Why Won’t My Hermit Crab Eat: Common Reasons and Solutions

Why Won't My Hermit Crab Eat: Common Reasons and Solutions

Do you have a hermit crab that’s refusing to eat? It can be worrisome when our beloved pets show signs of not eating, but don’t panic just yet. There are several common reasons why your hermit crab may not be eating, and luckily there are solutions available too. In this blog post, we will explore these possible reasons and provide practical solutions to encourage your hermit crab to start eating again. Let’s dive in!

Possible Reasons for Hermit Crab Not Eating

Hermit crabs may refuse to eat if they are experiencing stress or illness, which can be caused by factors like sudden environmental changes, improper handling, or the presence of harmful bacteria.

1. Inadequate Habitat Conditions: Poor living conditions such as incorrect temperature, humidity levels, or lack of hiding spots can lead to a decrease in appetite and overall health.

2. Stress or Illness: Hermit crabs may refuse to eat if they are experiencing stress or illness. Factors like sudden environmental changes, improper handling, or the presence of harmful bacteria can contribute to these issues.

Inadequate Habitat Conditions

Insufficient humidity levels can significantly impact the health of your hermit crab. These creatures require a specific level of moisture in their environment to thrive. If the humidity is too low, it can cause dehydration and lead to lack of appetite and energy.

Lack of proper temperature gradients can also contribute to your hermit crab’s reluctance to eat. These animals rely on temperature variations within their habitat to regulate their metabolism and digestion processes. Without these gradients, they may become sluggish and lose interest in food.

Poor substrate quality is another factor that can affect your hermit crab’s appetite. The substrate should provide a comfortable surface for them to walk on and dig into, as well as retain moisture effectively. Inadequate substrate quality may cause discomfort or excessive dryness, making it difficult for the hermit crab to move around or find suitable places to eat or drink.

By addressing these inadequate habitat conditions such as insufficient humidity levels, lack of proper temperature gradients, and poor substrate quality you will be taking important steps towards ensuring a healthy appetite for your beloved hermit crab

Stress or Illness

  • Recent relocation or change in environment.
  • Presence of parasites or infections.
  • Physical injuries or malformations.

If your hermit crab is not eating, it could be due to stress or illness. Recent relocations or changes in the environment can disrupt their appetite and cause them to eat less. Additionally, the presence of parasites or infections can make them feel unwell and affect their desire to eat. It’s also possible that physical injuries or malformations are causing discomfort, leading to a decrease in appetite. If you notice any of these factors, it’s important to address them promptly to ensure your hermit crab stays healthy.

Molting Period

Preparing for the molting process, hermit crabs undergo a period of preparation where they become more reclusive and less interested in food. During this time, it is normal for them to lose their appetite and exhibit post-molt refusal. This is because molting takes a toll on their energy levels and they need time to recover before eating again.

Post-molt refusal is an important part of the molting process as it allows hermit crabs to fully recover and regain strength. It may seem excessive that they do not eat immediately afterward, but it is crucial for their health. It’s essential to provide them with a healthy environment, including proper temperature, humidity, and fresh water supply during this delicate phase so that they can successfully overcome their molt without any complications.

Food Preferences

Inappropriate food choices provided by the owner: Providing hermit crabs with an excessive amount of unhealthy or unsuitable foods can greatly affect their appetite and overall health. Avoid offering them processed or high-sugar snacks, as well as any food that may contain harmful additives.

Lack of variety in diet leading to disinterest in eating: Hermit crabs have preferences for specific types of food, such as fresh fruits and protein-rich diets. Offering a limited range of options can lead to boredom and disinterest in eating. Ensure you provide a diverse selection of nutritious foods to keep your crab’s appetite stimulated.

Incompatibility with Tank Mates

  • Aggression or bullying from other tank mates can cause stress and prevent hermit crabs from eating.
  • Dominance hierarchy issues within the tank may affect feeding behavior, as lower-ranking crabs may be intimidated by more dominant ones.
  • Competition for limited resources such as food and hiding spots can lead to decreased appetite in hermit crabs.

It is important to ensure a healthy environment for your hermit crab by addressing these compatibility issues with tank mates.

Solutions for Encouraging Hermit Crab to Eat

If your hermit crab is refusing to eat, there could be a few reasons why. First, ensure that the habitat conditions are optimal by maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels in the tank. Additionally, try providing a variety of foods to stimulate their appetite and meet their nutritional needs. Creating a stress-free environment by minimizing disturbances and providing hiding spots can also encourage them to eat. Keep an eye on molting periods as hermit crabs may not have an appetite during this time. Lastly, consider separating incompatible tank mates if they are causing stress or competition for food resources.

Optimizing Habitat Conditions

Maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels is crucial for optimizing habitat conditions for hermit crabs. These creatures are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, so it’s important to keep the temperature between 75-85°F (24-29°C) and humidity at around 70-80%. Providing a suitable substrate, such as sand or coconut fiber, allows hermit crabs to burrow and create a comfortable home within their tank. Additionally, ensuring sufficient hiding places and climbing structures gives them opportunities for exploration and creates a sense of security in their habitat.

Providing a Variety of Foods

Offering a variety of foods is crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of your hermit crab. Commercial hermit crab food comes in different types and should be included in their diet. Additionally, incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens provides essential nutrients. To further support their calcium needs, supplement their diet with calcium-rich foods like cuttlebone or crushed eggshells.

Creating a Stress-Free Environment

Avoid sudden loud noises or vibrations near the tank. Hermit crabs are sensitive creatures and can easily become stressed by unexpected disturbances. Minimize handling to reduce stress on the hermit crab. Excessive handling can cause anxiety and make it difficult for them to adjust to their environment. Keep tank decorations clean to prevent harmful bacteria growth. Dirty decorations can lead to poor water quality and health issues for your hermit crab.

  • Place the tank in a quiet area away from loud appliances or sources of vibration.
  • Handle your hermit crab gently and only when necessary.
  • Clean tank decorations regularly with non-toxic cleaning solutions.
  • Avoid overcrowding the tank with unnecessary objects that may create stress for your hermit crab.

Monitoring Molting Periods

Recognizing signs of molting, such as burying themselves in substrate, is crucial during the molting process. This behavior indicates that your hermit crab is preparing to shed its exoskeleton and grow. Providing extra moisture during this period is essential for a successful molt, as it helps soften the old exoskeleton and makes shedding easier. Additionally, giving them privacy and avoiding disturbing their molted exoskeleton ensures a stress-free environment for your hermit crab during its molting period.

Separating Incompatible Tank Mates

Avoid housing aggressive or overly territorial species together to prevent conflicts and ensure a harmonious tank environment. Conduct thorough research on compatible tank mates before introducing new ones, as certain fish, crustaceans, or invertebrates may not coexist peacefully. It is important to pay close attention to any signs of aggression or bullying behavior between crabs, such as excessive chasing or shell stealing, and take immediate action by separating the incompatible individuals.

Could my hermit crab be deficient in any nutrients?

Hermit crabs, like all living organisms, require a balanced diet to maintain optimal health and well-being. While they are generally hardy and adaptable creatures, it is possible for them to develop nutrient deficiencies if not provided with the necessary nutrients. Here are some key nutrients that are important for the well-being of hermit crabs and signs of potential deficiencies:

1. Calcium: Calcium is crucial for the development and maintenance of a hermit crab’s exoskeleton. A deficiency in calcium can lead to softening or deformities in the shell. Signs of calcium deficiency may include a white, chalky appearance of the shell, shell erosion, or difficulty in molting.

2. Protein: Protein is essential for growth, repair, and overall health. A lack of protein can result in stunted growth and a weakened immune system. Signs of protein deficiency may include slow growth, weakness, loss of appetite, or susceptibility to infections.

3. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide energy and are an important part of a hermit crab’s diet. A deficiency in carbohydrates may lead to sluggishness, decreased activity, or a lack of appetite.

4. Vitamins: Hermit crabs require a variety of vitamins to support various bodily functions. Vitamin deficiencies can manifest in different ways depending on the specific vitamin lacking. For example, a deficiency in vitamin A might cause problems with vision or skin health, while a deficiency in vitamin E can result in reproductive issues.

To prevent nutrient deficiencies, it is important to provide a well-rounded and varied diet for your hermit crab. This can include a combination of commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasional treats such as dried shrimp or mealworms. It is also recommended to provide a calcium source, such as crushed eggshells or cuttlebone, for your hermit crab to consume.

In addition to a balanced diet, it is important to ensure that your hermit crab’s habitat is properly maintained. This includes providing clean, chlorine-free water for drinking and bathing, maintaining the correct temperature and humidity levels, and regularly cleaning and replacing substrate.

If you suspect that your hermit crab may be deficient in certain nutrients, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets. They can provide a thorough assessment of your hermit crab’s health and make recommendations for any necessary dietary adjustments or supplementation.

In conclusion, nutrient deficiencies can occur in hermit crabs if they are not provided with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. By understanding the importance of key nutrients and providing a varied diet, you can help ensure the overall health and well-being of your hermit crab.

What should I do if my hermit crab won’t eat?

Hermit crabs are fascinating and low-maintenance pets, but like any living creature, they may experience periods where they refuse to eat. If your hermit crab isn’t eating, it’s important to act promptly to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some steps you can take to address this issue:

1. Assess the living conditions: Begin by evaluating the hermit crab’s habitat. Ensure that the temperature and humidity levels are within the recommended range for their species. Hermit crabs are most comfortable in an environment with temperatures around 75-85°F (24-29°C) and humidity levels between 70-80%. Adjusting any environmental factors that may be off can help stimulate their appetite.

2. Check for any signs of illness: Monitor your hermit crab for any visible signs of illness or injury. Look for abnormalities such as lethargy, unusual discoloration, or physical damage to their exoskeleton. These symptoms may indicate an underlying health issue that could contribute to the loss of appetite. If you notice any concerning signs, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

3. Offer a variety of food options: Hermit crabs have diverse dietary needs, and they enjoy a range of different foods. Make sure you are providing them with a varied diet consisting of commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasional treats such as dried shrimp or mealworms. Experiment with different food options to see if there are any preferences that may entice your hermit crab to eat. It’s important to note that hermit crabs are scavengers and may eat small amounts throughout the day, so make sure to remove any uneaten food and replace it with fresh options regularly.

4. Ensure proper nutrition: Nutrient deficiencies can also lead to a loss of appetite in hermit crabs. Make sure that the food you are offering is nutritionally balanced and meets their dietary needs. Commercial hermit crab food should be the staple of their diet, as it is specifically formulated to provide the necessary nutrients. Supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe for them to consume, such as carrots, peas, and apples. Avoid giving them foods that are high in salt, sugar, or additives, as these can be harmful to their health.

5. Provide a comfortable and stress-free environment: Hermit crabs are sensitive creatures and can be easily stressed by changes in their environment. Ensure that their habitat is set up properly with appropriate substrate, hiding spots, and climbing structures. Avoid loud noises, sudden movements, and excessive handling, as these can cause stress and discourage eating. Creating a calm and peaceful environment can help stimulate their appetite and overall well-being.

6. Seek professional advice: If your hermit crab continues to refuse food despite your best efforts, it’s important to seek professional advice from a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets. They can conduct a thorough examination and provide guidance on how to address the issue. They may recommend additional tests or treatments to help identify and resolve any underlying health concerns that may be impacting your hermit crab’s appetite.

By following these tips and seeking professional advice when needed, you can help ensure that your hermit crab stays healthy and maintains a good appetite. Remember to observe your hermit crab’s eating habits and behavior closely, as any significant changes may be a sign of a larger issue. With proper care and attention, you can help your hermit crab thrive and enjoy a varied and nutritious diet.

Could my hermit crab be stressed?

Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures and can make great pets. However, like any living organism, they can experience stress. Understanding the signs of stress in hermit crabs is crucial to ensuring their well-being and taking appropriate action to alleviate any stressors.

Here are some common indicators that your hermit crab might be stressed:

1. Shell Dwelling: If your hermit crab spends an excessive amount of time inside its shell and rarely ventures out, it could be a sign of stress. Normally, hermit crabs love to explore their surroundings, so a reclusive behavior may indicate an issue.

2. Aggression or Fearful Behavior: Hermit crabs that exhibit aggressive or fearful behavior, such as pinching, snapping, or hiding in their shells when approached, may be stressed. This behavior can be triggered by environmental factors, inadequate habitat conditions, or even lack of socialization.

3. Shell Changes: Pay attention to any unusual changes in your hermit crab’s shell. If it appears damaged, worn out, or has excessive algae or other growth, it could indicate stress. Hermit crabs rely on their shells for protection, so any issues with their shell can cause distress.

4. Molting Problems: Molting is a natural process for hermit crabs, where they shed their exoskeleton to grow. However, if a hermit crab experiences difficulties molting, such as prolonged periods between molts, unsuccessful molts, or being unable to shed their exoskeleton completely, it can be a sign of stress. Molting requires a safe and stress-free environment, so any issues during this process may indicate underlying stressors.

5. Loss of Appetite: A decrease in appetite can be an indication of stress in hermit crabs. If your hermit crab is no longer showing interest in its food or is eating significantly less than usual, it may be experiencing stress. This could be due to changes in its environment, temperature, or other factors causing discomfort.

6. Abnormal Behavior: Any sudden or abnormal changes in your hermit crab’s behavior, such as excessive hiding, excessive grooming, or unusual aggression, can be signs of stress. It’s important to monitor your hermit crab closely to identify any unusual behavior that may indicate stress.

If you notice any of these signs of stress in your hermit crab, it’s important to take action to alleviate the stressors and provide a more comfortable environment. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Evaluate the Habitat: Ensure that your hermit crab’s habitat is suitable and meets its needs. This includes providing the proper temperature, humidity, substrate, and hiding spots. A stressful environment can be a major cause of stress in hermit crabs, so make sure all the necessary conditions are met.

2. Offer Enrichment: Provide your hermit crab with opportunities for mental and physical stimulation. This can include adding items to their enclosure for them to explore, such as rocks, plants, and shells of various sizes. You can also try adding different textures and materials for them to interact with, such as sand, gravel, or moss. Enrichment activities can help reduce stress and keep your hermit crab engaged and entertained.

3. Maintain a Consistent Routine: Hermit crabs thrive in a stable and predictable environment. Try to establish a consistent routine for feeding, cleaning, and interacting with your hermit crab. This will help reduce stress and provide a sense of security for your pet.

4. Minimize Handling: While it’s important to provide socialization and interaction for your hermit crab, it’s also crucial to minimize excessive handling. Hermit crabs are sensitive creatures and can become stressed if they are handled too frequently or roughly. Limit handling to necessary tasks, such as transferring them to a temporary container for cleaning or maintenance.

5. Reduce Noise and Disturbances: Hermit crabs are naturally shy and prefer quiet and peaceful environments. Excessive noise, vibrations, or disturbances can cause stress for your hermit crab. Try to keep their enclosure in a calm and quiet area of your home, away from loud noises or high-traffic areas.

6. Consult a Veterinarian: If you have tried all the above steps and your hermit crab continues to show signs of stress, it may be necessary to consult a veterinarian. A veterinarian experienced in exotic pets can help diagnose and address any underlying health issues or provide additional guidance on how to alleviate stress for your hermit crab.

7. Monitor Water Quality: Hermit crabs rely on water for hydration and to maintain their shells. It is important to regularly check the water quality in their habitat. Use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals from tap water, and provide both fresh and saltwater options for your hermit crab. Additionally, ensure that the water is at the correct temperature and is regularly changed to prevent bacterial growth.

8. Provide Proper Diet: A well-balanced diet is essential for the overall health and well-being of your hermit crab. Offer a variety of foods such as commercial hermit crab pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein sources like cooked meat or seafood. Avoid feeding your hermit crab food that is high in salt, sugar, or preservatives, as these can cause health issues and contribute to stress.

9. Monitor Temperature and Humidity: Hermit crabs require specific temperature and humidity levels to thrive. Use a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor these conditions in their habitat. The ideal temperature range for hermit crabs is between 70-80°F (21-27°C), and humidity should be kept around 70-80%. Make sure to provide a heat source and a misting system or a damp sponge to maintain the proper environment.

10. Observe Behavior: Pay close attention to your hermit crab’s behavior to identify any signs of stress. Common signs of stress in hermit crabs include excessive hiding, prolonged periods of inactivity, loss of appetite, aggressive behavior, and shell damage. If you notice any of these signs, take immediate action to address the cause of stress and provide a more suitable environment for your hermit crab.

In conclusion, ensuring a stress-free environment is crucial for the health and well-being of your hermit crab. By providing a suitable habitat, monitoring water quality, offering a proper diet, maintaining temperature and humidity levels, and observing behavior, you can help alleviate stress and promote a happy and thriving hermit crab. Remember to consult a veterinarian if your hermit crab continues to show signs of stress despite your best efforts. With proper care and attention, your hermit crab can live a long and healthy life.

Could the environment be making my hermit crab not eat?

Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures known for their unique behaviors and habitat requirements. As crab owners, it is essential to understand the various factors that can influence their well-being. One commonly encountered concern is the possibility of an adverse environment affecting a hermit crab’s eating habits.

1. Temperature and Humidity:

Hermit crabs are ectothermic animals, which means their body temperature is regulated by their environment. Inadequate temperature and humidity levels can have a direct impact on a hermit crab’s metabolic processes, including its appetite. Low temperatures can slow down their digestive system, leading to reduced hunger. Conversely, excessively high temperatures may cause dehydration and stress, further affecting their feeding behavior. Ensure your hermit crab’s enclosure maintains optimal temperature and humidity levels based on its species-specific requirements.

2. Lighting:

Proper lighting is crucial for the well-being of hermit crabs, as it influences their circadian rhythm and overall activity levels. Inadequate lighting or irregular day-night cycles can disrupt their natural feeding patterns. A lack of light can lead to a decrease in appetite, while excessive or constant brightness may cause stress and disorientation. It is advisable to provide a light source that mimics their natural habitat, including a consistent day-night cycle, to promote a healthy feeding routine.

3. Water Quality:

Hermit crabs require access to both freshwater and saltwater sources, as they need to regulate their internal salt levels. Poor water quality can have a significant impact on their overall well-being, including their appetite. Chlorinated or contaminated water can be toxic to hermit crabs, leading to stress and decreased feeding. Ensure that the water in their habitat is properly treated and regularly monitored for any signs of contamination.

4. Enclosure Size and Layout:

The size and layout of the hermit crab’s enclosure can also affect their feeding behavior. If the enclosure is too small or cluttered, it may limit their movement and access to food sources. Additionally, a poorly designed habitat can disrupt their natural foraging instincts, leading to a decrease in appetite. Provide a spacious and well-structured enclosure that allows your hermit crab to explore and find food easily.

5. Social Interaction:

Hermit crabs are social animals and thrive in the presence of other crabs. A lack of social interaction can cause stress and affect their feeding behavior. If you only have one hermit crab, consider introducing a companion to provide them with a sense of companionship and stimulation. However, it is crucial to ensure compatibility between the crabs and provide adequate space and resources for each crab.


As responsible hermit crab owners, it is important to consider the impact of the environment on their feeding patterns. By addressing and optimizing factors such as temperature, humidity, lighting, water quality, enclosure size and layout, and social interaction, we can promote a healthy feeding routine for our hermit crabs. Providing a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat will help ensure their overall well-being and happiness. Remember to regularly monitor and adjust these factors as needed to maintain a balanced and nourishing diet for your hermit crabs.


In summary, there are several common reasons why hermit crabs may not be eating. These include stress from environmental changes, improper diet and nutrition, health issues such as molting or infection, and inadequate habitat conditions. It is important to seek professional help if the issue persists to ensure the well-being of your hermit crab.

Seeking professional help is crucial if your hermit crab continues to refuse food. A veterinarian with experience in exotic pets can provide valuable insight into identifying any underlying health issues and recommend appropriate treatment. Ignoring persistent feeding problems could have serious consequences for your pet’s overall health and longevity. Don’t hesitate to reach out for expert advice in order to address the problem effectively and promote a healthy eating routine for your beloved hermit crab.