Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures for multiple reasons, one of which is how they defecate. Given that hermit crabs have what can be described as being a nearly all-encompassing shell is, it can be difficult to discern how exactly they manage to go to the bathroom!
Hermit crabs do indeed poop, and it is your duty if you happen to have them in your tank to clean up after them when need be. While you may not always see it, their food has to go somewhere – in which case, it pays to be vigilant. First-time hermit crab owners may not notice their pets pooping at all. This can be concerning, but it’s simply a case of being watchful for certain behavior!
In this article, we will discuss further how hermit crabs defecate, where they do it, and other essential things that you need to know if you have them in your tank!
How do hermit crabs poop?
Given the position and shape of a hermit crab’s shell, it can be difficult to understand how they defecate. Do they have to take their shells off every time they need to poop, like humans with trousers? No. Hermit crabs have their own particular way of dealing with their own poop. Just like us, hermit crabs have an anus at the base of their bodies, from which their poop comes out.
Their anus is called the telson. Hermit crabs usually poop inside their shells. Once they have finished, they use their back legs to remove the poop from their shell. On the other hand, their pee comes from behind their antenna, so no clean up is needed there!
Since their poop is long and thin, it can be difficult to detect with the naked eye, however hermit crabs do poop – and they need to! If they become constipated, then there is a serious issue. They usually remove poop from their shells every two days or so. Once the poop has been removed, the hermit crab then bathes itself in the saltwater, thus cleaning the shell and itself.
Where do hermit crabs poop?
They tend to poop inside their shells. Hermit crabs do not remove their shells for one important reason. In fact, all crabs generally prefer to have their shells on for the exact same reason – predators. A crab’s shell is their most important defense mechanism, and without it, they are vulnerable. So, as odd as it may seem, hermit crabs do not remove their shells to defecate.
Therefore, they do not need to go anywhere in particular to defecate! It’s almost as though they are carrying around their own personal bathroom with them. They will poop when and where they need to, without needing to hide necessarily. In fact, they defecate so efficiently that the chances are that you may not even notice them doing it, even in a tank. In fact, you are far more likely to notice them ridding their shells of the poop, as they will need to move around within their shells to move the poop out of the shell.
However, you may notice certain behaviors that could be linked to an animal defecating, such as the hermit crab burying itself. However, hermit crabs do not need to bury themselves in order to poop.
Why hermit crabs bury themselves?
Hermit crabs will bury themselves when hunting, or when they are about to molt. If you do notice that your hermit crab is burying itself, then do not worry. It is perfectly natural for hermit crabs to bury themselves, and they do it for multiple reasons!
First, hermit crabs often bury themselves when it is time to molt. The molting process leaves them very vulnerable as they have to be without their shells. Therefore, they bury themselves and remain as still as possible until their new exoskeleton grows. Once it has finished, it will come out from the sand and return to its normal daily routines.
Another reason for them to bury themselves is that they are looking for food. Instead of actually burying themselves, they are, in fact, digging. If you notice that they are doing this frequently, even after having been fed, then you may need to look at the environment within the tank to ensure that it is perfect for the crab. They also bury themselves when they are stressed, which can be a direct result of their environment.
However, if you are concerned because they only remain buried during the day, then do not worry. Hermit crabs are nocturnal animals, meaning that they usually come out at night. They will bury themselves during the day to hide from the light and have some rest!
Should hermit crabs be alone?
As independent as hermit crabs may seem, they do need company. They usually live in large groups and do not do well alone. Being alone in a tank can cause them a lot of stress, which could lead to illnesses or worse.
However, it would be normal for you to be concerned about bringing in other creatures, as hermit crabs can also be pretty territorial. One way of avoiding too many issues is by housing multiple hermit crabs. However, as with other creatures in your tank, you’ll need to be vigilant for any violent behavior.
If the crabs begin to fight, then you will need to ensure that their environment is adapted to a group of them. That means that you will need to provide enough food, water, and plenty of space for them. Some hermit crabs also try to steal shells from one another, so try to have a few extra shells in the tank to prevent any fighting from occurring because of this.
However, as long as they have the right amount of food, water, space, and some extra shells to be sure, having a few hermit crabs is a great way of ensuring that these friendly creatures have everything that they need, including company!