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How To Find An Escaped Hermit Crab in Your House

A study by Animal Cognition showed how hermit crabs could escape from their tanks by switching to a smaller shell that 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 cage 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 out the top. For some of the hermit crabs, this process only took a few minutes; for others, it took up to a few hours.

Hermit crabs will determine a way to escape if there’s an opening in the tank. Additionally, if the lid doesn’t lock on or sit tightly, hermit crabs can maneuver sufficiently to push the lid off the cage.

If there aren’t any gaps and it’s not possible a hermit crab pushed the lid off, then it might be that they escaped when you lifted an item out of the cage that it was able to latch onto without you noticing.  

Why Is My Hermit Crab Trying to Escape?

Here are the reasons why hermit crabs may be trying to escape:

Loneliness

In the Animal Cognition study, the 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 when they live with others of their kind. To keep a hermit crab happy, ensure that it has the presence of others for companionship.

Boredom

Hermit crabs love to explore their surroundings. If their tank doesn’t have anything for them to climb on or hide in, they may seek to escape because there’s nothing else to do.

Decorate their cage 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 of.

Even something as simple as taking a small plastic container, cutting a door out of it, and placing it upside down in their cage would work well.

Put some empty shells of different sizes and colors in the cage for them to try out, too.

Feeling Threatened

If you have more than one hermit crab in the cage, it’s possible that the one trying to escape felt threatened by another. Academia stated that hermit crabs have shell fights quite often.

When one hermit crab decides it wants another hermit crab’s shell, fighting ensues and usually ends with the hermit crabs 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 hermit crab, 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 cage with another companion might be a good idea.

Low Humidity

A hermit crab may try to escape if the humidity drops below 80% in the cage because it’ll make breathing difficult for hermit crabs. Using a hygrometer is the best way to monitor the humidity level.

hermit crab got loose in house

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 where there will be moisture and warmth, such as under the refrigerator, in the bathroom, or under the 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 any humidifiers.

Dark Places

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

As the hermit crab travels, it may get snagged on carpet fibers or tangled in linens and clothing.

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 might never think to look.

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 the areas where it might be hiding 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.

Food

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.

Water

In a hermit crabs 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 in an area where the hermit crab 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 end up finding 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 their house months later. The same could happen with yours, so don’t give up hope.