Molting is an extremely stressful time for hermit crabs. Many hermit crabs in captivity die due to hermit crab molting related problems.
As a survival mechanism, hermit crabs possess the ability to secrete a hormone that delays molting for short time periods until they feel comfortable in their environment. However, if excessive levels of the molt-inhibiting hormone build up in the hermit crab’s body, the hermit crab will die of stress.
Many hermit crabs die in captivity due to this particular reason, because their owners fail to provide them with an ideal terrarium set up.
Hermit Crab Molting Guidelines
Below are some important points to keep in mind to encourage a healthy hermit crab molting process for your pet when necessary.
- Humidity – Humidity must be maintained between 72% – 82% at all times: Hermit crab molting can only take place when your pet can breathe properly.
- Darkness - Most hermit crabs will not moult unless they are in pitch darkness. This is why hiding places and a deep substrate must be offered to hermit crab.
- Access to sufficient amounts of sea salt: Salt water is not used by hermit crabs for “bathing” alone. Sea salt is needed by hermit crabs to build up enough hydrostatic pressure in their bodies to crack and shed their exoskeleton. Check that the salt water is concentrated enough.
- Warmth – This is still debatable. Although hermit crabs need warm temperatures in their normal daily life above the substrate surface, they are able to successfully molt and recover whilst buried in cooler regions of the substrate.
- Privacy – Avoid fiddling with the pre-molt hermit crab. Hermit crabs will be reluctant to molt if they are overcrowded. Molting hermit crabs are very vulnerable to attacks by other hermit crabs, because they are very soft without their exoskeleton. Provide plenty of room for your hermit crabs so that they can be left undisturbed for long periods of time. Molting hermit crabs have been mauled or cannibalized by their tank mates due to overcrowding.
- Ideal substrate – Most hermit crabs will bury themselves before moulting. The substrate must be deep enough for the hermit crab to bury itself completely. This is why substrate choice is extremely important. Some substrates are safe for moulting, while others are not. Gravel and wood shavings are examples of “bad” substrates, while sand and coconut fibre have supported many molting hermit crabs.
- The right hermit crab food - Hermit crabs molt only when they have sufficient energy to do so. They need to be fed a wide variety of foods to grow. Remember, proteins from meat are essential for growth.
When these conditions are all set in place, your hermit crab will be able to easily molt without being stressed out.
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