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How Long Can Hermit Crabs Live Without A Shell?

As the popularity of keeping hermit crabs as pets continues to increase, the number of questions that we see from the community about caring for both aquatic and terrestrial hermit crabs continues to increase at a rapid pace. With each month that goes by, we seem to see an ever-increasing number of people looking to add a hermit crab to their tanks and it really is great that so many people are reaching out to ask for advice on how best to care for them.

One of the more commonly asked questions that we have seen people asking about recently is how long can hermit crabs live without a shell and this is a great question as the shell of a hermit crab can be very important in many situations. Just keep in mind that many of the people who keep hermit crabs will only have their hermit crab in their tank and the primary purpose of their shell is to protect them from potential predators so with no potential predators available in some tanks, a hermit crab can live for a surprisingly long time without its shell.

That said though, the shell does offer a number of other, additional benefits so it is usually a good idea to get your hermit crab a new shell as quickly as possible. Thankfully, there are a number of hermit crab shell packs available online that make it quick, easy, and cheap for you to supply your hermit crab with new shells as required. Still, much of the advice that we see from the community about a hermit crab without a shell on social media is actually incorrect so we wanted to publish our own article on the topic.

How Long Can Hermit Crabs Live Without A Shell?

In the wild, a hermit crab without a shell won’t last long as a potential predator will usually see it as a very easy meal. In captivity, the same thing can happen in tanks where your hermit crab has potential predators but if you only keep your hermit crab in its tank without any tank mates, it can live without its shell for a long period of time.

Due to some species of hermit crab potentially seeing their own tank mates as food, many people who keep aquatic hermit crabs will keep them as a solo tank occupants so there are no predators to attack it without its shell. Some of the terrestrial, land based hermit crabs can be very territorial too and aggressively fight their tank mates so many people will also keep these in a tank without any tank mates meaning they have no predators when they are without a shell too.

Still, as we mentioned above, the shell of a hermit crab offers more than just protection from predators so it is usually a good idea to try and get your hermit crab a new shell as quickly as possible. With the various hermit crab shell packs on the market having such a low price tag, there is usually no excuse for not being able to supply your hermit crab with a new shell though.

Will A Hermit Crab Die Without A Shell?

It is highly likely that a hermit crab in the wild will die quickly without a shell due to the shell offering the crab protection against potential predators. In captivity, hermit crabs are not usually kept in tanks with any predators or tank mates who mate try to harm them so they can often live longer without having a shell.

As we touched on earlier though, the shell of a hermit crab does not only offer protection from predators, it also offers protection for the softer tissue of the hermit crab that it uses to grip onto the crab. This tissue is sensitive and may rip or tear on your rocks and substrate depending on the setup of the tank that you keep your pet hermit crab in. Getting your hermit crab a new shell via a hermit crab shell pack removes this risk and helps to increase the expected life span of your hermit crab even though the risk of these rips and tears occurring is usually low.

Algae can sometimes start to grow on the rear of a hermit crab without a shell too and although this is not life threatening, it can start to irritate the flesh of the hermit crab and result in issues. Making sure that your hermit crab has a new shell to move in to does not totally remove this risk but it does drastically reduce the chances of it happening and helps to keep your pet hermit crab as happy as possible.

Whats The Best Way To Get New Shells For My Hermit Crab?

There are a number of ways that you are able to get new shells for your pet hermit crab but your location will come into play. If you live near a beach or area with lots of snails then you can go out and try to find a suitable shell for your hermit crab but most people simply just buy a hermit crab shell pack online as they are cheap and come with a number of shells of all sizes for your hermit crab.

With so many of our readers living in large cities and leading busy lives this is usually the best route to take as ordering a hermit crab shell pack online is quick, easy, and cheap while providing a range of shells for your hermit crab to choose from. This helps to offer some variety for your pet hermit crab to choose a shell that it likes as its new home.

Just keep in mind that it can be normal for your pet hermit crab that needs a new shell to try out a number of the shell options that you give it over the course of a couple of days. Try not to remove the other shell options from your hemit crabs tank due to it getting into one of the shells as it may want to test out some of the others so just leave all of the shells in the shell pack in your hermit crabs tank for a couple of days.

What Happens If A Hermit Crab Can’t Find A New Shell?

If a hermit crab can’t find a new shell then they will try other objects to protect as a new home. Some wild hermit crabs use empty soda cans and bottles and other trash as their home but this usually makes it problematic for the hermit crab to effectively grab its new home and hold onto it meaning predators can often remove the crab from its home with ease.

If a hermit crab is unable to find a new shell or anything else that it is able to try and use as a home then it may try to go back to its old shell but this may require the crab to molt its current husk. Although the molting process is normal for many hermit crab species, their new husk will quickly harden and force the crab to have to work on looking for a new shell again.

When a hermit crab is unable to find a new shell or any object that it is able to use as a new home while also being unable to molt to try and fit back into its old shell, it will usually just walk around exposed without any protection. This is when hermit crabs usually end up becoming part of the food chain with a potential predator picking the crab off with ease.

Conclusion

That brings our article going over how long can hermit crabs live without a shell to an end. We hope that we have been able to help as many of our readers as possible better understand the potential risks of leaving their pet hermit crab without a shell as well as how you are able to quickly, easily, and cheaply get a new shell for your pet hermit crab to live in.