Where to post and/or get advice about your molting hermit crab(s). Includes pre-molting, molting, and post-molting issues.
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I am new here. Please excuse my lack of correct terminology. I have had my two hermit crabs for 6 years. One is molting but looks like she has not been able to shed exoskeleton on her left limb, its still attached at the bottom of her new limb. It looks like she was shedding it and it got stuck, if that makes sense. It looks like she has one very long limb due to the old one still attached. Is there anything I can do for her? I can see her moving at times. I know they should not be disturbed during molt. I have been misting her like I usually mist their enclosure, thinking the moisture may help lubricate the old exoskeleton limb so that it can come off. I have covered the enclosure to make it darker in there. She is not buried but in the corner of the tank by the water dish. I did move the other crab to a temporary tank. Any suggestions or tips would be great. I noticed she was molting two days ago.
Some crabs even in good conditions have trouble with a molt every once in awhile. If the exo skeleton has hardened it is there until the next molt. Watch to see if its moving around ok if it is leave it alone. It will probably stock up on food and water then try to molt again fairly soon. If the leg is a lot longer and it is having trouble I have read where someone was able to clip part of the end off making it shorter and more comfortable for the crab but I would not suggest this myself.If you can answer these questions it will help us a lot in trying to figure out if your tank is properly set up or if it is your tank conditions that may have caused the problem. If it is your tank condition the crab may not be able to molt again and correct the leg problem until you correct the tank conditions. (not meant to come across as mean, rude , or judging - just trying to help) Questions
Thank you so much for replying. I am very concerned about this molt. I always dislike it when they mold because I worry about them. And this particular crab has molted out of her shell several years ago.1. I have two hermit crabs. I have had these crabs for 6 years and have been caring for them the whole time. 2. I have a 10 gallon glass tank with a air screen lid. I cover most of the top with a small blanket except for one end I leave partly uncovered.3. For heat I use a Zoo Med Hermit Crab Heater 4 watts I believe. It has not been plugged in for a few months as I have moved their enclosure to a warmer room. But they would usually be right there next to the heater in the other room. I just figured this room they are in now does not get very cool like the other room did.4. The substrate I use is dry loose coconut fiber and I mist it. The depth is not what it should be maybe one to one and a half inches. She is actually on the glass bottom. I can see her in the corner. She could have had more substrate in that area prior to molting but it seems she has moved it aside.5. I use Hermit Crab water that I buy and use with their sponge as drinking water and I fill a small water dish with the Hermit crab salt water that they get in occasionally. The brand is All Living Things from PetSmart. But if I run out I usually give them just bottled purified spring water.6. I feed my crabs All Living Things Brand Food Medley which is a blend of pellets, dried shrimp and mealworms. All Living Things Brand Hermit Crab Crunchies a peanut treat and some coconut flakes at the current time.7. I mist my crabs pretty frequently and I have not bathed them in a very long time. I did this in the past but have not at least probably 6 months or so. I do pick them up probably once weekly and then put them back in their enclosure. I have never handled them too much.8. I have not monitored their humidity or temperatures in at least a year or so. I did have a meter but will have to buy one again. I will do that today.Now after answering these questions, I feel like I am not taking care of them as I should. I have always thought I have taken very good care of them. Her behavior prior to this molt has been inactive and staying in the same spot for about a week or so. I knew she was getting ready to molt a few months ago because I could see her molt sac but her activity was normal. That was end of March and she is just now molting as of this past weekend that I am aware of. But no unusual behavior that I have noticed prior to this. I have removed the other crab from the enclosure while she is molting. I am concerned that maybe she did not shed her exoskeleton completely in other areas too. I see her big claw is ok. I can't see the bulk of her exoskeleton though. She is in her same shell and I can just see her limbs. Any information you can share I would appreciate. Thanks.
Hve you read the different molting threads? They contain a lot of info.If memory serves correct they will usually eat and drink more then bury under the substrate (which in your tank is way too shallow and dry) so it couldn't bury then it will find the perfect spot to molt the molt itself only takes a day or 2 then they start to harden and I think that takes a few days. Most crabs will remain buried longer than the molt time.The best way to quick fix your tank problem would be to replace the blanket with plastic wrap covering 99% of the lid (I do this with my 10g). Then do a very heavy mist directly on the coco fiber but not too close to stress the crab. This should boost your humidity but may not get it to the correct 75-80% you'll need a guage to check. If it doesn't that's ok cuz it will take a little bit for the crab to adjust to the new level anyway. When the crab start moving around more add more sub-coco fiber to get at the very least 2x the height of your crabs shell 6" is what is actually suggested and soak it in salt water to get it moist and moldable like sandcastle sand - not soaked. Offer some banana and organic honey and organic peanut butter this will help with the crabs energy it may be a few days before it will eat though since they eat the exo first. I will be back on tomorrow but have to get off for now.
Thank you for your reply. I will continue to look through the other molting threads to see if there are any similar situations. I did get a thermometer/hygrometer last night and checked the readings after misting the substrate and the numbers are within normal range. However, the humidity did get in the 90's but this is now corrected. I have not misted today and the humidity is still on the higher side of normal. I still have the blanket covering the top of enclosure, no plastic wrap yet. Maybe this will help when I change that out. The crab still has not moved from her original location. She is eating the exo now or what's left of it. Her limb is very long and looks to have white/scarring on new limb. I wonder if I should give her some time and then place her on the food dish with the organic honey and peanut butter and then place her on the water dish, etc? I am not sure if she is going to leave this spot to access nutrition. I will give her some time. She has been in this spot for a few weeks though. She is almost done with the excess exo. Her activity at this time does not concern me as I can see her moving around in her shell eating exo. But, just concerned if she can get around with such a long limb, how will she eat, drink, etc. I am also curious about how the rest of the exoskeleton shed, or if she has the same issue on the other side with the limb not shedding properly. I hope she gets back to normal soon. Thanks for all the information. It is very much appreciated.
Anytime after you mist the reading will be higher. Wait for awhile and recheck the humidity and it should stabilize back out and give a more accurate reading. Kinda like when it mists or rains outside the humidity is higher but if you wait a couple hours after it stops the humidity reads different. The plastic wrap should hold the humidity in better than the blanket so if you find that the humidity is to high just uncover small amount of the lid at a time until you get the right amount of air flow to keep humidity where it should be. 80% is ideal, but if you think it was a lot lower than that raising the humidity to high to fast could stress your crab so try to get to that 80% slowly if your tank was under 70% to start with.You could place the food dish and water dish closer to the crab make sure the honey and pb is just small drop size amount not a glob that the crab could get stuck to. Boiled egg would be good protein source too. If you haven't done so check out our food list in the zoea forum at the top.
Samantha, my hermit that was having difficulty molting, seems to be doing ok. Somehow, the leg is normal size however, there is white scarring. She is still hanging out in the corner of the enclosure but I have noticed that she is drinking from her sponge. I have moved the food dish close to her but cant tell if she is eating. I think she will be ok. Just wanted to post an update. And now with the temp and humidity gauge, it seems to be in the 70's for both, so I think this is ok. I have not misted the enclosure as the humidity rises each time I do this. Thanks for all the information!
Crabs can't drink from a sponge. They might eat it but they get little drops of water on their claws to suck up when drinking. Be very careful with sponges in water because if not sterilized frequently they harbor lots of bacteria which can make your crabs sick. You can sterilize it by boiling it or zapping it in the microwave til its hot enough to kill the bacteria every 3 days or so if I remember right. Is your water bowls big/deep enough the crabs can get in to put water in their shells?
Ok, well the crab is using the sponge for water source, however the intake of water is... How long have you had crabs and how long have your crabs lived? I am no expert after 6 years but know they are alive and well and we have been using a sponge for all these years. I have never sterilized them, however, I do run them under hot water and clean them. But I understand what you mean about bacteria, I don't use kitchen sponges because of that issue. The water dish is not deep enough for them to get water in their shells, but I do have a deeper salt water dish that they can get into. I mist them regularly. I also still have the blanket covering the top of enclosure and the temp and humidity readings are perfect. So, not sure if I am going to do the plastic wrap, I have done that in the past. But whatever I am doing seems to work fine. What do you use for water source instead of sponge?
I have small dishes that are about an inch deep with no sponge in them one fresh dechlorinated and the other salt dechlorinated. I have read where some of our members do have sponges but keep them clean/sterile and some just put it in a drier portion of the tank to be eaten.I have had my crabs since right before I joined in 2012. I am by no means an expert but everything that I post is what I've read multiple times from different sources or is posted on here by our senior/longtime/more experienced members and/or in a combination of personal experience.If your humidity is staying fine by all means continue how you have it. A couple of members have done it the way you are and then switched to covering the tank with plexi-glass or plastic wrap and preferred the latter covering over the blanket/towel cover which is why I suggested to you to do the same (myself being a 3rd person). Some areas have different humidity like your coastal areas have higher humidity so its easier to keep it in a preferable range for the crabs. One of our members is in Arizona and has an extremely difficult time with the humidity there cuz its so dry; for this reason all we can do is make suggestion based on what has worked for us or others in the attempt to try and help others that's having problems.
Yes hermitcrabs can not physically drink from a sponge they utilize the little hairs that line their mouths to draw water droplets in from their pinchers via capillary action, they have no lips and no real mouth to speak of so they can't physically suck water, the sponge is actually worse than useless in this case as it steals the water the crabs could have been accessing locking it away from them leaving them with only one option which is to eat the sponge which is what your seeing when they are on the sponge.The sponges harbor several different strains of harmful bacteria that readily colonize the large surface area of the sponge when it becomes wet causing the sponge to essentially become a petri dish of some of the most volatile bacterial strains imaginable including staph and e-coli.The only way to use sponges safely is to soak them in decholrinated salt water, allow to air-dry completely and then run them in the microwave on high for five minutes this will ensure that the sponges are completely sterile and has to be done on a daily basis so having multiple clean sea sponges that can be rotated out on a daily basis will go a long way.The hermitcrabs would benefit more from having access to a dish of dechlorinated fresh and salt water that would allow them to be half way submerged when at rest in their shells, for me since I have a big mix of larges, extra larges and jumbos I have to use containers that hold half a gallon of water or more I just used smooth river stones and coral sections to build the bottoms up to allow my crabs to have easy access into the dishes and exits from them and I have never had a problem with even my micros and tinnies getting stuck or drowning.Depending on your tank size you could use regular plastic Tupperware containers or even the plastic take out containers from like a Chinese restaurant do what you can with the space you have nobody is judging you here. All but three of the known species have the ability to retain salt in their bodies and use both fresh and salt water which they pump through their gills into the shells mixing the two together until they achieve the perfect osmotic balance though this balance differs from crab to crab even of the same species so its no wonder yours have been able to get along so well for so long its likely they have been depending heavily upon their salt water to fill their shells and then they use the fresh to balance it out to the desired concentration they are resilient and resourceful little animals.I've been crabbing since the summer of 1992 and even after 23yrs I wouldn't say I'm an expert that is something no matter how long a person may have been doing this can honestly claim there is just so much we don't know about these wonderful little animals and I would say we have only recently in the last five years begun to scratch the surface of the matter.Science is now looking at hermitcrabs in much more profound ways they have even drawn blood from a land hermitcrab back in 2012 and mapped its genomic sequence and tagged the subsequent DNA/RNA in a catalog that contains the DNA/RNA signatures of several thousand different animals for future research purposes.
Hi I have autism so I tend to answer questions very directly and with little emotion so please don't think I'm being rude.
Thanks for all the education. I am glad my two hermit crabs have done so well for over 6 years now under apparently such poor conditions. I will try to eliminate the sponge but that is what they are familiar with. I have not always had a salt water dish but have now in the recent year or two. So yeah, how they have managed to survive is beyond me if what I am doing is creating a poor living environment. The one that molted in the original post is now doing fine. No problems and the other just molted as well and waiting for him to come around. Seems to be fine as well. I will continue to follow your forums for educational purposes. Thanks again.
@KatieG, I'm not saying you have to eliminate the sponge just use a large enough water dish that the sponge isn't stealing all of the available water and make sure to rotate out the sponge with a clean one every day and your good to go.Like I said in my earlier post you can easily sterilize a sponge to make it safe for continued use you just have to keep up with cleaning it on a daily basis.I know some of our members swear by sea sponges and use them with great success while others like myself have adopted a different approach its really a personal decision that you have to make on your own based on your own setup and habitat conditions so like I said before there is no judging going here we all have our own ways of doing things and what may work for me may not work for you or someone else and that's a given. From what I've read you seem to really love your hermitcrabs and have been the absolute best you can for them and I applaud that, just think if they had ended up with someone else they may not have made it this long and done so well so you must be doing something right.Just do what you can with the resources you have and let the crabs do the rest that's my philosophy.
Hi I have autism so I tend to answer questions very directly and with little emotion so please don't think I'm being rude.