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Can A Hermit Crab Survive A Fall?

Can A Hermit Crab Survive A Fall? [Impact of Drops And Falls]

(Last Updated On: August 20, 2022)

Hermit crabs are vulnerable creatures that can be injured or die from a fall. If a hermit crab falls off the table or out of your hands onto a solid surface, it can have life-ending consequences.

A hermit crab is unlikely to survive a fall of more than 3 feet. However, its chances of survival depend on how it lands, where it lands (surface type), and its overall size.

If a hermit crab falls on a limb, that appendage might break off, but it’ll grow back during the next molt. If a hermit crab falls on its shell, this will cushion the impact but still cause significant stress.

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

Even though hermit crabs have a shell, they can still be injured or traumatized by falls.

The distance between the table and the floor is likely more than 3 feet, which means the impact will likely hurt or kill the hermit crab.  

How Did Your Hermit Fall?

The chances of injury depend on how it landed:

  • Limb-first: It may lose one of its appendages (legs).
  • Back-first: The shell is more likely to cushion it from harm.

While a hermit crab’s exoskeleton will partially mitigate some of the damage, it’s still a small crustacean. Even with the conch (shell), it’ll still be vulnerable to the impact.

How Big Is Your Hermit?

Most hermit crabs weigh less than 8 ounces, with the heaviest weighing 1 pound. A fall off the table, or a similar height, is like dropping a king crab from chest height.

Larger hermit crabs have a better chance of surviving a fall, maybe even unscathed.

What Did The Hermit Land On?

Carpeted flooring may save your hermit crab from injury or death, especially if it’s soft.

That’s why most owners only handle their hermit crabs in carpeted, cushioned areas. You can also place rugs near the hermit crab’s tank in case it escapes and falls.

Sit on the floor in a carpeted area when handling hermit crabs.

What To Do If I Dropped My Hermit Crab

Even some experienced owners have dropped their hermit crabs. Getting pinched suddenly, or trying to hold several hermit crabs at once, can lead to unfortunate accidents.

This doesn’t always lead to injury or death, but the amount of damage depends on:

  • How far it fell: A tumble off your lap while sitting on the ground is less dangerous than a fall from standing height.
  • Condition of the shell: Old or damaged shells are more likely to crack, which may scratch, pinch, or crush a hermit crab.
  • How it landed: It’s safer for a hermit to land on its back, as the shell will partially protect its legs and other delicate body parts.
  • Where it landed: Making an impact on tile, concrete, or hardwood will likely damage your hermit crab, perhaps even killing it.

After that, the main concern is treating the injury if you can and reducing the hermit crab’s stress levels.

Once a hermit crab has fallen, your response dictates its chances of recovery. Do the following:

  • Examine the shell for cracks.
  • Gently pick the hermit up by the shell, checking for damaged limbs.
  • Don’t try to pry out the hermit crab if it’s retreated into its shell.
  • Place it in the tank in a secluded, safe area away from light, noise, and other hermit crabs.
  • Ensure food and water are available and that the hermit crab has sand it can bury itself in.
  • If the shell is cracked, encourage it to swap to a new shell by placing several alternatives nearby.

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

A hermit crab may have to wait several months before undergoing a molt.

hermit crab fell off table

Hermit Crab Not Moving In Shell After Falling

If a hermit crab isn’t moving in its shell after falling, it is either stressed, injured, or dead. So, you’ll need to wait a while before you can identify the outcome of the fall.


The impact and shock of a fall can be too much, even if it’s in its shell.

This can cause hermit crabs to become stressed or depressed as it retreats and remains motionless inside its shell. The hermit crab is unlikely to emerge until it feels safe.


A motionless hermit could be a sign that it’s injured. So, check its shell for cracks and openings to determine if it has any cuts and abrasions.

Hermit crabs don’t bleed since they have an open circulatory system, so never assume that a lack of blood is a sign that your hermit is doing fine.

If there’s obvious damage, put the hermit crab back in its tank and provide food, water, and more shells.

Lost Limbs

A hermit might not be moving because it has lost one or two limbs. The limbs of a hermit crab are very delicate and can break off due to a fall.

A hermit crab can recover as long as the limb loss isn’t too damaging to the body. Hermit crabs can regrow their limbs over the next few molts. This will take months, but it’s likely to heal fully.  


A hermit crab is unlikely to survive a fall from 3 feet or more. You can determine whether a hermit crab is alive by tapping its head and checking for any signs of movement.

Unfortunately, it may be the case that a hermit crab has died due to its injuries or shock.

Hermit Crab Shell Cracked

If a hermit crab’s shell is cracked, it’ll need a replacement shell, as it’s vulnerable to:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Dehydration
  • Injury from another fall
  • Fighting with other hermit crabs

The hermit crab will likely leave the cracked shell for a new one soon. You can’t force this exchange, but you should encourage a shell swap by providing alternative shells.

Hermit Crab Outside of Shell Not Moving

Hermit crabs are rarely found out of their shells. If a hermit crab has left its shell, it’s likely:

  • Changing shells
  • Molting
  • Injured
  • Ill
  • Dead


After a fall, hermit crabs will eventually want to change shells. If it abandoned the cracked shell and sought out a new one in its already-stressed state, it might have been startled.

Most hermit crabs will take this as a sign to change shells even sooner, but it may have decided it was better to hide or wait until a threat has left or it’s feeling better.


The molting cycle can take several weeks, and a hermit crab won’t move during this process. To achieve this, a hermit will bury itself in the sand, but it may get uncovered, leaving it exposed.

To assist, relocate the molting hermit crab to an isolation tank until it completes its molt.

Injured or Sick

Hermit crabs that are damaged or unwell, possibly due to stress, can display unusual behavior. Your hermit crab may be disoriented and get 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.

Hermit crabs can usually survive a fall, as long as it’s not from a height of 3+ feet. Check it over for injuries and provide a safe place where it can hide and heal in its own time.