How long can hermit crabs go without water

How long can hermit crabs go without water?

How long can hermit crabs go without water depends on the group of hermit crabs. If it is a land hermit crab, it can survive two weeks or even more without water. If it is an aquatic hermit crab, it can survive one or two days without water. Interestingly, hermit crabs do not require to live submerged in water, but it is necessary for their gills to be damped after a few hours.

Do you know hermit crabs start feeling suffocated when their gills are dry? They cannot entirely live without saltwater and freshwater. This shows water is an essential factor that needs to be considered while petting hermies in aquarium homes. Just follow the footprints of this article to gain insights. You’ll know more about how to take care of hermit crabs in captivity.

The Importance of Water for Hermit Crabs

Water plays a vital role in the lives of hermit crabs. It’s the key to survival. This is because hermit crabs lack lungs. They do not have lungs to breathe air. As they are crustaceans, they do not breathe through the lungs but through the gills. You know their gills are slightly modified compared to the gills of a fish.

The only common thing in the gills of a hermit crab and a fish is that both types of gills require water to get moisture to absorb oxygen. Whether it’s a land hermie or an aquatic hermie, both require oxygen from their surrounding water. So, in order to absorb oxygen, their gills must stay wet or moist.

Do you know what is inside their gills? A big network of blood vessels to absorb oxygen from the water. Here, the quantity of water is directly proportional to the quantity of oxygen absorbed by the gills. The gills will absorb more oxygen if they are surrounded by more water. Thus, it’s a simple rule of thumb that water is not just necessary for them to drink but also to breathe.

Important Note: Land hermit crabs have modified gills that are a bit different than the gills of aquatic hermit crabs. They cannot live more in water. That’s why they live on land. They store water in their shells. In this way, they hydrate their modified gills. Contrarily, aquatic hermit crabs do not have the ability to store water in their shells. That’s why they love to live more in water than on land.

Signs of Dehydration in Hermit Crabs

Dehydration is just like slow poison for hermies that can lead them to death. Although detecting dehydration in hermit crabs is a challenging task, here are a few solid signs to watch for:

1.Shell Condition:

You know a dehydrated hermit crab has a dry and dull-looking shell. A healthy hermit crab’s shell is always shiny and well-moistened. You can check their gills (located near their legs) for signs of dryness. According to the study of an educational forum, “Little Eagles“, hermies leave their shells when they are dehydrated and water is not available to them.

2.Slow & Lethargic:

Dehydrated hermit crabs become lazy, slow, and less active. They become sluggish and spend more time inside their shells. They also sleep more when they feel low.

3.Sunken Eyes:

This is another common sign of dehydration in hermit crabs. Their eyes appear sunken into their eyestalks.

4.Loss of Limbs:

Severe dehydration can lead to limb loss in hermit crabs. This is because their exoskeleton becomes brittle due to dehydration. You’ll also feel their body is wrinkled or shrunken.

5.Behavioral Changes:

Do you know dehydrated hermit crabs exhibit unusual behaviors? For example, they stay near their water source (pot or tank). Likewise, they constantly search for moisture and moist places. In the end, they also lose their appetite.

Last, but not least, you can do a simple dehydration test. Yes, you can pinch the exoskeleton of the hermit crab. If your hermit crab does not come back into its original shape very quickly, your hermie is severely dehydrated.

How long can hermit crabs go without water?

Let’s jump into the answer with two groups of hermit crabs:

  1. Land Hermit Crabs:

So, how long can land hermit crabs go without water? According to the report of Crab Street Journal, land hermit crabs can survive a maximum of two weeks without access to a single drop of water. The water inside their shells dry and their gills become dry or drained due to lack of water.

That’s why it is important to give them water even if they are land hermit crabs, especially if it is a hot summer. However, do not submerge them or block their ways of coming out of water. Land hermit crabs cannot survive underwater for more than 15 to 60 minutes. They will die.

  1. Aquatic Hermit Crabs:

Aquatic hermit crabs are a bit different from land hermit crabs. As their name implies, aquatic hermit crabs can survive only a few minutes outside of water. They hold their breaths when they come out of the water.

That’s why it is essential for them to go back in the water after a few minutes. Similarly, they cannot stay underwater without coming out of it. Thus, these crabs are always in and out! Too much or no water at all is devastating for hermies. Here is more information about how long can hermit crabs stay underwater.

What are the factors that affect water intake for hermit crabs?

Several factors affect the water intake of hermit crabs. These factors fluctuate their healthy mind and bodies even though water is available to hermit crabs. Let’s have a look at a few of these factors:

  1. Temperature and Humidity:

Hermit Crabs are sensitive creatures. They are sensitive to changed humidity levels or even changed temperatures. Variations in both of these factors can cause an imbalance in their habits of water intake. As a result, they become dehydrated.

  1. Type of Substrate:

The type of substrate is another essential factor that plays a vital role in their water intake. Your hermit crabs require a type of substrate that is moist and a bit soggy, but not too wet. A dry substrate can cause dehydration in hermit crabs. Moreover, too much web substrate can cause fungal infections and bacterial growth in hermies.

  1. Availability of Water Sources:

Let’s talk about another factor that plays a significant role in disturbing the water intake of hermit crabs. If the water hermies are taking is not fresh and clean, they’ll become sick and dehydrated. The water they intake must be free from contaminants and chemicals.

  1. Diet of Hermit Crabs:

The type of diet hermit crabs consume affects their water intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain moisture. This type of diet can help hydrate them. Furthermore, their overall health and hydration status also affect their water needs.

The Importance of Providing Water for Pet Hermit Crabs

Water is crucial for the health and well-being of pet hermit crabs. Here are a few reasons that explain why water is important for pet hermit crabs:

  1. Respiration:

As I have mentioned before, hermit crabs primarily breathe through gills, which must remain moist to function properly. As a result, adequate humidity and access to water help to ensure the well-being of their respiratory system. This is how water is very important for the respiratory system of hermit crabs.

  1. Molting:

As we know hermit crabs undergo a molting process to grow, they need more water to repair their exoskeletons. That’s why they require high humidity environment and freshwater to support the molting process successfully. Without adequate water and proper hydration, molting is risky and even fatal for hermit crabs.

  1. Preventing Dehydration:

Dehydration causes many health problems in hermit crabs like loss of limbs and organ damage. But, freshwater and humid habitats prevent dehydration.

  1. Digestion:

Hermit Crabs need moisture for digestion. Many of their foods contain some level of moisture. But, access to freshwater helps the hermit crabs in their digestion process.

  1. Shell Health:

Shells are just like homes of hermit crabs. Hence, the shell of a hermit crab must be moist and well-moistened for its overall health. Dry shells are always uncomfortable and problematic for the crab.

Lastly, water supports their immune system and overall vitality. You can follow this link to learn all about why hermit crabs burrow.


1.How long can hermit crabs go without food?

Hermit crabs can go without food for a few days to two weeks.

2.Can hermit crabs drown in water?

Yes, hermit crabs can drown in water. They often drown because they cannot survive more than a few minutes or hours in the water.

3.Can hermit crabs swim in the water?

No, hermit crabs cannot swim in the water. Although many people assume that hermit crabs can swim, it’s a false assumption.

4.Can hermit crabs survive in freshwater?

Yes, hermit crabs can survive in freshwater. They can also survive in saltwater.


So, how long can hermit crabs go without water? It depends on the group of hermit crab, age, size, food, temperature, and environment. Hermit crabs are those crustaceans that need food and water to survive. Remember, the water must be clean and fresh. 

If you can provide another pot of saltwater along with a freshwater pot/dish, it would be more beneficial for them. Responsible owners of aquatic creatures always take care of their pets. In order to retain moisture in the habitat of your hermit crab, you can add some natural materials like coconut fiber, moss, and so on.