Why Did My Hermit Crab Come Out of Its Shell: Reasons and Solutions

A hermit crab might want to leave their shell for many reasons, but the most common is shell evacuation. If you see your hermit crab starting to leave its shell more often, take it into your care immediately! Other factors that can cause a hermit crab to leave their shell include extreme temperatures, overcrowding, and illness. Keep an eye on its behavior and ensure it’s getting the appropriate amount of food and water to stay healthy and happy inside its shell.

What Is Shell Evacuation?

Shell evacuation is the process of hermit crabs expelling their shell to escape danger or discomfort. This often happens when the crab is stressed or when the shell is not comfortable or safe. If you don’t want the crab inside your home, the best way to deal with the hermit crab is to try shooing it away with a broom or vacuum cleaner. 

Remember: hermit crabs are creatures of habit, so if you remove their shell every time it comes out, shell evacuation will eventually stop altogether.

Although hermit crabs are adaptive and learn quickly, there may be times when they feel cramped inside their shells, or there might be changes in the environment that necessitate them emerging from their shells’ shelter. At such moments, they typically appear very agitated and look for any chance of escape – sometimes, this means dismantling old shelters rather than building new ones!

Symptoms of Shell Evacuation in Hermit Crabs

When hermit crabs leave their shells, they may experience several symptoms, such as molting, increased thirst, and appetite changes. It’s always fun to see a hermit crab come out of its shell, but it’s not always easy to determine when the crab is doing so voluntarily. If you’re not sure, always consult your veterinarian.

If you think your hermit crab has left its shell involuntarily, there are a few things you can do to help it return: keep the crab in fresh water and offer an enclosed space where it can hide; provide food items that it would typically eat (such as algae), and place soft objects around the tank, so the crab feels safe returning to its shell. 

Reasons Why Hermit Crabs Leave Their Shell


When stressed, hermit crabs will search for a new home. This is because when they are under pressure, their old shell doesn’t feel safe anymore, and it’s easier for them to move on. So try changing the environment or providing them with a new toy to reduce their stress levels. 

Doing so might involve you moving them to the ocean or somewhere where they can play freely – hermit crabs are very adaptable! So if you see your crab leaving its shell frequently, it may be due to stress, and you should take action accordingly by providing relief (e.g., by giving him a new toy).


This could mean underlying issues such as irritation caused by new surroundings, sudden temperature changes, or too much water. Alternatively, several common causes of hermit crab shell irritation can lead them to leave their shell – these include mites and fungus infestations. If you can identify the source of the problem and treat it accordingly, chances are your little one will soon return home!

Unsuitable Environment

When the environment inside a crab’s shell becomes unsuitable, it will often venture out. If left unmonitored and changes aren’t made, this can lead to some crabs getting lost or even killed! Crabs are compassionate creatures, and it is essential to consider their needs when setting up their home. It is also crucial that food and water are available consistently so that the crabs don’t leave the haven of their shell. 

Helping A Hermit Crab Return to Its Shell

Prepare the Shell for Your Hermit Crab

Preparation is the key to a successful hermit crab relocation! Here are some tips to help make the process as smooth as possible for you and your little buddy: First, ensure the shell you’re using is clean and free of any obstructions. If you have a second hermit crab, it’s best to put it in its shell, so it doesn’t get disturbed during the process. 

Place your hermit crab in the shell and make sure it’s comfortable – don’t force him out of the old one if he wants to stay put! You can leave him there for as long or short an amount of time as he takes – be patient!

Examine Your Hermit Crab

If you notice red patches on your hermit crab’s body, take it to a vet as soon as possible. If this isn’t feasible or your crab remains out of its shell for more than two days, it is probably sick or injured and needs help getting back home. 

If all else fails and you’re just unable to coax your hermit crab back into its shell- perhaps because it’s frightened or territorial- you might need to find another home. Hermit crabs require moisture, so placing them in a dry environment may do the trick!

Put the Hermit Crab in a Dark Place

Hermit crabs need darkness to regenerate their claws and other body parts. If the crab can’t get enough darkness, it will eventually die. To help your hermit crab, put it back in the shell as soon as possible after you take it out of the water. 

Ensure the tank is dark enough to regenerate – a place with low light levels might not be ideal for them! And finally, if there’s no place for your hermit crab to go and it dies within a few days or weeks, make sure you change its habitat so it can once again thrive in darkness!

Give Your Hermit Crab More Shells

Providing your hermit crab with enough shells is essential for its happiness and safety. If the shell supply runs out, your hermit crab may come out of its shell. This can be stressful for both the crab and you, so you must always ensure that you have enough shells on hand. 

Hermit crabs need a lot of shells to feel safe and secure – ideally, they should have around 200-300 per molt (or molting cycle). You can buy them or make them yourself; either way, keeping the extra shells in a safe place is essential so your hermit crab can find them when it needs them.

Manual Help

You can then provide manual assistance by gently nudging or picking up the hermit crab so that it can re-enter its shell. Before assisting, ensure the substrate is clean and dry – this will make the process easier for both of you. Some external factors may be at play if you’re finding it challenging to help your hermit crab get back into its shell. If all else fails, take the crab to a specialist for help! 

Be Patient

If you have tried the tips in this article and your hermit crab is still not eating or molting, it might be time to take it to a professional behaviorist or veterinarian. Ensure the environment is also suitable – provide plenty of shells and humidity. Finally, give your hermit crab some time – patience will eventually win the day!