For starters I will explain what exactly hermit molting is. Molting happens when your crab is growing. The hermit crab has a skeleton unlike other species, in that his is on the outside of his body. The skeleton is called the exoskeleton.
So as he grows he will start to get too big for his exoskeleton which doesn’t grow with him. At this point he will shed his now too small for him exoskeleton. He will then start to grow a new bigger exoskeleton. This is in a nutshell was hermit crab molting is.
Regrow Body Parts
If a crab has lost a limb or an antennae he will regrow it during his this process. So don’t be overwhelmed because this is a very natural process and you don’t need to do much at all, the crab takes pretty good care of himself.
You can expect small crabs to molt several times as year as they are growing quickly, while larger crabs will molt approximately every twelve to eighteen months.
Signs Of Hermit Molting
There are several signs of hermit molting that you can look out for so that you will know that your crab is preparing to molt. Their behaviors and appearance will change a little bit a couple weeks before the process. You can expect to see your crab drinking and eating a lot more than usual.
This is his way of storing up energy to live off during the molting process. So go ahead and offer him a couple more treats than usual. Another thing you can expect to see is a lot more digging, your little guy is looking for a safe place to burrow.
This is a survival instinct because they become very vulnerable at this time. When they are in their natural habitats they are more susceptible to predators because they don’t have that hard exoskeleton to protect them. Your crab will also become less active than normal, and may even stop moving all together.
It’s natural for us to start to worry when our crabs aren’t moving around but don’t worry he is not dead, he’s just molting. The final sign that I can going to talk about that you can look for is gel like nubs where your crab is missing limbs (if he is missing limbs), this is the regrowing process getting started.
Your Hermit Crab Is Ready To Molt
If you have observed these signs in your crab then chances are he is ready to molt. You should move him into a isolated tank away from the other crabs. The reason for this is because like I mentioned because your molting crab is most vulnerable at this time. They may be attacked or even eaten by the other crabs in your tank.
This is the reason that many owners choose to have a separate smaller tank set up for primarily the hermit molting process. So in order to do this you will need a smaller tank (2-5 gallon), a heater, deep substrate (at least 6 inches deep), water dishes (one freshwater and one saltwater), a food dish and a hiding place.
Don’t Remove The Exoskeleton
It is very important that you don’t remove the exoskeleton because he will eat it because it has crucial nutrients that molting crabs needs. So I will repeat this very important point, do not remove the exoskeleton. After the molt is complete your crab will resurface, although it is still necessary to keep him isolated because his exoskeleton takes a little time to harden. I would leave him isolated for approximately 9 days.
If you notice that the process of hermit crab moulting has begun before you got a chance to put him in your hermit molting isolation tank then you can place a piece of plastic or sturdy material between the molting crab and the other crabs. Be sure to make this blockade high enough so that crabs can’t climb over it. You will want to provide her with the water dishes discussed above.
Leave Them Alone During The Molting Process
Remember that other than what I mentioned above you don’t have to do anything for these little guys when they are molting. It’s best to give them their privacy and let them do their thing. You don’t want to disturb and handle them during the hermit molting process, this may stress them out.