Post Purchase Stress

Your hermit crab has gone through a lot! from its home in the wild, travel and finally a tank at the pet store. We will go over Post Purchase Stress and how you can help your hermit adapt and recover from any injuries suffered during this transition. It is important to be gentle when handling your crab even though he appears to be acting normal. They are very sensitive.  


Many shops and pet stores lack humidity and keep them in open bins with no heat. These bins are bad for crabs, since….

  • Low humidity and tap water can damage their modified gills and slowly suffocate them. If the gills are not moist they dry and sometimes suffer irreversale damage.
  • Low temperatures can cause them to be immobile and lethargic. Lack of proper substrate can cause molting delay or surface molt. If there is a longer molt delay of 7 months it can build up a toxic level of crustecdysone (molting hormone) in its body and cause death.
  • Malnourished diets can stimulate cannibalism
  • Overcrowding can cause fights
  • Deficiency of proper shells can lead to fights and “shell jacking”
  • Dropping limbs due to high levels of stress

SNAPPYMLDrastic changes in environment can cause Environmental Stress. This has been a topic of debate and personal decision. Some crabbers prefer to place them in an isolation tank with a Relative Humidity of 60% and gradually raise it 5% every week for a month. Temperatures will stay the required 78° – 87°F.

Some crabs have adapted well being immediately introduced in the main tank with comfortable temperature of 78° – 87°F and RH 80%+. It is to you to use your judgement in what you believe is the best choice for your crab’s health.

If you witness animal neglect in pet stores report it.

Another topic that needs to be addressed is painted shells. They are very toxic and can make your hermit very ill. It is important we understand what our hermit crabs have been through. The purpose I am to disclose the following is to give perspective, especially when many wonder why their hermit crab died shortly after arrival, appear stressed or immobile for the first month or longer.

Hermit crabs are forced in painted shells using inhumane methods

  • Freeze the hermit crab in a refrigerator or similar to loosen their grip on their unpainted shell.
  • Heat the shell that the hermit crab is wearing with a flame until the hermit crab evacuates its unpainted shell in fright.
  • Drill a hole in the hermit crab’s natural shell and poke its abdomen until its shell less.
  • Shatter the hermit crab’s former shell using a hammer or similar tool.
  • Try to pull the hermit out. Most get ripped apart or in half.
  • Enclose them in a jar and release a gas that nearly kills them. Remove them from the shell, and use pure oxygen to revive them. They scuttle into the painted shells.
  • Some are electrocuted and shell drop, being left exposed.

Many crabs die within the month. Even if you have done every step and followed this guide. At times the damage is very severe and irreversible there is nothing you can do but offer somewhere peaceful where your crab can rest.

Its not about surviving but thriving in a tank that provides everything your new pet needs. It is very optimistic when a crab immediately tunnels down from weeks to months. Either for molting which helps heal and recover lost limbs and sometimes eyes; or destress. Offering honey to new crabs will help boost healing. Never undig your crab, they are very vulnerable during a molt and they are easily startled that can lead to death.


Hermit missing limbs – Emily Coker

This is why it is essential to leave your hermie alone for a minimum of four weeks upon purchase. It is understanding to want to interact and show affection with something you care for. You will do more giving them space, with time they will feel safe, be more active and interact with you through the glass. Your hermit thanks you.