Updated: Jul 13
A naked Hermit Crab is never a good sign. Ever. So why do Hermit Crabs go naked? They will often drop their shell during severe stress or poor conditions.
Reasons why Hermit Crabs may drop their shell.
Physically stressed - This can be caused by inappropriate overhandling, poor tank conditions, a stressful environment, stressful travel or poor pet store conditions.
Shell Jacking - When another Hermit Crab has stolen their shell and there are no extra suitable shells for the crab to inhabit.
Irritant in the shell - this could be sand, fungus, a pest, small rocks etc.
Tank temperate is too high or too low.
Humidity is too low.
These are all common reasons as to why a Hermit Crab will go on a nudie run.
Their shells serve two important purposes, protection and keeping their abdomen from drying out.
If you find your crab in its tank, with no shell, this is an instant emergency and should be handled as soon as possible.
What to do in a shell-less Hermit Crab situation
Carefully pick the naked crab up using a spoon and place them into a large mug, container or isolation tub with a small amount of treated water to keep their abdomen moist.
Place their old shell (the shell that they dropped) into the isolation tub, along with several other suitable shells.
Place the isolation tub back into the tank and cover it with a damp cloth to give the crab privacy.
There should NOT be anything else in the isolation tub apart from the naked crab, shells and a small amount of treated water. They do not need food in there with them. It is so important that they have no distractions, their only job now is to pick a new shell.
Leave the crab alone for 1 hour and check back on it, if it is still naked, leave it be for longer. Once your Hermit Crab has picked a shell and seems to be sticking with it, you can remove them from the isolation tub and place them back into the tank.
It is very important to establish the reason why a Hermit Crab has gone naked in the first place. Are your tank conditions up to scratch? Are the heat and humidity correct? Is there a shell jacker in the tank? Are you mishandling your crabs? Do you have enough shells on offer in the appropriate size? These are all issues that need to be addressed, in order to ensure that this emergency does not arise again.
Hermit Crabs can only last for a few days without their shell before they will eventually die. A crab without a shell is a death sentence.
Contrary to belief, Hermit Crabs DO NOT go naked during molting or mating. A naked crab is always a bad sign and never something that is normal or healthy. The one and only time that a Hermit Crab should be naked, is the split second it takes for them to move from one shell to another.
*A Naked Hermit Crab (without a shell)
**Picture supplied by Flickr