When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

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When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Motörcrab » Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:30 pm

The other week we did our Crazy Crabby Caravan Caper where we made 3 stops and rescued 11 crabs. Our last stop had 5 crabs but we only picked up 4. The one crab was down so I told her not to disturb him until he comes back up because he was probably molting and did not want to hurt him. When we picked up the crabs she said that last guy was much bigger than the others. Tennis ball size by her description. To me that means XL possibly Jumbo. She also said she didn't see the big one since summer.

Depending on where you are estimating summer from it could be between 5-8 months. Mid August you are at around 5 months, mid June you are at 8 months. I'm sure the 8 months is also an estimate as well for molting time. My thoughts are to give him another 2-3 months minimum.

The main reason I am questioning this is since this guy will eventually be another rescue crab I am unsure how long his current owner will want to keep an "empty" 40 gallon running. I just sent a follow up email to them to see if there was any status change. I also explained if he is that size it can take 8 + months to molt. I also mentioned being that large he is probably 20 + years old and elders usually need to take their time! I asked if they can give him at least another 2-3 moths down since that is still within the 8 months. His care is out of my hands at the moment but wanted to get some insight on the situation. When we last spoke a few weeks ago she did say that she will keep the tank going for him but I know most people will eventually become impatience especially wanting to get rid of them.
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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by aussieJJDude » Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:37 pm

After the initial moult, hermie are pretty resilient and can handle being dug up as long as its not happening frequently. If the current owner is getting impatient, or you think they are, mention that if it's ever getting too cumbersome that you'll happily see how he is doing and dig.

But that my opinion, most of the time they spend underground is just chilling rather than the actual moult IMO.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by crabby33 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:14 pm

I have a crab that molted last week. He’s hardened up now and chilling underground. Next week will be week 8. I’m not digging him out of his cave. I’m going to let him decide when he wants to resurface.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by wodesorel » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:17 pm

When they get to true jumbo they do not do well with disturbed molts. Crabs die natural deaths when the act of molting takes more energy than what they have managed to save up. A disturbed molt takes more energy out of them leaving them at a deficit. The little guys can easily bounce back, but if the crab is as large as they say, it won't be able to.

That said, most owners vastly overexaggerate the size of their crab.

I'd do four to six months and then go digging, if it were me. Have a dark container of moist moss waiting and just let them finish up in there if it is still alive.


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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by teachincrabbie » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:32 pm

Is it possible to fit the whole tank in your car?? Could you just transport him in the tank? That way you wouldn’t dig him up. You may disturb his tunnels.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Motörcrab » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:07 pm

I was thinking that they may be exaggerating size a bit. I know when you get a normal store bought crab small/medium size and put them near a larger one it is easy to misjudge size.

On that trip all but three I consider small to medium. One of the others are comparable to my Three biggest PP's and Straws. With 1-1/8- 1-1/4 shell openings I consider the large. The other two have approximately 1-1/2 openings. I consider them XL on the verge of Jumbo. The lady does live a few minutes from That Pet Place and the first time we were there they were selling ginormos hermits there, easily baseball size shells. I guess time will tell.

It's a 40 gallon tank and they wanted to keep the tank.
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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Zappa5 » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:00 am

I am the current owner of this crab and I am more than willing to leave the tank alone until he surfaces if that is the best course of action. I do wonder if he is alive though. I've had him for three years, and he spends most of his time underground. As for his size, because I don't see him often I can't say for sure how big he is, but I'd guess that his shell is around a tennis ball size. I had to buy some pretty large shells to give him options after I got him.

Thanks Motorcrab for working with me to re-home these guys!

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by wodesorel » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:20 am

Zappa5, thank you for being awesomely understanding while we're over here running theoretical outcomes! No one wants to wait forever for a hermit in an empty tank, even the most die-hard hard keeper. If he'd had any kind of normal digging schedule over the last three years, I'd go with that as a guideline. Give him maybe an extra month as a cushion since he keeps getting larger to be on the safe side.


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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Zappa5 » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:43 am

So should I have food available at all times now that the other 4 crabs are in their new home and the tank is empty except for this last one? Or should I just add food when I see him surface? The tank is in my kitchen, so I'm looking at it every day.

His digging schedule has basically been, under for long long periods of time, up for a week or so where he would eat like a crazy crab, then back down for another long stretch.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by wodesorel » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:46 am

I'd leave something small and dry in the tank that you won't have to change out often. If they come up in the middle of the night to a completely empty bowl, they sometimes rebury before morning.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Motörcrab » Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:34 pm

Zappa5 wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:00 am
I am the current owner of this crab and I am more than willing to leave the tank alone until he surfaces if that is the best course of action. I do wonder if he is alive though. I've had him for three years, and he spends most of his time underground. As for his size, because I don't see him often I can't say for sure how big he is, but I'd guess that his shell is around a tennis ball size. I had to buy some pretty large shells to give him options after I got him.

Thanks Motorcrab for working with me to re-home these guys!
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to adopt these guys. I'm just try to figure out a basic guide to predicting a molt schedule and when it can be safe to get him. As you can see there's a lot of speculation with the process.

As Wodesorel said keep offering dry foods insead of fresh fruits. When we rescued 3 purples last year their behavior is very similar to your last guy. With them I found dried crickets, meal worms, eggs shells and crushed Cuttlebone was enough for them to pick at. I would change that mix out when it would get funky, usually every 3-5 days. They would only come up at night then be down by morning. The only way you could tell they were coming up was by seeing the food being scattered. Once I saw activity in their dish I knew to go back to their standard diet and at least one was no longer molting but being shy. They are still act pretty much the same way almost a year later.

I'm happy to know you are understanding with their delicate molt/hiding cycle and working with us with this process. Not many people are as understanding. Thank you again!
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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Motörcrab » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:49 am

I just contacted the owner again this weekend. She said their is still no sign of activity. With the long time frame of being down (since summer) I'm assuming this guy probably didn't make make it.

Do you think it is safe to begin the digging process now to see if he is still alive? If he is alive and well we can possibly pick him up this weekend.
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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by wodesorel » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:20 pm

If it were me, I'd go looking. I do think the possibility is slim though.

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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by curlysister » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:59 pm

Yes, I agree with Wode. I would dig now too.
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Re: When is digging "technically" safe? (For Rescue Crab)

Post by Motörcrab » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:11 pm

I sent her a message to give the go ahead to start the exhuming process. Fingers crossed he is still ok. Hopefully I will hear some good news tonight about him.
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