Do Hermit Crabs Smell Bad? {My Experience}


by Simon Griffiths


I don’t know about you, but I like my pets clean and smelling fresh! Having to deal with bad odors in my house is always a big NO! I am pretty sure most of you prefer to keep low-maintenance pets; those that don’t require a lot of attention. Moreover, no one wants to have companions that stink.

Should I be worried about bad odors if I want to keep pet hermit crabs? Well, that is the question I’ll be responding to on this post.

So, do hermit crabs smell? It depends on the state of your tank and whether your hermit crab is stressed or not. As long as you are providing the best possible care, you should not worry about your hermit crabs stinking.

In fact, you can tell whether your hermit crab is happy by tracking the scent he or she produces. A healthy and happy crab won’t generate foul odors.

Without wasting much time, let’s dive right into the specifics of hermit crab odors and what you need to know about them.


Do Hermit Crabs Stink?

If you’ve dealt with aquatic pets or other crustaceans, then you clearly know that they have a distinct smell. This scent should not be a problem for your nose, but if it does, then you should not keep pet hermit crabs in the first place.

In any case, if you feel that the smell has become stronger, then something is clearly a miss with your hermit crab. It is either stressed, sick or it is dead already. Sometimes, your crab is not the problem, but the condition of the aquarium. If you fail to clean the cage or even neglect their habitats, then you are clearly inviting bad smells.

Make a habit of cleaning the hermit crab poop, emptying leftover food, and changing the water as well. This way, you’ll keep bad smells away.

Why Do Hermit Crabs Smell Bad?

A healthy or happy hermit crab is not supposed to generate foul odors, but if it happens, know that something is wrong. In that case, you should take action and determine what is amiss and how you can address it.

1. Stress

Studies show that crustaceans release pheromones when stressed. These pheromones can make the hermit crab stink. In most cases, a crab will become stressed when you first bring it home or when you handle it often. Hermies can also become stressed when the conditions in their tanks are not that great. We are talking about insufficient substrate, too much light at night, low humidity, and loneliness.

unless your new hermit crab is so stressed, it won’t release pheromones, but it will bury itself under the substrate. Most hermies do so as a way of distressing.

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2. High Temperatures

As is the case with most exotic pets, hermit crabs have specific temperature requirements. It the temperature in your tank exceed the recommended levels, then you might have a problem. In most cases, the crabs will start feeling uncomfortable and hide in the substrate. If the conditions fail to improve, then there is a chance that your hermies will start to dry out and smell musty.

This is why we advocate for the use of thermometers in the tanks. At least you can monitor the temperatures and correct them whenever they fall or rise beyond the recommended level.

Ensure that your crabs have two pools of water in the enclosure. Hermit crabs can submerge themselves in water whenever they need to cool off.

3. Poop Buildup

Do you know that hermit crabs do poop? In case you don’t know, make a point of checking our article on hermit crab poop as you might learn a thing or two.

Unlike most pets, hermit crabs prefer to poop where they live. Their dropping normally accumulates in the shells until the crab feels the need to empty it. Even when it gets rid of the poop, it does so in a specific location. Failure to clean the poop means that the cage will stink.

Small dropping won’t have any noticeable smell, but if the poop accumulates without being cleaned, the smell will only get worse. To avoid such problems, it is important to spot-clean the crabitat often. Make sure you also clean the shells regularly as some of them might have poop in them.

Related Do Hermit Crabs Poop and How Does it Come out of Their Shell 

4. Rotten Food and Spilled Water

Spoiled food is one of the major causes of hermit crab smells. There is no way you will leave excess food in the tank and expect your crabs to eat it all. These scavengers rarely over-eat and any leftover food will start decaying if you fail to clean it up.

We also mentioned that hermit crabs love to submerge themselves in salt water regularly. They do so as a way of cleaning themselves and also to replenishing their water reserves. Failure to change this water will lead to weird smells around the tank. You can imagine that this water will sometimes contain poop, urine, and dirt. So, why shouldn’t it stink if you fail to change it often?

Related How To Make Safe Saltwater for Hermit Crabs

Wrapping Up

From the above information, it is evident that hermit crabs do not smell bad unless you neglect them. If you want your crab and its habitat to smell fresh, then you have to be responsible. Clean the habitat regularly, change the water, empty leftover food, and keep the crabitat’s conditions as required.


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.