Hermit crabs, like snakes, shed their
skin when they grow new and better skin. This process is called molting.
Molting happens naturally about every 18 months for a hermit crab, but
smaller hermits might molt more often. During the molting process the
crab will regrow any limbs it has lost.
When a hermit crab molts, it will dig a
tunnel into the sand so that it can have some privacy and protection
from the elements. It is best to provide your molter with a special
place to do his thing. If you can, buy a separate molting tank and fill
it with about six inches of sand or forest bedding. The sand or bedding
should be moist, but not dripping wet. You should be able to make a
mound in the substrate that stays put, like when you make a sand castle.
During the molting process it is best to
leave your hermit crab alone. Just a squirt of water over the molting
tunnel each day is enough to keep hermit happy. Once he has finished
molting he will emerge from his tunnel, but he wonít be completely
hardened yet. You really should leave him alone during the hardening
Donít be surprised if your hermit crab
looks smaller after he has molted, because he is smaller a little bit.
He will add to his size as he hardens and will get back into shape in no
time. There is no need to worry about your hermit crab during the
molting and hardening process, it is perfectly natural and he will feel
much better after it is over.
You will know when your hermit crab is
ready to molt when he starts to change his appearance. His eyes will
look foggy and he wonít move around as much. His antennae will look
funny, too, and wonít move much. He will also start to dig his tunnel,
but he might also dig if his conditions arenít the best, too, so be
sure to check the temperature and humidity of the tank when he starts to
tunnel before you assume that he is ready to molt.
One way to know for sure if your hermit
crab is about to molt when he digs a tunnel is to first check the
conditions of the tank. If the temperature and humidity are fine, then
just smooth the bedding out over the tunnel, without collapsing the
tunnel on him, and check in the morning to see if he came up to eat or
get a drink. Youíll know because there will be a new hole in the
bedding. If he has come up then he is probably not molting and is
digging for another reason. If he hasnít, then move him into his new
temporary molting home.
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