Skip to Content

Why Is My Hermit Crab Upside Down? (4 Common Causes)

Why Is My Hermit Crab Upside Down? (4 Common Causes)

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

You love your pet hermit crab and you want to keep it in good health. These crabs are relatively low-maintenance pets that are good for beginners.

However, they can still encounter issues from time to time. Did you walk in on your hermit crab recently and notice that it was upside down?

This is something that might cause you to worry a little bit. Is it normal for hermit crabs to be on its back sometimes, or is this something that you should be concerned with?

Below, you’ll learn about what finding a hermit crab in this situation means. This information will help you to get to the bottom of it.

1 – The Hermit Crab Could Be Hiding or Protecting Itself

The hermit crab might simply be hiding to protect itself. Sometimes hermit crabs will need to protect themselves from threats.

When living in captivity, hermit crabs will sometimes fight each other. This usually isn’t anything to worry about, but it can be a problem sometimes.

The most common thing that will cause two hermit crabs to fight is a shell. One hermit crab might want another hermit crab’s shell, and it’ll be willing to fight to get it.

Occasionally, hermit crabs might try to hide to protect themselves from invading hermit crabs. The crab might flip on its back to try to get deeper into the shell and out of the reach of the other crab.

Another option is that the shell might be flipped upside down so the hermit crab can escape faster. Either way, it could easily have to do with the hermit crab fighting with another crab.

2 – Could the Hermit Crab Have Fallen Off of Something?

Have you considered whether the hermit crab fell off of something? Hermit crabs love to climb, and it’s something that they do while playing.

Sometimes hermit crabs might fall from the objects that they’re climbing. For example, a hermit crab might fall off of a pile of rocks that you placed in the tank.

When this happens, it might cause the hermit crab to flip on its back. The hermit crab simply might have stayed in this position and fallen asleep.

While this might seem odd, it’s something that does occur from time to time. Hermit crabs might climb and then fall down due to falling asleep.

After landing upside down, it might simply choose to stay in this position and take a nap. It might very well be just fine and it’ll flip over and continue normal activity soon enough.

It’s also possible that the hermit crab could be injured, though. A fall has the potential to harm the hermit crab.

Check the hermit crab for injuries to see if it needs medical attention. If all seems well, you don’t have any reason to worry.

3 – Is the Hermit Crab Stuck?

Another weird thing that can happen involves the hermit crab getting stuck between two objects. Hermit crabs carry their shells with them everywhere they go.

Sometimes these shells might get stuck between two objects. For example, a hermit crab might try to walk past two rocks and get stuck between the rocks.

This could lead to the hermit crab getting turned upside down as it attempts to free itself. Sometimes hermit crabs simply misjudge the space between two objects and get stuck like this.

It’s also worth noting that hermit crabs get scared fairly easily. Noises or lights could cause a hermit crab to run and hide.

While it’s scurrying away, it might make an error in judgment and get stuck upside down. If this happens, simply help the hermit crab get unstuck and everything will be fine once more.

You might want to rearrange things in the tank so the hermit crab will be less likely to get stuck. Try not to position objects in such a way that the hermit crab will be able to get stuck between them.

4 – Molting

Of course, hermit crabs are well-known for molting. Molting is something that your hermit crab will do many times in its life.

When a hermit crab is molting, it’s going to burrow into the sand. It’ll appear to be upside down during this time.

If you’ve owned hermit crabs for a while, it’s likely that you know what molting looks like. Those who are new should know that molting is a normal thing.

Molting is a stressful time for hermit crabs. During this process, hermit crabs can die if they become startled.

You’re supposed to leave hermit crabs alone while they’re molting. Don’t bother the crab; simply let it do what it’s doing.

How Can You Tell When a Hermit Crab is Molting?

It’s pretty easy to tell when a hermit crab is preparing to molt. You’ll notice that it will start acting a bit differently than usual.

Typically, hermit crabs will start eating and drinking more than normal two weeks before the molting process begins. It’s good to give hermit crabs more food than normal when they’re getting ready to molt since it helps them to survive the process.

When examining the eyes of the hermit crab, you’ll notice that it’ll have a glazed-over look. The eyes look much duller than normal when they’re getting ready to molt.

The hermit crab’s exoskeleton will also change. It’ll start to look gray and it’ll be a lot duller than what you’re used to seeing.

Finally, you’ll start noticing the hermit crab digging more often. When hermit crabs start preparing the sand, they’re getting ready to burrow and molt.

Is the Hermit Crab Dead?

If your hermit crab has been upside down for a long time, you might be worried that it has died. This could be the case, but don’t jump to conclusions if the hermit crab is molting.

When hermit crabs are molting, you need to leave them be. Otherwise, you might accidentally kill the crab for real.

If the hermit crab doesn’t appear to be molting, it’s fine to check the crab. Does it appear to be breathing at all?

Usually, when hermit crabs die, the smell will be the first sign. It smells sort of like rotten fish when hermit crabs perish.

Should you smell this terrible scent, it might be a sign that your hermit crab has passed on. You’ll have to get rid of the body and clean the tank.

It’s also best to remove and replace the sand that was touching the dead hermit crab. Dispose of the sand properly.

Can Hermit Crabs Flip Over On Their Own?

Hermit crabs can indeed flip over on their own. You don’t usually have to help hermit crabs get back on their feet when they’re flipped over.

This could be different if the hermit crab is stuck, though. When the crab is stuck between two objects, it’s likely going to need your help.

Of course, it’s fine to turn the crab over if you want to. Just do so gently and try not to make fast motions since that will frighten the crab.

Also, watch out for any other crabs in the tank. It’s possible that there could be a crab underneath the upside-down crab that you can’t see.

Give the hermit crab some time to get back on its feet. It’ll likely flip itself over and it won’t be a big deal.

How Long Do Hermit Crabs Live?

It’s common for hermit crabs to live for a pretty long time. Many types of hermit crabs can live for decades.

Some hermit crabs are known to live for up to thirty years in the wild. In captivity, hermit crabs often live much shorter lives.

However, they still have the potential to live for decades in a home habitat. It all depends on how well you care for them.

Providing hermit crabs with an ideal habitat and good care will keep them alive for as long as possible. This will give you a chance to enjoy your hermit crab for many years.

If you do your best, your hermit crab might even live for multiple decades. Those who do poor jobs caring for their hermit crabs will often have hermit crabs die within a few years.

Final Thoughts

Learning about hermit crabs being upside down should set your mind at ease. You know that this can happen for a number of different reasons now.

It’s not too unusual for hermit crabs to be upside down. They will sometimes get into this position by accident due to falling off of an object in the tank.

Since hermit crabs love to climb, it makes sense that this might occur from time to time. The crab should be able to flip over on its own.

Sometimes crabs might even get stuck between two objects. It could get flipped upside down when this happens.

You might need to help the crab when it gets stuck like this. Try to position objects differently to keep this from happening in the future.

Crabs will go upside down when they’re hiding or trying to protect themselves, too. It could be hiding from another crab.

Molting causes crabs to dig into the sand and go upside down. Don’t worry about this and leave the crab alone.

Do your best to care for your crab and things should be fine. If the crab dies, you’ll have to dispose of the body, but being upside down doesn’t necessarily mean that your crab is dead.