Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

This forum is where you discuss issues relating to molting hermit crabs, including pre- and post-molting issues. If you are having a molting emergency please post in the Emergency Forum.
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Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by Isastfu » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:18 pm

So I took in a PP that belonged to a friend thst was kept in hideous conditions(tiny metal cage thing with no substrate).I named him Herm and he's a sweetheart. Herm started molting and about a week later he started moving around????He shed his exoskeleton and ate some of it but I didn't think the whole process would be done in a week and a half.I was expecting about a month or two months since he isn't tiny. He doesn't LOOK like he's finished since I feel like he's way too purple.Are hermit crabs capable of walking mid molt?I picked him up to take pictures so I'm inserting those.I would really like some help since I'm terribly confused lol ImageImage


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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by wodesorel » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:25 pm

Since the molt process is usually done underground we don't really get a chance to see what all they do down there. Even for larger crabs, it's a few weeks of waiting, a day to shed, a week to eat that shed, and then a few more weeks of waiting.

If they molt on the surface, all those weeks of waiting before and after are usually not present. They shed and eat and then start moving around again, because being exposed is dangerous and they can't be in a molting stupor for an extended time.

It doesn't mean they are back to normal that fast, unless they are smaller. Larger crabs still need a few weeks to finish processing that exo, which is why he is so bright. I have even had crabs come up from normal molts with supercharged colors, and the color settles into a more normal shade in a few weeks.

Is he eating and drinking normally? That is usually my baseline for deciding when they are safe with others. It may not be a bad idea to keep him isolated for another week though, just in case.
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by curlysister » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:49 pm

Did he molt on the surface? Or could you see him underneath? Perhaps filling in the Emergency template would help us answer your questions.

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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by Isastfu » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:27 am

wodesorel wrote:Since the molt process is usually done underground we don't really get a chance to see what all they do down there. Even for larger crabs, it's a few weeks of waiting, a day to shed, a week to eat that shed, and then a few more weeks of waiting.

If they molt on the surface, all those weeks of waiting before and after are usually not present. They shed and eat and then start moving around again, because being exposed is dangerous and they can't be in a molting stupor for an extended time.

It doesn't mean they are back to normal that fast, unless they are smaller. Larger crabs still need a few weeks to finish processing that exo, which is why he is so bright. I have even had crabs come up from normal molts with supercharged colors, and the color settles into a more normal shade in a few weeks.

Is he eating and drinking normally? That is usually my baseline for deciding when they are safe with others. It may not be a bad idea to keep him isolated for another week though, just in case.


He was a bit burrowed but I could still see him during his molt. Also he seems to move a lot and settle in different areas so I've just been placing the last bits of exo near him so he can eat it. I can't really tell if he's been eating/drinking. I filled out the template incase there's something I'm missing.

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
A. I use coconut substrate and its at a slope going from 5 inches to 2. It used to be about 6 inches all around but I guess me taking out filthy bits over time diminished the amount. I also noticed he doesn't really enjoy digging anyways.

2. Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read?
A.I have a thermometer hygrometer combo located near the top of the tank closer to his heat lamp. Thermometer usually reads 70-80F and hygrometer is usually 70-90.

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
A. I have a heat lamp on one side of the tank right on top of the lid ( only on during the day) and a 10x21 UTH all along the entire back of my 10 gallon tank (Always on).

4. What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)?
A. I use hot tap water conditioned with Aqueon water conditioner and then I divide it into two bowls. One of the bowls gets sea salt added. I use Fluval Sea Marine Salt Pro Reef Formula which is an alternative to Instant Ocean. I just eyeball the amount of salt. I sometimes taste it to check it. I usually make it very salty and he seems to enjoy it.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
A. I usually give him oats, fresh fruit and veggies. I sometimes give him vegan cheese crackers since he likes them? Sometimes coconut palm sugar since I noticed he has a sweet tooth. I also give him dried whole shrimp and just whatever I find in the house that's on the safe foods list. I also sprouted some Chia in there incase he wanted to have a go at that lol. I try experimenting to see what he enjoys and what he doesn't enjoy. I switch out his food whenever it stops looking clean. The humidity makes it mold quickly so I try for switching it every day.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
A. I took him in on July 4th of 2017. So around 9 months??? Has been quite a while, eh? He is a PP.

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
A. Like how I mentioned earlier, he molted once with me and it started like 2 weeks ago.

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
A. 10 gallon fish tank with the normal wire mesh lid, although I cling wrapped the top to lock in humidity.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?
A. Just him!

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?
A. I have 2 extra unpainted shells he doesn't really quite care for.

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently?
A. Nope. Unless you count the fumes coming off my horrible burnt cooking.. Yeesh.

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
A. I don't like to mess with his tank too much. I check it for smells and scrape up some substrate off the top or soak up extra water with paper towels to keep it from flooding. He was in a 5 gallon for half of the time I've had him then I moved him to a 10 gallon so that he has some leg room. I planned on cleaning out his tank but he started his molt so I was holding it off for after. When I'm going to clean it I'm just going to dump out the substrate then wipe it down with a paper towel. Simple.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
A. heck no.

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
A. Nah

15. Is there any other information you would like to share that might be helpful (anything that is regularly part of your crab care, playtime, bathing, etc.)?
A. Nope

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.
A. I just wanted to know what was up with that quick molt and if I should be worried or beating myself up for being a bad father haha



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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by wodesorel » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:27 am

Most PPs don't dig much, but they need that deep substrate when it comes time to molt so they can do as nature intends and do so underground. For a 10 gallon, it should be half-filled to give them at least 6 inches, and with his size he could use it. That would be probably 5 blocks of EE (I don't use it much so I am not as sure, but once it settles it's about a gallon per block) or one 50 lb bag of playsand. One half-surface or full surface molt they can recover from, but chain multiples back to back and it ends up killing them. They really need to be fully covered and in the dark for hormonal reasons.

Any reason why you use hot tap water? Are you letting it cool down to tank temp before adding? They can't handle extremes, if he fell in before it cooled down it would cause burns and he would drop limbs or it could possibly kill him. Also, if your home uses copper pipes, the heat will help to leech copper ions into the water which isn't good for invertebrates.

A few more shells would be good. We have a sticky in the Shell section that shows the kind they prefer. We talk a lot about painted shells and why they aren't good, and there really are truths to the paint not being regulated. The sooner you can entice him into a natural shell the better it is for him. Another decade of life would not be unheard of, making it toxin free is important!

I know the cooking thing is a joke, but seriously, burning pans that have Teflon coatings are toxic and are a top killer of pet birds. There is a good chance it would effect hermits as well given they have sensitive modified gills for breathing.

If you need to ever get the glass clean, vinegar is safe to use around them and gets the water spots!
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by Isastfu » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:36 pm

wodesorel wrote:Most PPs don't dig much, but they need that deep substrate when it comes time to molt so they can do as nature intends and do so underground. For a 10 gallon, it should be half-filled to give them at least 6 inches, and with his size he could use it. That would be probably 5 blocks of EE (I don't use it much so I am not as sure, but once it settles it's about a gallon per block) or one 50 lb bag of playsand. One half-surface or full surface molt they can recover from, but chain multiples back to back and it ends up killing them. They really need to be fully covered and in the dark for hormonal reasons.

Any reason why you use hot tap water? Are you letting it cool down to tank temp before adding? They can't handle extremes, if he fell in before it cooled down it would cause burns and he would drop limbs or it could possibly kill him. Also, if your home uses copper pipes, the heat will help to leech copper ions into the water which isn't good for invertebrates.

A few more shells would be good. We have a sticky in the Shell section that shows the kind they prefer. We talk a lot about painted shells and why they aren't good, and there really are truths to the paint not being regulated. The sooner you can entice him into a natural shell the better it is for him. Another decade of life would not be unheard of, making it toxin free is important!

I know the cooking thing is a joke, but seriously, burning pans that have Teflon coatings are toxic and are a top killer of pet birds. There is a good chance it would effect hermits as well given they have sensitive modified gills for breathing.

If you need to ever get the glass clean, vinegar is safe to use around them and gets the water spots!


I see... Yeah I know he needs at least 6 inches, he just refuses to use it so I thought it'd be fine. When I redo the tank I'm going to use two blocks of exo terra which I believe is more than the eco earth blocks? I'm having trouble finding more blocks for sale so these two blocks were in my emergency stash just incase I couldn't buy more coconut substrate for whatever reason. Although he wasn't fully under in the ground, he had a lot more room to dig down he just didn't? And he was 100% in the dark during his molt since he has this rock hide thing and he was in a corner of it and that side of the tank I keep covered with a small towel to ensure its dark. And I covered it even more during his molt and left his tank alone.

I use one bowl with hot water just to help heat down his tank and up the humidity during the winter since it's harder for me to keep things nice and toasty even with my uth and heat lamp. He doesn't touch the water or go near it after I put it down and by the time he touches it, it's warm and not cold. My house uses newer plastic pipes, I remember them being replaced about a year ago. I sometimes use filtered fridge water then I microwave it to make it warm.

It's hard to find proper bigger shells that don't cost a fortune. I see a bunch of tiny ones at the pet store but Herm clearly isn't tiny. I've been looking for shells since I first got him and only managed to find two. I already know the type of shells they like, I look for smooth insides also. I'd never buy him a painted shell or coated shell that's terrible. Long before I even met Herm I read up on how they abuse hermit crabs and signed a petition to stop petsmart from selling them. This included information on how the shells are terrible for them. I make sure there's nothing toxic in his tank .

And yes the cooking thing is 100% a joke. I also have a parrot and wouldn't want her inhaling any fumes. I use ancient what I think is iron pans and pots most of the time. And his tank is well covered to trap in humidity( humidity is a total pain) so I don't think there's any way there would be fumes getting into his tank even if I decided to burn my own house down. I lift his lid sometimes solely just to get oxygen in there since I don't want him suffocating.

And thanks for the vinegar tip, really!


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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by curlysister » Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:43 pm

If the substrate is the correct depth and consistency, he will use it!
As for shells, I have ordered from Naples Shells in the past, I found them quite reasonable. My Sonny is large, and shells are the biggest expense! LOL.
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by Isastfu » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:56 am

curlysister wrote:If the substrate is the correct depth and consistency, he will use it!
As for shells, I have ordered from Naples Shells in the past, I found them quite reasonable. My Sonny is large, and shells are the biggest expense! LOL.

His substrate is fineee he's just too finicky smh . I will definitely be giving him more substrate in the future though since he is getting bigger.I'm hoping Herm stays with me for a long time and becomes massive but I dread the expenses I'd have to make just for those shells, ugh.Especially if I want the pretty ones lol. I checked out naples shells and it's way cheaper than what I've paid before(including shipping) so I might just order some shells from there if I can't find someplace better. Thanks! Image


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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by AwesomeHermit » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:36 pm

I love the coloring of the crab
3 Clypeatus or maybe two idk
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by piratetoothgir » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:47 pm

How is he so purple for a caribbean?
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by wodesorel » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:51 pm

Didn't you see my all cobalt blue guy? Every so often you'll get a super pigmented crab after a molt, but it is usually related to molting and it fades over time.
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by curlysister » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:22 pm

Wodesorel, where is the photo of your cobalt blue guy? I'd love to see it!
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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by StarGirlxo » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:29 pm

Isastfu wrote:So I took in a PP that belonged to a friend thst was kept in hideous conditions(tiny metal cage thing with no substrate).I named him Herm and he's a sweetheart. Herm started molting and about a week later he started moving around????He shed his exoskeleton and ate some of it but I didn't think the whole process would be done in a week and a half.I was expecting about a month or two months since he isn't tiny. He doesn't LOOK like he's finished since I feel like he's way too purple.Are hermit crabs capable of walking mid molt?I picked him up to take pictures so I'm inserting those.I would really like some help since I'm terribly confused lol ImageImage


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Please Get him.out of that painted shell ..natural shells only. This is so bad for them

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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by soilentgringa » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:11 pm

StarGirlxo wrote:
Isastfu wrote:So I took in a PP that belonged to a friend thst was kept in hideous conditions(tiny metal cage thing with no substrate).I named him Herm and he's a sweetheart. Herm started molting and about a week later he started moving around????He shed his exoskeleton and ate some of it but I didn't think the whole process would be done in a week and a half.I was expecting about a month or two months since he isn't tiny. He doesn't LOOK like he's finished since I feel like he's way too purple.Are hermit crabs capable of walking mid molt?I picked him up to take pictures so I'm inserting those.I would really like some help since I'm terribly confused lol ImageImage


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Please Get him.out of that painted shell ..natural shells only. This is so bad for them

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OP has natural shell options in the tank, as stated in a previous comment.

Sometimes crabs take a while to ditch their painted shells.



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Re: Can hermit crabs walk mid molt?

Post by soilentgringa » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:13 pm

I noticed you said you don't measure the marine salt.

It is very important to make sure you are mixing it to the proper ratio because too much salt in the water can be harmful to them and even give them a chemical burn.

When the water and salt is mixed correctly the specific gravity and salinity are identical to sea water.



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