HELP! My Crab is NAKED!!
Though it's your first instinct, don't panic. Run your hands under water to remove any perfume and/or hand lotion. Try the GLASS CUP METHOD. This is something that I made up that works wonderfully.
Take the nudie crab and dip him in water to wash the substrate off him. Then rinse out his old shell. Put him and his shell into a glass cup together, and put into the isolation tank and leave him alone. It keeps him from running around frantically (as naked crabbies do) and conserves his energy. Besides he is in close quarters with his shell and can't walk away from it. I've been using this method for two years now, successfully. A second method is to calmly pick up the naked crab and dip him (and his shell of choice) into dechlorinated, Stress Coat treated water and, using your finger, try to gently curl his abdomen into the shell. If he doesn't like the idea, use your fingertip to rap him a little on the head and 'scare' him into withdrawing. If he pops out of the shell, set him into the bath water and take a good look at the shell. Put your fingertip down inside it to make sure there are no protrusions or anything which would irritate or poke his abdomen. Then, try again to get him into the shell. If you still don't have success, try a new shell the same size as his previous shell. If that doesn't work, get him into a shell that is larger. Do not under any circumstances force him into a shell that it too small or uncomfortable for him. He is already under tremendous stress, and forcing him into an unsuitable shell may put him into shock and eventually death.
It is my experience that crabs streak (go naked) because of the following things:
"Shell fights occasionally occur among wild and pet hermit crabs and can often be detected because of chirping sounds. From a position slightly above the defending crab's shell, an attacking crab seizes the defending crab with its walking legs and rapidly rotates it back and forth. While doing this, the attacker's claws are usually inside the opening of the defending crab's shell. This shaking often drives the defending crab from the shell that the attacker wants. Practically leaping out of its shell, the loser waits and enters the victor's shell. Typically, neither crab is harmed and both might get a better-fitting shell."
Taken from Hermit Crabs: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual, by Sue Fox
Environment Too Hot
I've seen crabs have sequential shell fights down the 'intra-tank-pecking-order' until the weakest crab was left naked. This was because the air in the tank got so hot that the crabs required a thinner shell to aide in cooling their abdomens. Keep a close watch on the temperature -- 78 degrees is warm enough to overheat a hermit crab.
Sometimes a crab will go naked for no immediately obvious reason. In that case, you must examine your entire method of crab-keeping. The crab would not be naked if something weren't amiss. Go back and look for any possible stressors, in particular the temperature and humidity. Also be sure you are bathing the crabs no more than once a week (twice a week in desert climes).
:::© Christa Wilken :::
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