A study by Animal Cognition found that hermit crabs could escape their tanks by switching to smaller shells. This allowed them to climb and squeeze through the opening at the top.
To illustrate that hermit crabs can problem solve, alternate shells were placed on the opposite side of the tank from the opening.
The hermit crabs figured out that if they switched to an alternate shell, they could get back across the tank and escape from the top.
This process only took a few minutes for some of the hermit crabs. For others, it took a few hours.
Hermit crabs can determine a way to escape if there’s an opening. Additionally, if the lid doesn’t lock on or sit tightly, hermit crabs can maneuver sufficiently to push the lid off.
If there are no gaps, and it’s impossible for a hermit crab to push the lid off, it could have escaped when you lifted an item from the tank. It likely latched onto the lid without you realizing it.
Why Is My Hermit Crab Trying to Escape?
Here are the reasons why hermit crabs may be attempting to escape:
In the above study, scientists placed each hermit crab in the tank, one at a time, to entice them to escape. Not liking being isolated from other hermit crabs, they figured out a way to get away.
This confirms that hermit crabs are social creatures that thrive among others of their kind. To keep a hermit crab happy, ensure that it has companionship.
Hermit crabs love to explore their surroundings. If their tank has nothing to climb on or hide in, they may seek to escape because there’s nothing else to do.
Decorate their tank with things like small tree limbs and branches, plants, rocks of different sizes, shallow water ponds, and something for them to climb or hide inside.
Even something as simple as taking a small plastic container, cutting a door out of it, and placing it upside down in their tank would work well.
Put some empty shells of different sizes and colors in the tank for them to try out, too.
If you have more than one hermit crab in the tank, perhaps the one trying to escape felt threatened by another. Academia stated that hermit crabs have shell fights quite often.
Conflict ensues when one hermit crab decides it wants another’s shell and usually ends with them exchanging shells. This begins with shell wrapping.
However, if one hermit crab doesn’t want to give up its shell or no longer feels safe being so close to the other, it may attempt to escape.
If you notice an issue between two or more hermit crabs, removing the bully and placing it into a different tank with another companion is recommended.
A hermit crab may try to escape if the humidity drops below 80% in the tank because it’ll make breathing difficult for hermit crabs. Using a hygrometer is the best way to monitor the humidity level.
Where Do Hermit Crabs Hide in A House?
If your hermit crab escaped its tank, panic might ensue when you realize it’s likely hiding in your house somewhere, possibly never to be found again.
Setting out to look for a tiny hermit crab lost in your house might feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Where do you start looking?
Humid And Warm Places
Hermit crabs need humidity to survive, so commence your search in areas with moisture and warmth, such as under the refrigerator, bathroom, or kitchen sink.
Check near the water heater and furnace or window air conditioner units. Look under small appliances on kitchen counters or anywhere else in the house, especially humidifiers.
If those areas don’t lead you to your hermit crab, expand the search to dark areas.
Look under beds and furniture, inside closets, and behind curtains. Check the basement and garage. Conduct a thorough search and even look inside things you wouldn’t ordinarily think to check for a hermit crab, such as bags, purses, suitcases, shoes, and boots.
Carpets and Linens
The hermit crab may get snagged on carpet fibers or tangled in linens and clothing as it travels.
Near Pet Food and Water
If you have a cat or dog and have exhausted other areas where your hermit crab might be hiding, check where other pets eat and drink. Your hermit crab may gravitate toward a water source.
Rarely Checked Areas
Hermit crabs are small creatures that can probably fit into tiny nooks and crannies around the house that you may never consider looking at.
Sit back and think of all the places a hermit crab could have squeezed into for warmth and darkness.
What To Do If Your Hermit Crab Escapes
If a hermit crab has escaped, search where it might hide in your home. If that search comes up empty, start looking in the unlikely areas of your home.
If you still haven’t found your hermit crab, there are other hiding places:
Wait Until Dark
Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures, so they’re most active at night. If you’ve been looking for your hermit crab during the day and can’t find it, wait until night falls and begin your search again.
To draw your hermit crab out of hiding, set out some food that your hermit likes but hasn’t eaten in a while in areas where you think it might be hiding.
The Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology stated that hermit crabs are more drawn to the odors of foods they haven’t had recently.
In a hermit crab tank, you should have two shallow bowls of water (fresh water and salt water).
Your hermit crab will likely seek water sources, so set out a shallow bowl of each type of water where it can access it if it emerges from its hiding place.
Don’t Give Up Hope
If you don’t find a hermit crab in the house, don’t assume it has died or will soon die. Hermit crabs are resourceful, so they might find a hiding place suitable to keep them alive.
Other owners who’ve lost a hermit crab have found their pets alive and well, wandering around the house months later. The same could happen with yours, so don’t give up hope.