Dead Hermit Crab – Top 5 Tips To Check Your Hermit Crab

dead hermit crab
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Dead Hermit Crab is sometimes quite a problem to deal with especially for beginners. Don’t worry, the following article will give you useful tips.

Dead Hermit Crab: Everything You Need To Know

The phenomenon of crab molting occurs frequently and is common in most crabs today as a milestone marking their maturity and renewal. Without the ability to distinguish, you will most likely assume that the crab is dead. Oh no! It’s a sad story.

To help you understand and distinguish exactly what is a molting or dead crab, we have compiled and built up some signs of a dead hermit crab. We hope that this information will bring you a lot of practical, real-life knowledge.

Is Hermit Crab Dead Or Molting?

Through experiments and surveys, we found that up to 70% of the population today cannot accurately distinguish certain statuses of a hermit crab. Specifically, is it molting or dead? They often mistakenly believe that when the crab molts, it is over. There are too many problems with this definition of them.

We will mainly distinguish the two states of crabs in this category to help you not be confused as before.


The molting process of a crab is known to be a necessary state for its growth and development. The crab molts by shedding the old shell and hardening the new skeleton. 

Crabs are often vulnerable during their molting period, so they often bury themselves deep in the soil. And of course, they are not very active during this period and mainly lead a reclusive lifestyle.

Molting is the most dangerous job for hermit crabs. This action is necessary but also dangerous for the life of the crab. According to statistics in the wild, up to 90% of animals and plants die due to unsuccessful molting. 

A sad figure reflects the profound and vital nature of molting. Therefore, it may be inevitable that you have difficulty distinguishing between mottled and dead crabs. 

In some cases, your perception and judgment may be correct for a dead molting crab. However, if that perception of yours is wrong, you sadly bring it up and bury it.

Shedding and “Death” Signs

In the early stages of molting, crabs are left paralyzed because they prepare to pull out of their old skeleton. The padding at the foot of the crab legs helps it to stand, walk and balance effectively. 

But, in the early stages of molting, crabs can lose their balance, the ability to walk, and even the ability to walk. At this time, the crab’s body is stiff and difficult to move due to the influence of the withdrawal process. These characteristics help explain why you often confuse molted and dead crabs.

Molting or dead crabs are two stages that are difficult to distinguish among some new hermit crab owners today. Therefore, they threw away their crab when they mistakenly thought it was dead. 

This act is deplorable because only our lack of awareness makes it impossible for them to exist. Therefore, below we would like to give some signs to evaluate and identify whether your crab is dead or not: Specifically:

  • The location of the makeover
  • Smell test
  • Color
  • Move
  • Lost legs

Here are 5 critical signs to help you identify your crab is dead. If you are interested and want to learn more about this topic, you can scroll down to read our next section! 

Indeed, after reading, you will understand and distinguish exactly whether the crab is molting or dead.

How To Check A Dead Crab

At the heart of this article, we want to give and analyze in detail how to recognize a dead saw-saw crab. Hopefully, you can be adequately aware of your crab’s condition so that you don’t regret making the wrong decisions.

The location of the makeover

Based on the molting position is also an impressive way to determine the life of the crab. Crabs often molt in situations such as: Lying flat on the waist or lying on their side or upright inside the shell.. 

Rarely, you will also see crabs molting in an upright sitting position in the shell, with the shell’s opening facing outwards. In contrast, the head and legs stick out from the surface.

In general, with this distinction, it does not bring much value to you. On the other hand, this way of recognition often has to be based on a certain knowledge base to make newcomers very difficult.

Smell test

The surest and safest way to tell if a crab is dead is to check its odor concentration. If your crab is finished, their body will begin to decompose and give off a foul odor, and it makes sense for you to identify through their smell.

On the other hand, if you can’t smell them when they’re in the tank, then you should take them out and take a closer look at their bodies. In this case, if you smell salty crabs with a rotten smell, your crab is most likely dead. However, along with that, you need to observe them more closely to avoid confusion or odor hallucinations. Sometimes due to the influence of certain factors, and can make your sense of smell inaccurate.

dead hermit crab


You can’t smell and are not sure about your ability to see? So you can tell the life of crabs by their color. When their bodies change a strange color different from their original color, they are likely dead. 

For example, healthy Caribbean hermit crabs are usually red, pink, or orange. If you notice, they are a different color and dark, and you can be 65% sure that this crab is dead.

Or, in a molting crab, you will notice a white skeleton. But if that skeleton in your hermit crab is black, it’s likely dead. To be more sure, you should check its action.

Moving or not

You need to conduct a test of your crab-walking function, see if they are moving or not. If they don’t move, they may be dead, which is a side effect of the molting process. There will be two specific distinctions in this case: direct observation and shaking action:

  • Observation: If you spot something like a crab shell next to it, take a closer look to see if it’s an exoskeleton. If it’s hollow and fragile, it’s precisely an old skeleton.
  • Shake method: Shake them when you can’t see a separation between the shell and something next to the crab. When you shake it, if it is live crabs, they will fall out of the surface quickly. However, we still recommend testing them through smell and color. Because that way will be much more effective than holding and shaking the crab.

In addition, you can also check if they are alive or dead by placing them at a specific location and leaving them there for a certain amount of time. 

When you come back, if they are still lying there, your hermit crab is probably dead. But you need to be careful, put them in a sheltered location because if they are still alive, it is likely that they will crawl away, and you cannot find them.

dead hermit crab

Lost legs

The sign of missing legs is also an important factor in knowing if your crab is dead or alive. With many typical crabs, they can regrow their lost limbs. 

But if it loses more than one leg in about 24 hours, chances are they’re in big trouble. Yes, with this sign, although it is not too important, it also helps us identify the crab’s survival status.

However, the evaluation result of this method is not high, only about 10% for your final judgment. And of course, above all, you should still choose to test them with the smell of hermit crabs. It is the easiest way for you to determine if your crab is alive or dead quickly.

Throw Away A Dead Crab

If your crabs are dead, proceed to dispose of them following some of the tips below. Fully following the recommendations below will help protect the environment and limit the impact of crabs killed on your life.

Dig up a buried crab and throw it away if you smell rotting fish

Burying dead crabs is a way to ensure hygiene and safety for the surrounding environment, not affected by its smell. It would help if you planted them in the sand so that the two could blend easily. Immediately after handling dead crabs, you must wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap to avoid potential hazards.

Throw your dead crab with the garbage

If you’re afraid to bury it, then throw it in the body after you’ve put it in a clean bag. Do not throw them directly into the trash because this causes offense and allows their smell to spread to ample space and cause discomfort.

Bury your dead crab

If you don’t have sand to bury dead crabs, you can plant them deep in the soil. You need to make sure that you bury the dead crabs deep enough to avoid digging from other animals, which is very unsanitary. Alternatively, you can use your crab in a small compostable pack with it. It’s like a way of thinking that has been with us all this time.

Do not flush dead crabs down the toilet

Flushing can be a quick and convenient solution, but it’s not a hygienic option. You absolutely must not throw them in the toilet and flush them. Thus, it not only affects the water source but also has many other potential problems. 

Unfortunately, when you drop it, the toilet clogs, and you have to pay a large amount of money to unclog the toilet. Oh no! That’s a stupid and terrible way to do it. Above all, they should still be thrown or buried in the ground. It will be safer and more environmentally friendly.

dead hermit crab


With the above information on how to recognize dead hermit crabs, I hope to help you understand deeply and clearly distinguish the life of crabs. In addition, make sure to perform all necessary deadly crab handling operations to ensure hygiene! Thus, it will ensure your life and those around you. Don’t forget to leave us feedback after reviewing it!

Thank you for reading!

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