Hermit Crabs

Why Do Hermit Crabs Die? {6 Major Causes Revealed}


by Simon Griffiths


Do you know that most people refrain from keeping pet hermit crabs because they are difficult to care for? You might confuse them for low-maintenance pets, but this is not the case. As a matter of fact, hermit crabs tend to die pretty fast if you fail to provide them with the right care. If you’ve been keeping these little creatures for a long time, then you might have dealt with several dead crabs.  Sometimes they will just die and you won’t even know the reason. This brings us to our main question:

Why do hermit crabs die? Well, their death can be attributed to suffocation, stress, unsuccessful molting, fighting, inappropriate husbandry, shallow or wrong substrate, drowning, chlorinated water, and lack of shells. There might be other reasons, but these are the most common.

So, if you’ve been having this problem with your crabs, there is a high possibility that their death has been caused by one of the above reasons. Let’s get into further details about this topic so you can understand better and prevent future hermit crab deaths.

Why Do Hermits Crabs Die?

Knowing the common causes of hermit crabs’ death is the only way you can save other crabs from dying. Unlike other pets, hermies are delicate and must live in perfect conditions, otherwise, they might end up becoming sick or dying. Below are some of the reasons why hermit crabs die often


Do you know that land hermit crabs can drown? Well, most people often confuse them to be aquatic and they end up providing large or deep pools for them. As much as these critters need both freshwater and saltwater, you need to be considerate about the depth of their water dishes.

If the dishes or rather pools are too deep, your hermit crabs might be unable to swim or get out. Remember that land hermit crabs have modified gills and cannot breathe underwater. So, if your crabs have no way out of their pools, they will drown and die.


Suffocation is the leading cause of death in hermit crabs. As we’ve seen above, these creatures have modified gills and require high humidity in order to breathe. Unfortunately, first-time owners are not that great when it comes to maintaining the right humidity in the crabitat.

If the humidity is low, it means your hermit crabs will not breathe as required and will die a slow, painful death. It is hard to know whether your hermit crab is breathing properly, which is why you have to ensure that the humidity levels are just right. Make sure you use a hygrometer to keep track of the humidity in the tank

Unsuccessful Molting

When hermit crabs go into molting, they normally have a 50/50 chance of survival. This process is long and if anything goes wrong, your hermit crab won’t come out of it alive. In most cases, surface molts can lead to death, but sometimes they will survive and go on with life.

Failed molts can lead to deformities in crabs. These deformities can include lost limbs or something of the sort. When this happens, a crab can easily die.

Some crabs won’t even come out of their molts. You will just notice they have been buried for a longer period than normal. Other times you will smell a bad odor coming from their tank.


Research shows that hermit crabs are more likely to die of stress as compared to most exotic pets. Stress in these crabs can be brought about by so many things including handling, molting, poor conditions, and overcrowding.

Sometimes these crabs will distress by burying themselves, but if they don’t, they will stop eating and die slowly. Make sure your hermit crab stays happy by improving their tank conditions, providing them with toys to play with, and partners as well.

Wrong Husbandry

Hermit crabs will die pretty fast if the conditions in their tanks are not favorable. As you well know, these creatures require plenty of humidity, deep substrate, saltwater, freshwater, and temperature of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Failure to provide these requirements will definitely result in sickness or death. For instance, if the temperatures get too hot, then your hermit crab will die. Low humidity and lack of water will also lead to death by suffocation.

Lack of Shells

I am pretty sure you understand the importance of shells to hermit crabs by now. Shells do not just act as their home, but also offer protection to their delicate abdomens. So, on the off chance, that your hermit crab gets out of its shell and fails to find a new one, then it will die. Their abdomens are so soft and can get burnt if not covered by a shell.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, hermit crabs are very delicate creatures and can easily die if you neglect them. Check out this article on how to keep hermit crabs alive. I am pretty sure you’ll get some tips on how to prevent untimely deaths.


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.