Last Updated on October 19, 2023 by Joanne Harper
Hermit crabs are vulnerable animals that can be severely injured or die instantly from a fall. If a hermit crab falls off the table or out of your hands onto the floor, it can have life-ending consequences.
A hermit crab is unlikely to survive a fall of more than 3 feet. However, the chances of survival depend on how it lands, where it lands (surface type), and its physical size.
If a hermit crab falls on a limb, it’ll likely break off. However, a lost leg will regrow at the next molt. If a hermit crab falls on its shell, this will partially reduce the physical impact.
Regardless of how and where a hermit crab lands, it’ll be terrifying and 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 and traumatized by falls.
The distance between the table and the floor is likely more than 3 feet, which means the impact will probably hurt or kill a hermit crab near-instantly.
How Did Your Hermit Fall?
The chances of injury depend on how it landed:
- Limb-first: It may lose one or more 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 the damage, it’s still a tiny crustacean. Even with the conch (shell), it’ll still be vulnerable to the impact and the psychological effects.
How Big Is The Hermit?
Most hermit crabs weigh less than 8 ounces, with the heaviest weighing 1 pound. A fall off a 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, perhaps unscathed.
What Did The Hermit Land On?
Carpeted flooring may save a hermit crab from injury or death because it’s a softer surface.
That’s why most owners only handle their hermit crabs in carpeted, cushioned areas. You can also place rugs near the tank to prevent incidents if the hermit crab escapes and falls.
Sit on the floor in a carpeted area when handling hermit crabs to reduce the distance from the ground.
What To Do If I Dropped My Hermit Crab
Even experienced owners have dropped hermit crabs. Getting pinched suddenly or trying to hold several hermit crabs at once can lead to accidents.
This doesn’t always lead to injury or death, but the level of damage depends on the following:
- How far it fell: A tumble off your lap while sitting on the ground is less dangerous than a fall from a standing height.
- Condition of the shell: Old or damaged shells are more likely to crack, which may scratch, pinch, or crush a hermit crab. A compromised shell is less likely to provide adequate protection.
- How it landed: It’s safer for a hermit to land on its back because the shell will partially protect its legs and other delicate body parts.
- Where it landed: Falling against a tile, concrete, or hardwood surface will likely kill it.
Once a hermit crab has fallen, you should do the following:
- Check for damaged limbs and eyes. However, don’t try to pry out the hermit crab if it’s retreated into its shell because it needs time and space to recover mentally.
- Place it in the tank in a secluded area away from light, noise, and other hermit crabs.
- Provide food and water and ensure the hermit crab has enough sand to bury itself in.
- If the shell is cracked, leave several alternative shells nearby.
Hermit crabs can regrow limbs and recover from a range of injuries. However, much depends on how well they molt. Also, it could be months before a hermit crab molts its exoskeleton again.
Providing a hermit crab with nutritious food, alternative shell options, and sand to burrow gives it time to relax and heal. Avoid handling hermit crabs, especially in the aftermath of a bad fall.
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. Unfortunately, you’ll need to wait a while before you can assess the consequences of the fall.
Here are the implications of a hermit crab being dropped or falling from a height:
The impact and shock of a fall can be overwhelming, even if a hermit crab is in its shell.
This can cause hermit crabs to become stressed as they retreat and remain motionless inside their shells. The hermit crab is unlikely to emerge until it feels safe.
A motionless hermit could be a sign that it’s injured. 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 a hermit is unharmed.
If there’s damage, provide a range of robust, suitably-sized shells.
A hermit might not be moving because it has lost one or more limbs. The legs of a hermit crab are very delicate and can easily break off following a fall.
A hermit crab can recover, but it takes time. Hermit crabs can usually regrow damaged and broken limbs when they next molt. This will take months, but it’s likely to heal.
A hermit crab is unlikely to survive a fall of 3 feet or more.
You can determine whether a hermit crab is alive by tapping its head and checking for signs of movement. However, allow several days of recovery time before doing so.
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 because it’s vulnerable to:
- Bacterial infection.
- Injury from another fall.
- Fighting with other hermit crabs.
A hermit crab will likely leave the cracked shell for a new one at night when you’re not around. You can’t force this exchange but should encourage a shell swap by providing alternatives.
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.
If you notice an unusually pungent odor (fishy or rotten), the hermit crab has likely died.
After a fall, surviving hermit crabs will eventually want to exchange shells. It may have been startled if it abandoned the cracked shell and sought a new one in its already-stressed state.
Most hermit crabs will take this as a cue to change shells sooner, but it may have decided it was better to hide or wait until a threat has left or it’s feeling stronger.
The molting cycle can take several weeks, and a hermit crab won’t move much during this process. A hermit crab will bury itself in the sand but may get uncovered, leaving it feeling exposed.
To assist, carefully 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 behaviors. A hermit crab may be disoriented and confused while attempting to change shells.
It may also have a damaged tail, making it difficult to stay inside its existing shell. Unfortunately, hermit crabs in this state are often close to death.
Hermit crabs may survive a fall from 3 feet or less, especially if they land on a soft and padded area. Falling from higher up or landing on hard flooring, like tiles, is more likely to cause death.