Hermit Crab Molting - Understanding the Molting Process
Much like reptiles and other arthropods, hermit crabs will shed their exoskeleton or "skin" every so often as they grow and develop throughout their lives. The molting process of hermit crabs takes place as follows:
- Hermit crabs begin the molting process by absorbing nutrients and water. Calcium is essential in this stage as it is needed for the growth and development of the exoskeleton.
- When ready, hermit crabs will shed their exoskeletons as they absorb water and grow in size.
- Next, the hermit crabs skin will slowly harden into a brand new exoskeleton.
- Finally, hermit crabs will grow bigger and start to look for a new shell to live in.
By taking the time to understand the hermit crab molting process you will be much more successful in keeping your hermies happy, safe and alive. Sadly, in many cases, premature hermit crab deaths could have often been prevented, if only the pet owner had a little bit more understanding. For example...
- Molting hermit crabs need to be left alone! Unfortunately, owners will often see their pet hermies become very inactive and docile, and begin to handle them more frequently. Because hermies are very fragile during this time, they can get stressed very easily.
- It's very important that hermies do not dry out during a molt, as they need a good supply of water to absorb into their systems and help them grow.
- Be sure to remove your hermit crab from the aquarium after it has shed it's exoskeleton. During this time, they are not as strong as their new exoskeleton is not fully developed. Also, they don't have a new shell yet, so they are easily preyed upon by the other hermit crabs in the aquarium!
- Provide your hermit crabs with a refuge or shelter such as a small cave or hideout where they can go to molt.
- Make sure that you do not remove the old exoskeleton or "skin" after your hermit crabs are done shedding. Hermit crabs will eat their old skin as it is loaded with calcium and nutrients, essential for proper growth and development.
As you can certainly see, understanding hermit crab molting is very important.