Hermit Crab Foaming From The Mouth


by Simon Griffiths


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Do you love watching movies? If you do, allow me to paint a picture for you. A character foaming at the mouth spells disaster when we watch movies or television shows.

Now, back to our topic, hermit crabs will sometimes start to bubble or foam at the mouth. Only in this case, you might not be sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. This is what this article is here to answer.


Why do hermit crabs foam at the mouth?

Sometimes when you’re relaxing on the beach you might see a hermit crab crawling about with bubbles on the side of its mouth. Even hermit crabs that are kept as pets can exhibit these symptoms.

This can either be a normal occurrence, or it can mean that something is wrong. This will primarily depend on the color of the bubbles and the general state of the hermit crab.

Some of the reasons that can cause a hermit crab to foam at the mouth include the following;

1. Illness

The bubbles in this case will have a brown color, and the hermit crab will have a distinctly unpleasant smell coming from it. This can mean that the hermit crab is unwell, and the smell is a warning sign that it might be too late to save it and it is about to die.

Related Why Did My Hermit Crabs Die?

2. Injury

The foam coming from the mouth in the case of injury will also be brown. This is a result of the hermit crab experiencing a lot of pain and distress. Hermit crabs can get injured when they fight over shells.

3. Dehydration

Hermit crabs do not breathe oxygen directly from the air. They draw their oxygen from moisture in their gills so their gills must always remain moist. If the gills are not hydrated, the bubbles are just an attempt by the hermit crab to breathe using whatever supply of moisture it has left.

The bubbles will be clear in this case. If the hermit crab does not hydrate its gills soon, it could be fatal to them

4. Dirt in the shell

Hermit crabs store water in their shell for moistening their gills and keeping themselves alive during the molting process. When there is debris in the shell, the hermit crab becomes very uncomfortable so the bubbles are an attempt to try and cleanse the shell. The foam in this case will be clear in color.

5. Loneliness

Did you know that people are often discouraged from buying only one hermit crab to keep as a pet? Hermit crabs are social in nature. They love to interact with their fellow hermit crabs and forage and eat together.

If they are alone for too long, especially in a tank, they become very lonely. This causes them to develop stress and bubbling at the mouth is an indication of this stress.

6. Post-purchase syndrome

It can be very hard for hermit crabs to adapt to new surroundings. When hermit crabs are bought from the pet store and separated from other crabs, they can become stressed. This stress can also come about from being introduced to a new shell, a new tank and being handled too much.

This is why painted shells are highly discouraged. The chemicals in the paint are toxic to the hermit crabs and it makes them very uncomfortable.

Some of the ways that stress will show itself, in this case, including the shedding of limbs, lack of appetite, burrowing in the sand, and general lethargy and inactivity.

7. Pre-moulting stage

The foam or bubble in this case will have a grey-black color and is located on the underside of the hermit crab. This is very normal for hermit crabs. It is just a store of water, fat, and nutrients that are necessary for survival during the molting stage. Molting is the process whereby the hermit crab sheds its old exoskeleton to make room for its growing body. It happens several times over a hermit crab’s lifetime.

What can I do when my hermit crab is foaming?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the color of the foaming will tell you a lot about the condition of your hermit crab.

If the hermit crab is emitting brown foam, a foul odor, and appears to be unwell, it may be too late to save the hermit crab. The best you can do for it at this time is to isolate it from the rest so that they do not disturb it and wait for it to peacefully pass away.

If the foaming appears to be due to stress, re-evaluate the tank conditions. Check the temperature and humidity and act accordingly. You can also try providing fresh food and both freshwater and saltwater.

Remember that the containers in which you supply water should be clean and safe for them to climb in and out without drowning. You can use pebbles or a net for safety.

Related How To Make Safe Saltwater for Hermit Crabs

If after a while the crab does not stop foaming despite you making the environment conducive, it could slowly be dying.

If the foaming is due to injury from fighting with other crabs, isolate the hermit crab from the others and provide good conditions for recovery and destressing.

Some other things you can try include attempting to bathe the hermit crab, please note that this does not mean you should handle the hermit crab roughly and scrub it with a brush and soap. Just put it in a safe container that has hermit crab salt or oceanic salt and let it play about so that it can hydrate its gills and clean its shell.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Hermit Crab Foaming From The Mouth

Can a hermit crab live in a fish tank?

Yes, a hermit crab can live in any tank that is either glass or plastic, as long as it is spacious enough and temperatures and humidity levels are kept at an optimum level.

The humidity levels should be kept between 70% and 80% and this can be monitored using a hygrometer. Use a thermometer to make sure that the temperature DOES NOT go below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also use a fluorescent bulb or LED bulb to light the habitat for at most 12 hours a day. They will also thrive in a tank that has enough sand for them to burrow in during their molting phases.

Related Do Hermit Crabs Live in Water? And Can They Drown

Can I take a hermit crab to the vet?

Yes, you can. But please note that there is not much that can be done when a hermit crab is very ill. The best thing you can do is try to eliminate stress factors in your environment so that it can live out the rest of its days peacefully.

CONCLUSION – Crab foaming from the mouth

In conclusion, your hermit crab foaming should only be cause for concern if it has an unpleasant smell and the foaming is of a brown color. When this happens, sadly your hermit crab does not have a long time left.

In other cases, just try removing and altering any factors that may be causing it to stress and wait to see if the foaming will stop.

Simon Griffiths

Hi guys, my name is Simon, a fellow pet lover. I love everything about traditional and exotic pets so I am here to help you create a better home for your pets.

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