.
You should have a much better understanding of what’s going on with your hermit crab now. There are many potential reasons why hermit crabs might stop eating.
The crab could simply be stressed or sick. If this is the case, you’ll need to solve certain problems to get the crab to eat again.
Sometimes you’ll need to address issues with humidity in the tank. The lack of appetite could also be related to issues with the temperature in the habitat.
Do your best to troubleshoot based on the information above. This will give you the best chance to protect your pet hermit crab and ensure that it gets better soon.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.