Do Hermit Crabs Shed?


Whether do hermit crabs shed or not is a crucial question to understand before deciding on safekeeping the hermit crabs at home. The answer to this question is that, hermit crabs do shed or remove their exoskeleton from their body once in a while. The shedding or molting is an important part of  every hermit crab life and hermit crab owners must have complete insight in this aspect in order to ensure the comfort and safety of the hermit crabs. Therefore, if you are a new owner of a hermit crab and are wondering do hermit crabs shed or not, then look for the molting symptoms of the hermit crab.

A very important point to know in this respect is that the hermit crabs prefer privacy and a moist sand bed for their molting. Molting is a complicated, yet beautiful natural regenerative process of the hermit crab. The hermit crab not only grows their outer exoskeleton, but also regenerates any lost limb or claw off its body (the loss of claws/limbs is an extreme response of the crab towards stress). Since this is a very sensitive process, so the hermits prefer to stay inside a sand cavity during the period of shedding. All hermit crabs prefer to dig a hole in the sand and stay there for 4-8 weeks until the molting is complete. Since the crabs dig their burrows just beneath the shell, so they are not visible from the outside. During this time, the only occasional movements that the hermit crab might make are to travel towards water during the night. It is for this reason that the hermit crab enclosure must have a slightly moist and bed within it, so that the little crab can easily dig in the ground and replenish it with the moisture of the sand.

The frequency of molting depends on a number of factors like the species of the crab, the size of the crab and also on the individual nature of the crabs. Wounds are also important stimulus to molting as the crabs repair their wounded bodies while they stay in the sand hibernation for molting. Generally crabs molt once or thrice a year. Smaller crabs molt more frequently (molting is a growing process) while the larger crabs molt less frequently.

Another aspect of the question do hermit crabs shed is to understand that you are not allowed to check the hermit crab by touching it or its shell during molting. This is important, as hermit crabs, true to their names, are quite hermits who do not like to be disturbed when they are hibernating in their sand pits. Instead, to know the state of the hermit crab look for symptoms like a dug up sand bed or a peeling exoskeleton on the hermit crabs’ body. If you can recognize the pre-molting symptoms then it is better to remove the crab to an isolated tank to save it from any disturbance. If the molting has started unexpectedly, then do not disturb the crab, but see whether the comfort conditions of temperature and humidity are properly maintained in the enclosure or not. Set up an innovative isolation around the crab, but take care that the crab is not getting disturbed during setting up of the isolation around it. Also important is to arrange for water and food inside the isolation. The hermit crab’s food during molting must consist of sufficient amount of carotene and calcium.