FAQ Locating an Escaped Hermit Crab

Written by Marie Davis

Ebbie the compressus climbed the thermometer

FAQ Locating an escaped hermit crab – Ebbie the compressus climbed the thermometer


On occasions one may find that when they do an antenna count they seem to be missing a hermit crab? Where possibly could it be? All empty shells have been looked into, including doing the precaution of turning the shells upside down and placing water within them. There have been occasions when a hermit crab has changed shells and fits so far down within it they are impossible to see. By placing water within the shells and turning them hole side up, if the shell moves hole side down a crabber knows there is a resident within it.

Could he be hiding that well in the crabitat? If one has looked within every tank item, including the little crevices some items have, as well as completely sifted through their substrate inch by inch there maybe a chance he has escaped. (Note: if you have other crabs don’t molting do not disturb your substrate)

Trooper AKA Spiderman

Trooper AKA Spiderman

Even if one feels this is impossible for the hermit crab to do because none of their crabitat items come close to the top of the tank, unless one has a screen lid to cover the top of the tank it is possible for the hermit crab to have escaped. They are expert climbers and are even capable of climbing the silicone on the inside of the tank corners.

Now the whole inside of the tank has been checked. Each item has been looked at inside including the holes of any and all logs and huts within the tank. The substrate has been gone through as well as all empty shells have been looked into. Hermit Crab count is still missing one.

Look around the outside of the tank, including around the legs of the stand the tank is on. Make sure to check all wiring around the tank and what maybe leading down from the tank. Check under couches, chairs, tables, beds, plants, along the wall of the room and other rooms close by. Check curtains, closets, within shoes, under refrigerators, in bathrooms or where it maybe warm and a bit humid. If you have other pets, check around the water and food dishes.

When it gets to be dusk, place newspaper or aluminum foil along the edges of the wall on the floor. Place some smelly food (eg. Sardines, shrimp, krill, tuna, etc) on the paper/foil as well as a water source. Sit quietly in a very dim room, or a dark room and listen carefully. It may also help if you have a flashlight handy so if you do hear a scooting across the paper/foil you will be able to turn it on and see where the sound is coming from. This method may take a couple of nights for one to find their hermit crab, so one does need to be patient.

A very determined perlatus climbed the silicon and began tearing open the screen lid

A very determined perlatus climbed the silicon and began tearing open the screen lid

A very determined perlatus climbed the silicon and began tearing open the screen lid

A very determined perlatus climbed the silicon and began tearing open the screen lid


Here are a few ideas/tips from other Crab Street Journal members:

Grant wrote:
I imagine you would want to consider their needs and plan from there:
Mine always head for dark areas

Remove all electrical wires from the floor and other things that can be used for climbing to make sure that they stay safely on the ground.

In the dark area(s) set up for them maybe place some food, maybe even a fan to provide a breeze to draw their attention to the area.

If you plan on hanging out and wait: set up some glasses or things that their shell will clank against.

Daethian wrote:
Grant in a research article I was reading last week or so about the amazing sense of smell of hermit crabs, the researchers actually set up large fans at night and the crabs consistently traveled away from the fans. Even when it meant they were travelling away from their home sea. Where without the fan blowing they tended to almost always naturally orient toward their home sea. They can definitely smell ocean water.

CtryLuv wrote:
here are the things I have listed on my site.

* Check dark, damp places, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets. They will try to find a place where they feel safe and where there is more warmth and humidity than anywhere else in the house.

* Place a nice smelly food that your crabby enjoys out in the open. Place it on something such as wax paper, tin foil or paper so that when he crawls on it, you can hear him.

* If you have other animals watch them. Cats and dogs are very good at knowing when there is something around that isn’t there usually. If they seem to be sniffing around somewhere, or trying to get to an area they don’t normally go to, check it out.

* Also check under certain appliances such as refrigerator and washers. These are dark warm places hermies might like.

* Look up high. A lot of people have found their crabbies scaling curtains and drapes. Anything you have that they can climb, check it out.

Not sure if those are just repeats of others listed above, but these are things Ive picked up over the years. I’ve only had one escaped crabbie “Bob” and of course he was just strolling across house like he owned it, so he didn’t apply to any of the above, but Bob was a macho hermie, hehehehe.