Home » Can A Hermit Crab Survive A Fall?
Can A Hermit Crab Survive A Fall?

Can A Hermit Crab Survive A Fall?

Hermit crabs are gentle, non-aggressive pets that are super-friendly to kids and adults alike. They can be held and played with or made to explore obstacle courses on your kitchen table. However, they’re also fragile creatures and must be watched closely. If one takes a tumble off your table, out of your hand, or from any significant height, that can be deadly.

Hermit crabs are unlikely to survive a fall of more than 3 feet. This will depend on how it lands, where it lands, and how big the hermit is. If it falls on a limb, that appendage is likely to break or be ripped off. If it lands on its shell, this will cushion the impact, but it may still rattle the hermit crab around. If it fell on a fluffy carpet or mattress, this can prevent serious injury, and large hermits are more likely to recover than smaller ones.

The hermit might not die immediately upon impact, but it could eventually because of the stress. If the hermit’s shell is damaged, then encourage it to change shells as soon as you can. Hermit crabs can regrow limbs after several molts, but this takes months at a time. After a fall, be sure to pick up your hermit gently and return it to its enclosure. Provide it with food, water, shelter from other hermits, and wait to see how it fares.

Should I Worry If My Hermit Crab Fell Off The Table?

Even though hermit crabs are encased in a shell, they can still be injured by falls. The distance between the table and the floor is likely to be more than 3 feet. This means the impact of the fall might hurt or even kill your hermit crab.  

How Did Your Hermit Fall?

The chance of injury mainly depends on whether the hermit landed on its back first or its limbs.

  • If your crab landed limb-first, it will probably lose one of those appendages.
  • If your crab landed back-first, then its shell is more likely to cushion it from harm.

That doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe, though. While its thick exoskeleton will help to mitigate some of the damage, it’s still a small crustacean. Even with the conch or snail shell home, it doesn’t have the nigh-impenetrable skin of a true crab. This will leave it vulnerable to the external impact.

More so, a hermit crab’s body is not fully covered in a protective exoskeleton, according to Australian Correspondence Schools. That’s actually why hermit crabs borrow shells as their homes: to protect the delicate, lower half of their bodies. The impact of a fall may rattle the hermit within its shell, damaging those softer body parts.

How Big Is Your Hermit?

You also need to consider the size of your hermit. Most weigh no more than 8 ounces, with the heaviest being 1 pound. A fall off the table, or any other surface of equal height, is similar to dropping a king crab off a several-story building.

Larger hermits have a greater chance of surviving the fall, maybe even unscathed. For this reason, you should check the hermit crab’s shell for cracks before performing first aid.

What Did The Hermit Land On?

Carpet flooring may save your hermit crab from injury or potential death, especially if you have a fluffy rug. That’s why many owners choose only to handle their crustaceans in carpeted areas. You can also place rugs near the hermit’s enclosure in case it finds a way out of its tank.

It’s always best to sit on the floor while you handle the pet. This will safeguard it from potential accidents.

What To Do If I Dropped My Hermit Crab

Even the most loving and experienced owners have dropped a hermit crab before. Getting pinched suddenly, or trying to juggle several hermits at once, can easily lead to such accidents. This doesn’t always result in injury to death for your hermit, but you should take it seriously. The amount of danger your hermit is in depends on:

  • How Far It Fell: A tumble off your lap while you’re sitting on the ground is less dangerous than a fall from standing height.
  • The Condition Of Its Shell: Old or damaged shells are more likely to crack, and that may scratch, pinch, or crush your hermit all by itself.
  • How It Landed: As mentioned, it’s safest for a hermit to land on its back, as the shell will protect its legs and other delicate body parts.
  • Where It Landed: Making an impact on tile, concrete, or hardwood is very likely to damage your hermit, maybe even killing it.

After that, your biggest concern is treating the injury if you can and reducing the hermit crab’s stress levels. Such trauma will undoubtedly scare and rile the hermit up. While these crustaceans rarely get ill, they are highly vulnerable to the same or worse effects from stress. The trauma alone of being rattled around in their shells can make a hermit crab die within a few days, even if it wasn’t heavily injured.

Once your hermit crab has fallen, your response can dictate how well it recovers. You should start by:

  • Checking the shell for cracks
  • Gently picking the hermit up, careful of any damaged limbs
  • Do not try to poke or pry out the hermit if it’s retreated into its shell (as it’s very likely to do)
  • Place it in the tank in a secluded, safe area away from light, noise, or other hermits
  • Make sure food and water are available and that the hermit is near a sandy pit it can bury itself in
  • If the shell is cracked, encourage it to swap to a new shell by placing several options nearby

Hermit crabs are able to regrow limbs and recover from an impressive range of injuries. However, this all depends on how well they can molt, if at all. By giving your hermit crab food, shell options, and somewhere to burrow, you’re encouraging it to wind down and focus on healing.

The healing process won’t happen all at once. The hermit may wait months before undergoing a molt. However, this provides the best chance of recovering instead of getting overwhelmed and succumbing to the stress.

hermit crab fell off table

Hermit Crab Not Moving In Shell After Falling

If your hermit crab is not moving in its shell after falling, it is either stressed, injured, or dead. You will need to take a closer look and give your hermit a few hours to determine which.


The impact and shock of a fall can be too much for your hermit to bear, even if it’s in its shell. This can cause hermit crabs to become stressed or even depressed as it retreats and remains motionless inside its shell. The hermit is unlikely to emerge until it feels safe, so return it to the tank and wait.


A motionless hermit could be a sign that your pet is injured. You should check the crab’s shell for cracks and openings to determine if it has any wounds. Hermit crabs don’t bleed since they have an open circulatory system, so don’t take the lack of blood as a sign that your hermit is fine.

If there is obvious damage, set your hermit crab back in its tank and provide it with food, water, and more shells. If the injuries are too serious, you can consult a vet on what treatment options are available for your injured pet.

Lost Limbs

Your hermit might not be moving because it has lost one or two of its limbs. The limbs of a hermit crab are very delicate, able to break off after a fall.

The good news is, so long as the removal process wasn’t too gruesome or damaging to the main body of the hermit, it can recover. Hermit crabs will regrow their limbs over the course of several molts. This will take months, but the crustacean can fully heal.  


In a worst-case scenario, your hermit crab could be dead. Hermit crabs do not have a shell of their own, rather than living in borrowed homes. Their exoskeletons only cover the upper part of their body, leaving the rest vulnerable.

Considering this, your hermit crab is unlikely to survive a fall from 3 feet above. You can ascertain whether or not it’s alive by tapping its head and watching out for any movements.

Hermit Crab Shell Cracked

If your hermit crab shell is cracked, then it will need a replacement very soon. A cracked shell makes your hermit crab vulnerable to:

  • Infections
  • Dehydration
  • Injury from another fall
  • Fights with other hermits in the tank

Depending on the size, depth, and length of the crack, it may injure your hermit all by itself. The hermit’s delicate tail will be intertwined with the curved nature of the shell. Crevices and gaps may lead to pinching or cuts on this delicate body part.

No matter what, it’s very likely that the hermit will leave the cracked shell for a new one sooner or later. You cannot force this, but you should encourage it. Provide 5-6 options that are:

  • Sanitized
  • Free of paint or embellishments
  • Slightly different in shape, color, and texture

Hermit Crab Outside of Shell Not Moving

Hermit crabs are rarely found out of their shells. If they are, you can be sure they’re:

  • Injured
  • Ill
  • Undergoing a molt
  • In the process of changing shells, but got startled


After the fall, your hermit crab will be eager to change shells. If it abandoned the cracked home and ran for the new one in its already-stressed state, it might have been startled.

Most hermits will take this as a sign to change shells even faster, but yours may have decided it was better to hold still and lay low. It’s likely trying to hide or wait until a threat has left before it makes a run for safety (drawing attention to itself in the process).


A hermit crab might come out of its shell when it is molting. The molting cycle might take anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks. Your hermit crab will not move during this process, but it needs protection from other hermits living in the same aquarium. To achieve this, your hermit will bury itself in the sand, but it may get uncovered, leaving it in the open.

To help, try relocating the molting crab to an isolation tank until it completes the process. Another option is to build a protective dome made out of plastic.

Injured or Ill

Hermit crabs that are damaged or suffering from an illness (possibly from stress alone) can act strangely. Yours may be disoriented and got confused while attempting to change shells.

The hermit crab may also have a damaged tail, making it difficult to stay within its existing shell. Unfortunately, hermit crabs in this state are often close to death. You can try to provide a safe area for it, away from other hermits, and call a vet for a treatment plan.  

Hermit crabs can survive a fall, so long as it’s not from a height of 3 or more feet. In rare cases, hermits may pull through despite that kind of impact or still die from smaller falls. On the whole, you should check it over for injuries, provide it with a safe place to heal, and let the hermit do the rest.