Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

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lyrem591
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Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:04 pm

Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by lyrem591 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:01 am

It's a little difficult to fill out the form (below) because the crab in question is now in an ISO. Most questions reflect the ISO conditions, but I've attempted to note any deviations where I feel it's relevant to know the situation she was previously in. If anything is unclear let me know.

My hermit crab Joan Calamezzo has been a fairly lazy and floppy crab in the time that I've had her. She's bigger than the other crabs, so I think she's just been suuuuper relaxed all the time and tends to do the thing I've seen other people post about where she kind of rolls back onto her shell to chill and sleep. Or I'll find her with her legs kind of dangling out of a log. She's rather clumsy. She has a very healthy seeming appetite in general. In the last couple of days she started to become more interested in hiding (her head at least) under one of the hides. In retrospect I should have maybe recognized that as a pms and ISO'ed her, but I don't know.

Then, yesterday morning when I checked on the crabs she was unusually far out of her shell and just dangling. I could see a bit of her tail. Other than the tank being a few degrees warmer than usual, nothing else seemed amiss. She reacted to me misting the tank, but only with a slight shift and no effort to get into her shell properly (which was kind of in an odd position related to her body, not sure how to describe--opening facing kind of upward, I guess? I poked some holes in a tupperware and put it on top of her until I could get an ISO set up for her (I know there's that pop bottle trick, but my main tank has 8+" of sand and I thought ISO would be better anyway). She was in the same position later and completely not moving or reacting anymore. I carefully used a spatula to pick her/the chunk of sand she was on up and moved her into ISO, where I'd made a little hollow for her. Unfortunately, the hollow wasn't deep enough and the chunk of sand she was on maintained its shape (darn sand castle sand!) so she ended up on this weird little mound. At this point (in spite of what I've read) I'm assuming the worst because she didn't react at all to me moving her. Then I see a slight twitching movement. I was worried about her being on the mound/her safety, and also wanted her to be less close to the tank lid so that I could put a cave on top of her (I was worried it wouldn't clear her when she was on top of the mound). I tried to gently level out the sand a bit and then she did another twitch and ended up rolling off the mound and into an awkward on her side position (still not fully on the shell). I was worried I'd already done too much with her and gently put the hide over her and made sure and put up an extra layer of curtains so it's super dark in the room she's in.

I haven't seen any movement since, and she's still in the super awkward position. Obviously, I understand I should have posted this right when she toppled into that position, but I'm still worried that I should be doing something now. I'm having a hard time finding clear answers to the following questions:

**How long does the paralysis phase of molting last and at what point in the process does it happen? She hasn't shed any exo, and I thought it was part of the hardening process.

**How far does a crab have to be out of their shell to be at risk of "drying out"? In the future, do I need to gently coax a crab back into her shell when she's partially out of it (base of tail showing?)

**Is it unsafe for a hermit crab to be on their side during a molt? To what extent should I prioritize not moving her vs. having her stuck in an awkward position? I'm worried her tail got twisted in her shell or something and it killed her. I don't know.

**Is there any reason why an experienced crab would choose to molt on the surface in a tank that seems to have fine conditions? All of my other crabs have molted successfully in the four months that I've had them, except for her. She's the only one that I haven't ever seen dig.

Is there anything I should do for her now? I've seen posts about offering her honey, water, etc, but like I said she's on her side and there is not antennae movement or anything, and I'm very hesitant to disturb her because the "DO NOT DISTURB" stuff I've read reigns supreme in my mind. I imagine it would be terrifying (if she is still alive) to see my big hands coming in and out of the tank and not be able to move at all.


1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it? 7" Play sand with a little coco fiber.

2. Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read? Yes, 80 F 88% humidity.

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what? Small tank side heater and a 25w mini halogen, a safe distance from the tank.

4. What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)? Zoo Med Dechlorinator and Instant Ocean. Both water available in the main tank, only fresh in the ISO right now because I'm checking on this crab constantly and I don't have a decent fourth bowl/her molt cave is taking up a lot of space.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced? Every few days I switch dry food/supplements and mix in fresh. I use a bunch of the hermit crab patch mixes, their soil supplement. I try to give them small veggie scraps and occasionally leftover fish and egg.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known? Purple Pincher, 3 months.

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen? No.

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing? Main housing is 28 gallon I believe? mesh lid with plastic tape and held down with objects. ISO is 10 gallon.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they? 6 crabs. 3 teeny, 1 small, and 2 medium (this one may be more of a large?)

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any? 15ish. Some of the crabs are lazy about climbing to the shell shop so I rotate which ones are more easily available.

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently? No.

12. How often do you clean the tank and how? Once a week remove any gross surface stuff. pick up log hides and shake out poops, clean out water bowls with hot water.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned? No.

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently? No.

15. Is there any other information you would like to share that might be helpful (anything that is regularly part of your crab care, playtime, bathing, etc.)? No.


Topic author
lyrem591
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:04 pm

Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by lyrem591 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:12 am

UPDATE:

Per more frantic forum reading, I got worried about her butt drying out so I spooned a little bit of dechlor water on there (had to lift the hide off of her temporarily, but the light I'm using is a night (red) bulb.

I'm hoping these links work, posting this way instead of as attachments because I want people to have the option to not see sad super dead looking crab. There's no way this crab is alive right? Ack. This is not a position she has moved into since description, it's the rolled off the mound position. Her orientation is basically backwards in her shell, so I'm worried that her tail would have gotten hurt, though I don't know how much wiggle room she's got in there (it's a really big shell compared to the one she was in when I got her, so I guess her tails probably not actually all that big).

http://s16.postimg.org/hr7tz0nrp/IMG_0358.jpg

http://s16.postimg.org/g9hs9ptn9/IMG_0359.jpg

I wish I had known that part of hermit crab ownership is not knowing for sure whether they are alive. It's the most stressful thing I've experienced in pet ownership.


hermieluv1
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Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by hermieluv1 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:23 am

Yeah, she looks like she is dead. So sorry you had to go through this, but it is a common part of hermit crab ownership.

There really isn't anything you could have dinner to save her. I have tried both hands off and nursing, and neither made a difference.

One thing I do differently now is buy smaller crabs. I used to get the biggest, baddest I could find, until I learned that the big ones are likely pretty old. And they don't seem to take to captivity as easily as the little ones.

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wodesorel
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Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by wodesorel » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:04 am

I would still wait for the smell before calling it. With an abdomen that swollen, it could be a molt, or it could be bloating after death. It can be very hard to tell, and we've had people fish crabs out of the trash they thought were dead only to have them molt. I'm not saying get your hopes up, but with hermits it's important for there to be absolutely no doubt. It does look like she's passed, but that is not something that can be determined by photos.
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Topic author
lyrem591
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Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:04 pm

Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by lyrem591 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:33 am

hermieluv1 wrote:Yeah, she looks like she is dead. So sorry you had to go through this, but it is a common part of hermit crab ownership.

There really isn't anything you could have dinner to save her. I have tried both hands off and nursing, and neither made a difference.

One thing I do differently now is buy smaller crabs. I used to get the biggest, baddest I could find, until I learned that the big ones are likely pretty old. And they don't seem to take to captivity as easily as the little ones.
Thank you!
wodesorel wrote:I would still wait for the smell before calling it. With an abdomen that swollen, it could be a molt, or it could be bloating after death. It can be very hard to tell, and we've had people fish crabs out of the trash they thought were dead only to have them molt. I'm not saying get your hopes up, but with hermits it's important for there to be absolutely no doubt. It does look like she's passed, but that is not something that can be determined by photos.
I'll give her some time. Luckily, her conditions are super easy to keep stable in the smaller tank, and with the cave over her she looks pretty peaceful. Thanks wodesorel.

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Beebalm
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Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by Beebalm » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:08 pm

I dont have any better advice to offer (though I would still wait and maintain conditions) but just wanted to say that I'm sorry that you've had to go through this. :(
Mom to 19 PP in 3 tats: Crabzilla, Big Red, Moby, Red Legs, Bluey, Trooper, Scrabbles, Shelly,The Crusher, Snoofus, Finster, Sheep Guy, Cannoli and 6 more smalls...lets get rid of those painted shells and get a name, guys!

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citiliviey
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Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by citiliviey » Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:07 am

Any updates? I hope she is well.


Topic author
lyrem591
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Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:04 pm

Re: Molting Paralysis/Dead Hermit Crab

Post by lyrem591 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:44 pm

citiliviey wrote:Any updates? I hope she is well.
I'm still maintaining conditions. As far as I can tell, there has been no movement. There is a mild smell, but normal for the food I put in the tank and not anything I'd call unpleasant. So I'm still waiting, tho I feel pretty sure she has passed :(

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