You want to do your best to keep your hermit crab in good shape. Hermit crabs are pets that many people adore, and they’re supposed to be fairly easy to care for.
They’re certainly not difficult to take care of once you get the hang of things. It’s still possible for things to go wrong, though.
Has your hermit crab recently stopped moving? If your hermit crab is completely still, you might be concerned that it has died.
What does it mean when a hermit crab stops moving? Read on to learn about all of the possibilities.
Hermit Crab in Shell Not Moving
Is your hermit crab still in its shell? If your crab is not moving and it’s still in the shell, it could mean several different things.
Below, you’ll learn about some reasons why hermit crabs will stop moving. This should help you to better understand what’s going on.
1 – The Hermit Crab Could Be Molting
Molting is something that hermit crabs do many times in their lives. On average, hermit crabs will molt once every twelve to eighteen months.
The molting process occurs because hermit crabs grow larger over time. As a hermit crab grows, it’s going to outgrow its current exoskeleton.
Exoskeletons don’t grow along with the hermit crab. So hermit crabs must shed their exoskeletons and then grow new ones by molting.
This is a process that takes quite some time. It’s common for hermit crabs to bury themselves in the sand and molt for weeks at a time.
It could be that the hermit crab will remain motionless in the sand for weeks or even months. You need to leave the hermit crab alone during this time.
Bothering molting hermit crabs is not a good idea. It could wind up causing them to die.
Hermit crabs get very shocked when you try to interact with them while they’re molting. You’re not supposed to disturb them at all until they emerge from the sand.
It’s easy to get worried about the hermit crab during this time. You simply must be patient and wait for the crab to finish molting.
2 – Sickness
Could your hermit crab be sick in some way? Hermit crabs can get sick like many other types of pets.
There are many things that can make hermit crabs sick. It could be that the conditions in the tank aren’t quite right.
Both the humidity percentage and the temperature need to be monitored in hermit crab habitats. You’re supposed to use humidifiers and heaters to keep things in the right range.
The humidity in the tank needs to stay close to 80%. It’s not easy to make the habitat humid enough if you’re not using a humidifier or a fogger of some sort.
When the temperature gets too cool or too hot, it’ll cause problems for your crab. The temperature in the tank is supposed to remain between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature is cooler than the recommended range, it could stress the crab and make it sick. This is something you want to avoid.
You should also know that exposing hermit crabs to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous. This has the potential to outright kill the crab.
Hot temperatures will make it easier for the crab to dry out, and that might cause it to suffocate. This goes back to the reason why hermit crabs need to live in humid environments.
Hermit crabs have modified gills. These gills make it possible for them to breathe oxygen.
To work properly, it’s imperative for the gills to remain moist. This can only happen when the environment is humid enough.
Hot temperatures can cause hermit crabs to dry out, and this will make them feel terrible. They won’t be able to breathe properly when it gets too hot.
So you have to keep a close eye on the environment when you’re caring for hermit crabs. Keeping them healthy is important.
3 – Hiding
You might mistake the hermit crab hiding away as the hermit crab being motionless. Hermit crabs like hiding and it’s very common for them to hide during the day.
Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures and it’s common for them to hide during the day. They try to hide and stay away from the light.
They really don’t like strong light sources. So you need to be careful when using lights for hermit crab tanks just to be on the safe side.
Generally, you shouldn’t mistake hiding for the hermit crab molting or being dead. It might hide for quite a while during the day, though.
4 – Hermit Crabs Are Nocturnal
Since hermit crabs are nocturnal, they might not move so much during the day. You shouldn’t expect hermit crabs to be active at all times.
Most people are awake during the day and they sleep at night. Your schedule might make it so you don’t see your hermit crab moving all that much.
You go to work during the day and you’re only going to be awake for so long after you get home. Eventually, you have to go to bed so you can wake up and go to work again.
Aside from lamenting the monotony of having to work so much, it’s also unfortunate that you don’t get to see your hermit crab when it’s at its most active. So there could be nothing wrong with the hermit crab at all.
Try to see if your hermit crab gets up and moves around once the lights are off. Check the habitat at night to see if your hermit crab is up and moving around.
If all seems well, you shouldn’t be worried at all. Hermit crabs are supposed to be inactive during the day.
5 – Loneliness
There is some speculation that hermit crabs might stop moving when they’re lonely. Hermit crabs are social creatures and it’s generally best to keep them in habitats with other hermit crabs.
Often, people keep hermit crabs in pairs. It’s also normal to keep these pets in small groups.
If your hermit crab is motionless and it doesn’t seem to want to do much, it might simply be depressed. Perhaps it’s sad because it doesn’t have any friends in the tank.
Buying more hermit crabs could help to turn things around. It’s a good idea to try buying another hermit crab of the same species.
Remember that you want to have enough space for all of the crabs. So make sure that the habitat is big enough to accommodate all of the crabs.
Give Your Crab Toys
Giving your crab toys is a good idea if you’re concerned about depression. Crabs might get bored if you don’t have anything for them to do in the tank.
Hermit crabs love climbing, and you can find all sorts of climbing toys that they’ll be interested in. So it’s wise to buy climbing toys for them.
There are little ropes that you can buy for the crabs. People attach them to suction cups and then attach those to the sides of the tank.
You can also place little logs in the tank and angle them so that the crabs can climb them. Hermit crabs seem to love climbing logs and little structures.
It gives them an interesting vantage point so they can see the tank in new ways. Just adding some toys to the tank might make the hermit crab want to get up and move around more often.
6 – Mite Infestations
There’s a chance that mites could be to blame for your hermit crab not moving in its shell. Mites are pests that will sometimes come to hermit crab habitats.
It’s said that they’re drawn to leftover food in the tank. Food rots very quickly in hermit crab tanks because of the high humidity level.
Mites like to burrow into leftover food. So to prevent problems with mites, it’s best to keep the tank very clean.
You should clean the hermit crab tank a little bit each day. Do a bit of spot cleaning to remove leftover food and fecal matter daily.
Then you can do a larger cleaning of the tank on a weekly basis. This will ensure that you won’t attract pests such as mites.
If mites are present in the tank, it could be very bad for your crab. They will get on your crab and make it very uncomfortable.
These mites are so hard to see with the naked eye. You might need to use a magnifying glass to see them properly.
Mites can be removed, but it’ll take some effort. You need to submerge your hermit crab in water for a while to remove the mites.
It’s also necessary to do a deep cleaning of the tank. You should replace the sand completely when you have a mite infestation.
Boil gravel, rocks, and decorations before putting them back in the tank. Mite issues can be annoying, but you can deal with this situation by taking the right actions.
7 – Has the Hermit Crab Died?
The final possibility to consider is whether the hermit crab has died. If the hermit crab is truly motionless, it may have simply passed away.
You want to be sure that you don’t mistake the situation for something else, though. If the hermit crab happens to be molting, it wouldn’t do to disturb it.
As noted earlier, disturbing a molting hermit crab can lead to death. You want to be really sure that a hermit crab has passed away before you do anything.
Typically, it isn’t that hard to tell when a hermit crab is dead. Dead hermit crabs smell absolutely terrible.
The smell is so atrocious that it’d be difficult to not notice it. A dead hermit crab smells very much like a dead and rotting fish.
With such a strong odor to deal with, you’ll likely notice that the hermit crab passed away. When you notice, it’ll be wise to get rid of the body as soon as you can.
What Should You Do With a Dead Hermit Crab?
If your hermit crab has died you should get rid of the body right away. You don’t want other hermit crabs in the tank to get sick.
There could be something wrong with the hermit crab that died. You don’t want the sickness to spread, and getting rid of the body should be your top priority.
Remove the body from the hermit crab tank immediately. Place it in a plastic bag and seal it for now.
You can decide what to do with the body later. For now, you want to clean the habitat really well.
Put your hermit crabs in a temporary habitat so you can clean the tank thoroughly. It’s best to remove all of the sand from the tank and throw it away.
Clean the tank as well as you can before putting new substrate materials inside. You can boil rocks, gravel, and decorations before putting them back in the tank.
Do your best to get the tank really clean. Once it’s clean, you can put the living hermit crabs back in the tank.
The dead hermit crab needs to be taken care of now. You can bury it in your yard if you’d like to.
Other people might choose to simply get rid of the hermit crab’s body. You can dispose of it the same way you would any type of organic waste, but since it is a pet, most people like to bury hermit crabs in their yards.
You may or may not want to reuse the shell. The hermit crab can be removed from the shell, but it might be hard to do so at first.
Getting the hermit crab out of the shell will be easier if you put it in the freezer for a bit. It stiffens the body up and makes it simpler to pull the crab out.
Before reusing the shell, it’s necessary to boil it so that it will be purified. Many people don’t bother to reuse the shells and simply bury their pet hermit crabs in the shells that they died in.
Learning why hermit crabs stop moving should help you. The crab could simply be molting.
If it’s not molting, it could be hiding or it might simply be sick. Of course, hermit crabs stop moving when they’ve died.
They smell terrible when they die, and that means it should be noticeable when a hermit crab passes away. Do your best to determine what’s going on and take the appropriate action.
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.