Can Hermit Crabs Live Out Of Water? (impressive Answers)

Can hermit crabs live out of water? If you are asking this because you want to know if they can survive without water, the answer is yes and no. Hermit crabs can actually breathe underwater using bubbles that are trapped in their shell. This allows them to stay submerged.

A simple question that can have a complicated answer. Therefore, in this blog post, we’ll do our best to help you figure it out. We’ll compare the can hermit crabs can survive outside of water with those that can’t and provide some useful tips for caring for your hermit crab if they need to live without their natural habitat.

See also:

  1. Acclimating Hermit Crabs Safely (Easy Steps To House Them)
  2. Do Saltwater Hermit Crabs Need Bigger Shells?
  3. Why Gorilla Crabs Are Bad Hitchhiker And How To Remove?

Two Types Of Hermit Crabs

There are two types of hermit crabs: marine crabs and land hermit crabs. They can be distinguished by their habitats. Marine hermit crabs spend most of their lives underwater but are capable of living on the land temporarily while they await a mate or search for food. Land hermit crabs are able to live on both water and land but must have access to fresh water and saltwater in order to survive and breed.


In fact, land hermit crabs have gills that they use to breathe. In the wild, they need high humidity to keep their breathable organs damp. They are most likely going to keep some water in their shell so that their organ is wet enough. However, land hermit crabs require access to fresh and saltwater so as not to be dry out and suffocate.

Land hermit crabs
Land hermit crabs


Most hermit crabs are marine dwellers (i.e. they spend their entire life in the ocean and never leave). However, many species of them can survive outside the water as long as their gills remain moist; this ability varies from different species.

Marine hermit crabs
Marine hermit crabs

How Do Hermit Crabs Breathe?

Your pet hermit crabs are lethargic and dying almost immediately. This is not because your lovable little pets have short life spans or are innately weak – in the wild, they can live for up to 40 years! No, the reason hermit crabs become inactive when people bring them home is that these amphibious animals need the right environment to breathe.

All hermit crabs are able to breathe through their gills, which they need to keep wet. Marine hermit crabs have large gills that allow them to extract oxygen in the water and expel carbon dioxide through their mouth. Land hermit crabs take oxygen into their bodies via moist air and cannot survive underwater.

Without water or suitable humidity, your hermit will suffocate. Before placing it in a tank, you need to ensure that the air is breathable.

Can Hermit Crabs Live Out Of Water?

As you’ll be aware, the chemical formula for water is H2O. This means that one water molecule contains two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen. As a result, oxygen is less concentrated in water. The air is around 21% oxygen; water is just 1%.

Happily, aquatic hermit crabs are more than equipped to be out of water – their large gills help them breathe.

Oxygen reacts with the blood of hermit crabs. Then hermit, through their mouth, releases carbon dioxide. Marine-type hermits need water in order to breathe. However, they can still “breathe” out of the water as long as their gills are moist.

Comparing to marine hermit crabs, terrestrial hermit crabs’ gills are more disadvantaged, which means they can not survive outside of water for long. The reason is that their gills are smaller and stiffer than marine crabs. This makes it easy for the oxygen in the crab’s lungs to get mixed with too much water. As a result, their lungs will fill up with water and they will be drowning.

Land hermit crabs cannot breathe underwater. Instead, they can hold their breath while submerged in water. They are believed to be able to hold their breath for about 15-60 minutes.

Can Hermit Crabs Live Out of Water?
Can Hermit Crabs Live Out of Water?

How Long Can Hermit Crabs Stay Underwater?

As per Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, hermit crabs have trouble breathing in any prolonged environment. Marine crabs need constant access to the ocean, while land-dwelling crabs should remain dry unless they’re soaking wet.

We know very little about how long land hermit crabs can stay underwater. This varies between different species of hermit crab, and each has its own unique traits when they enter the water.

Hermit crabs can survive underwater for an average of 20-30 minutes. Younger hermit crabs may struggle after around 10 minutes, but others have been known to last as long as 60 minutes under the surface.

Most hermit crabs have the ability to know when they need to come out of the water. It is necessary never to keep a terrestrial hermit crab in water, as this will lead to drowning.

How To Keep Hermit Crabs Alive That Are From The Beach

Things you need

  • An aquarium
  • Coconut fiber or sterilized sand
  • A low wattage light bulb or heat mat
  • Non-chlorinated water
  • Shallow bowls (or other containers with a smaller area that restricts the amount of water they can use)
  • Saltwater
  • Shells
  • Driftwood
  • Places to hide


Hermit crabs can be found on rocky beaches or near tide pools. These animals require intelligence to adapt to a variety of environments and can live up to 50 years old, if not more. When the name “hermit” crab is misleading because these creatures always enjoy the companionship of other tiny arthropods.

Place your hermit crab in a 10-gallon tank. You will need a larger tank as the crab grows. Fill the bottom of the container with 2-3″ coconut fibers or sterilized sand, both of which can be bought at a pet store.

Keep the hermit crab tank at a constant temperature by providing it with sources of light and heat. Constant temperatures should be maintained between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most hermit crabs require a shallow bowl of clean, unchlorinated water and food daily in order to thrive. Hermit crab pellets are the perfect choice for providing all of the minerals and vitamins their growing bodies need.

Place an inch-deep, sturdy container filled with saltwater in the tank. This will be used for bathing by the hermit crab and should be changed daily.

When a hermit crab outgrows its current shell it will require a bigger living space. Offering the hermit crab several options of varying sizes will allow it to choose the best-fitting home, as seen in nature.

In order to provide play and hiding spots for the crab, it is suggested that you put a piece of driftwood, a store-bought hermit hut, or a branch into the aquarium.

How to keep hermit crabs ALIVE!!!


Can hermit crabs drown?

Marine hermit crabs will never drown, as long as the temperature and salinity are appropriate. Captive marine hermit crabs do not need to be removed from their tank.
Unlike marine hermit crabs, the land ones are unable to breathe underwater, so they must keep their gills moist and secure any food sources as soon as possible.
It is necessary for hermit crabs to be able to get out of the water at this stage. If their habitat does not provide them with a way out, drowning becomes a possibility. For drinking and bathing purposes, they need pools in the habitat as well.

How do hermit crabs breathe under the sand?

The habitat of a hermit crab varies in the wild environment. they usually make their homes in tidal environments. This means that when it is high tide, the crabs are submerged and at low tide, they will be exposed to air.
Hermit crabs will stay in cool, dark locations to prevent the drying of their gills. For example, they may bury themselves under the sand during the day.
Hermit crabs spent much of their time underground. While molting, they remain submerged under substrate for weeks or even months until they create a hole to reach the surface for air.
Hermit crabs explore several sites before choosing to dig. This is testing the pliability of their sand. They will eventually dig a tunnel providing darkness and privacy while retaining an air source
Choosing the right sand for hermit crabs is a crucial part of maintaining their habitat. Playground sand from a hardware shop is fine, but if you want to make sure your pet shrimp are living in optimal conditions, it may be worth investing in a specialist aquarium sand from an exotic pet shop.
These sands are not prone to collapse and will not suffocate your hermit crabs. Your hermit crabs can also be confident that this sand is able to absorb water, so it’s important that they spill their water before digging in it.
If you’re raising a hermit crab pet, it’s important to understand what they need as far as water and oxygen. Many captive hermit crabs suffer bad lives due to the death caused by suffocation. As long as your hermit crab has enough access to either one of these things, it should be safe.

Do hermit crabs breathe air or water?

Hermit crabs breathe through their gills, but they need water to sustain life. The length of time the hermit crab can spend without air varies based on the size of its gills.
Hermit crabs must spend time in saltwater, but they each have different living conditions: marine hermit crabs live underwater, and terrestrial hermit crabs are more commonly found on dry land, but both need to go into water every once in a while.
Exposure to saltwater leads to an adjustment of the hermit crab’s respiratory rate. This is because oxygen reacts to water in the gills. The wetter the gills, the more oxygen reaches blood vessels and this means these crabs can breathe even better if they are exposed to fresh water and air.
Those that live underwater have different behaviors than those that mostly stay on dry land. Underwater hermit crabs spend little time in the ocean unless they’re hunting for food or escaping predators.
Terrestrial hermit crabs can go without water for long periods of time, although they submerge periodically. They usually spend 20 minutes underwater, which is partly a bathing session and also helps dampen the gills or store water in their shells.
Hermit crabs have the unique mechanism of retaining water. They get moisture from the ground and need constant access to water to live successfully.


To conclude, there are two basic kinds of hermit crabs: marine crabs and land crabs. Ones live underwater, and the others spend much of their time on land. As the result, this creature has two different but correlative methods of getting oxygen.

If you wonder how hermit crabs breathe and can hermit crabs live out of water or not, please read my article. Hope it brings helpful information to you and many thanks for reading!

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