What Should I Do With A Molting Hermit Crab?

As a crab owner, by far one of the most stressful events to go through is a molt. So first, take a deep breath, this is a completely natural part of a hermit crabs life and with proper care your hermit crab will come up even healthier and happier before. The key sign to an upcoming molt is your crab digging underneath the sand and remaining there for a few days without coming above ground. Most likely the molt has already begun. NEVER under any circumstances try to move a crab that is already molting. At such a sensitive time, moving your crab could severely hurt it.

So what can you do then? Well, first of all, just be patient. It's not necessary to be a doctor to your crab as it goes through this phase, but there are a few things you can do to ease them through the process.

Keep the sand moist: During this time your hermit crab's body is going to be beneath the sand. At this time it's body is going to be very tender and even more susceptible to dryness. Avoid your hermit crab 'drying up' by keep the sand damp (not soaking wet or flooding, but just of a usual 'sand-castle' consistency.

Leave the tunnel open and untouched: Do not attempt to 'bury your crab' or make it more comfortable. Try to leave the tunnel open so there is a consistent air flow to the crab. If you want to discourage other crabs in the habitat from entering the hole you can slip a plastic cup on top of the hole.

Have cuttlebones and fresh food available: At some point in time your crab is going to rise again. Be prepared! It's going to be hungry, so always keep fresh food available. A cuttlebone will help them regain their necessary minerals. Combined, both will lead to a quicker recovery.

Keep the humidity up: If your humidity is usually low, now is an especially important time to try to keep it higher. Keep it around 80% for the most comfortable molting environment for your crab. Above 80% wouldn't hurt either, but may cause mold to grow quicker. 80 % is ideal.

Regulate the heat: Just as with the humidity, fluctuations in heat will effect your crab more severely when they are molting as opposed to any other time. Try to keep the temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable environment.

Have extra shells ready: Molting is the process your hermit crab goes through as it grows bigger. It may just move right back into it's other comfy shell, but it may also come out feeling like it's time to move into something different. You should always have shells available, but now is a time that they are even more important to keep in stock.

Don't remove the exo-skeleton (left-over skin of a molted crab): So many people think that the exo-skeleton should be removed from the crabitat to prevent mold. This is absolutely not true. The exo-skeleton should absolutely be kept in the aquarium. Your newly molted crab will eat it to regain lost nutritions that will help him grow his new exo-skeleton.

Let your crab 'harden up': After a molt your crab will be weak and need time to rest, eat, and rebuild it's energy. Give it a few weeks before handling it, just to ensure it's nice and healthy.