A less desirable part of pet ownership involves cleaning up hermit crab poop and pee (waste.) If you decide to get hermit crabs, you’ll need to remove fecal matter and urine from their tanks.
Hermit crabs produce black or brown poop inside their shells. Then, they use their rearmost legs to flick this solid, long, and thin waste onto the substrate. Urine is expelled from behind the antenna. Their poop and pee have no discernable odor.
Hermit crabs practice coprophagy (eating their own feces and that of other animals.) Like all living creatures, hermit crabs need to eat every day. They also spend time in the water, keeping their gills moist. As a result, they’ll swallow some of the liquid, which needs to be expelled as fecal and urinary waste.
Hermit Crab Poop Information
Hermit crabs must excrete their waste to stay healthy. So, constipated hermit crabs will be in distress.
The digestive process of hermit crabs is similar to mammals. Hermit crabs detect food using their antennae. Using their claws (chelipeds), they spoon food into their mouths. Small mouthparts grind this up, and the mashed food is passed to the gut.
Within 1-2 days, any processed food is released as feces or droppings. Hermit crabs poop regularly without your realizing it, as it’s a private activity for hermit crabs.
Do Hermit Crabs Poop in Their Shell?
Hermit crabs always pass feces within their shells. They have an anus, known as the telson, at the base of their anatomy. As you’d expect, this is where fecal matter exits the gut.
Hermit crabs remain in their shell throughout this process, as they feel vulnerable while eliminating. They can’t flee, so they maintain a constant state of high alert.
Hermit crabs know that leaving their shells to poop puts their lives in grave danger.
A hermit crab that isn’t protected by a shell would be plucked from the sand by a passing seagull. Even in captivity, a dominant hermit crab may steal its shell while it sits unoccupied.
As a result, hermit crabs eliminate within the shell. The hermit crab squirms around to move the fecal matter to the top of the shell. This sounds unsanitary, but hermit crabs are particular about cleanliness.
This is why the fecal matter is expelled from the shell. Hermit crabs use their short rearmost legs to flick waste out of their shell every day or two.
Then, hermit crabs bathe in saltwater to clean their shells.
What Does Hermit Crab Poop Look Like?
Healthy hermit crab poop will be black or dark brown. It’s usually about 10-15 mm long and sausage-shaped. The waste of hermit crabs will usually be quite long and curl to the right.
Hermit crab poop often features white flecks. In some cases, the waste will be pure white. This is usually a result of eating cuttlebone. Only be concerned if your hermit crab doesn’t feast on this foodstuff.
The poop of hermit crabs can vary. Some will leave smaller droppings that are a little more spherical. Others may leave a larger deposit, especially after a bout of constipation.
Hermit crab poop is flicked out of the shell, which may account for varying shapes and sizes. Your hermit crab may not be able to access all waste in one movement.
Some waste may also have been washed out in its saltwater bath.
Does Hermit Crab Poop Smell Bad?
Hermit crab waste doesn’t have any discernable scent. If you notice a strong smell coming from a hermit crab tank, it shouldn’t be related to excrement. If it does, this suggests that spot cleaning has lapsed for too long. Hermit crab poop may not smell to the human nose, but it can attract mold and bacteria.
In theory, this is no bad thing. A hermit crab aquarium can become its own thriving ecosystem. Hermit crabs eat insects, which, in turn, eat other smaller insects. Unfortunately, not all visitors to a hermit crab enclosure are equal.
As per the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, more insects in a habitat increase the likelihood of parasites. Left unmanaged, these can become the dominant species. If you smell poop, something is amiss.
Equally concerning is the attraction of flies to fecal matter. A fly infestation in a hermit crab habitat can be a real nuisance. These flies will lay eggs that birth maggots.
Do Hermit Crabs Poop a Lot?
An unhelpful myth occasionally circulates that hermit crabs rarely excrete waste. Hermit crabs eat every day and have small stomachs. How often do hermit crabs poop? At least once – and often multiple times – a day.
You may not notice this. As discussed, hermit crabs will not eliminate publicly. Your hermit crabs may be passing waste while climbing, playing, or even sleeping. You will never be any the wiser.
Cast a cursory eye over the substrate of your hermit crab enclosure each morning while your pets are sleeping. You should find a range of selection of hermit crab droppings for your delectation. This suggests that the bowels of your hermit crabs are functioning normally.
You may find that the quantity of waste produced by your hermit crabs fluctuates. This will be related to the desire for a varied diet. As per Animal Behavior, hermit crabs rarely eat the same thing twice in 24 hours.
Of course, different foods will have different effects on the digestive process of hermit crabs. For example, large quantities of fresh fruit will result in more waste.
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Their Own Poop?
Hermit crabs eat their own waste and that of tankmates. This is known as coprophagy. For example, if you keep marine hermit crabs, they’ll eat fish feces. As omnivorous scavengers, hermit crabs are not fussy about what they consume.
When they have saltwater, a hermit crab’s sense of smell is enhanced. This no doubt plays a part in the consumption of fecal matter. While the waste of hermit crabs smells neutral to us, it may smell like food to hermit crabs.
No harm is caused by hermit crabs consuming feces. If anything, they’ll get a second serving of essential vitamins and minerals. The only exception to this is if one of your hermit crabs has recently deceased.
Hermit crabs can die for a range of reasons, including toxicity. If a hermit crab ate something poisonous and expired, it may have gone to the toilet during the process. This increases the risk of another hermit crab consuming the toxins on a secondary level.
If you find a dead hermit crab in your tank, clean out the entire aquarium. The life of your remaining hermit crabs could depend upon it.
How to Clean Up Hermit Crab Poop
Hermit crabs are clean animals, so they’ll only tolerate so much poop in their enclosure. Spot cleaning is essential. Eventually, you’ll also need to arrange a deep clean of the habitat.
Spot cleaning is a simple process. Put on a pair of rubbish gloves and grab a bag. Pick out any waste that you see and throw it away. Don’t leave this lying around, waiting for your hermit crabs to eat it. Excrement left too long will attract germs and bacteria. It will also attract other inhabitants to the enclosure, such as flies.
Don’t neglect to check the bathing water because hermit crabs use this to clean poop off their shells. This could leave waste floating in the water. Change the water at least once a day.
Every three months, conduct a complete deep clean of the habitat. This involves cleaning the walls thoroughly and replacing the substrate. Wash any dishes, toys, and decorations in boiled water.
Hermit Crab Pee Information
Feces is not the only form of hermit crab waste. Hermit crab urine takes a slightly different form to excrement but is more common. As hermit crabs have small bodies, they can only retain so much water. Hermit crabs hydrate several times a day. This is achieved through:
- Scooping water from a dish into the mouth
- Submerging in a pool to bathe, swallowing water in the process
- Drinking water stored in the shell to keep the gills moist
Like feces, the urine of hermit crabs is rarely wasted. It may be recycled in shell water and drank at a later date.
How Do Hermit Crabs Pee?
Hermit crabs don’t urinate from the anus. Instead, they have antennal glands close to the eyes that are used to pee. You may never see this happen because hermit crabs can urinate without leaving their shells.
Hermit crabs aren’t fussy about where they urinate. They may pee on substate, against walls, or into a litter tray. Some hermit crabs urinate in their shells, although this is uncommon.
Hermit crabs frequently recycle urine into water. As long as your hermit crabs have not consumed chlorine or heavy metals, the urine will be safe to re-use and drink. All the same, change their water regularly.
Hermit crabs may pee on you during handling, at least at first. This is a response to a fear stimulus. You probably won’t notice. To be on the safe side, wear gloves or wash your hands after handling hermit crabs.
Do Hermit Crabs Pee a Lot?
Hermit crabs urinate regularly, but they do so in such small amounts that it’s virtually invisible to the naked eye. You could watch a hermit crab for hours and never realize that it has gone to the toilet.
Hermit crabs are territorial and will gravitate to assigned areas. This suggests that hermit crabs use urine to mark territory. The scent may be neutral to the human nose but is detected by fellow hermit crabs.
Sometimes, leaking shell water can be mistaken for hermit crab urine. If you see running water, this is almost certainly not urine. As discussed, hermit crabs are incapable of generating such power. Ensure your hermit crab is not drying out through water loss.
Does Hermit Crab Pee Smell Bad?
Hermit crab urine should have a neutral scent. They pee in such small quantities that you shouldn’t notice the aroma. Hermit crabs release ammonia gas when urinating, but not enough to create a distinctive smell.
If your hermit crab aquarium smells of urine, you’re likely not cleaning enough. The substrate of the habitat may play a part. Traditional play sand absorbs urine smells.
Check the water pools of your hermit crabs. If these have not been changed for a day or two, they may become pungent. The water will stagnate, with the smell of urinary waste coming to the fore.
How to Clean Up Hermit Crab Pee
As with poop, you need to spot clean the enclosure of your hermit crabs daily. Unlike feces, you cannot pick up pee. So, you’ll need a slightly different approach.
Wait for your hermit crabs to wake up so that you don’t disturb them. Take a spoon and stir around the substrate to prevent pools of urine from congealing in one place. Consider pouring filtered water on the substrate as hermit crabs will appreciate the moisture.
Raking the substrate with a fork will also be beneficial. Periodically wipe down walls and decorations, too. Hermit crabs don’t just urinate on the floor. They release urine all over their habitat, whether by accident or design.
As living animals, hermit crabs need to pee and poop. Just clean the habitat of your hermit crabs regularly.