What Animals Molt? 7 Animals That Can Molt!

When I took my students on a field trip, we came across the skin of a snake. It took us quite by surprise, and when we looked closely, we found that the skin was precisely like the scales found on a snake.

Initially, I felt concerned that the snake would be close by, but it was not so. After that, we looked closely at the snake’s skin, and it looked exactly like the original snake.

This gave me an idea to discuss the animals that molt or shed their skins with my students.

My students seemed fascinated because the only animal that they thought shed their skin were snakes, but there are quite a few others, and some of these are as follows:

Animals that molt:

  • Crabs
  • Spiders
  • Bees
  • Shrimps
  • Lobsters
  • Caterpillars
  • Praying Mantis

Table of Contents

List of animals that molt:

1. Crabs

crab on the beach 16042022

Crabs are known to shed their skins like snakes.

If you have crabs in your terrarium, you will find that these creatures shed their skin four to five times a month.

Moreover, crabs shed their entire skin during their molting period. In other words, they will shed the skin on their backs, claws, legs, gills, and even their eyes.

You will find that the skin they shed is exactly as per the shape and dimensions of the original crab.

One of the reasons why crabs molt is to get rid of parasites and barnacles that often latch onto their exoskeleton.

By getting rid of the skin, the crab can get rid of these creatures.

2. Spiders

hairy spider 13032022

Molting is one of the processes that help spiders grow.

When we think of an animal growing, we think that the creature will grow in size.

But in the case of spiders, the creature’s exoskeleton does not grow in proportion to the rest of the body.

Hence, the spider needs to shed its outer skin or molt to help its body grow. When a spider is young, it will frequently molt to make it easier to grow.

As the spider matures, its molting rate will reduce, but it does not stop completely.

Therefore, you will find that it will continue to molt as long as a spider lives.

In the case of the more giant and venomous spiders like the tarantulas, you will find that it can take nearly a day for the arachnid to complete the process of molting.

3. Bees

honey bee 07052022

Bees are another creature that molts quite frequently. You will find carpenter bees and even honey bees molt.

For example, as carpenter bees grow, they need to make space within the exoskeleton like spiders.

This is because carpenter bees have to molt to grow. 

But the exoskeleton does not grow as the bee grows, so the bee has to shed it and grow a new exoskeleton.

In the case of a honeybee, the molting period can be considered the time between the larval stage and the bee’s emergence as a fully grown adult bee.

This period is called ‘instar,’ and the bee will undergo six molting stages.

In other words, a honeybee undergoes six molts to emerge as a fully grown adult bee in a lifetime. 

4. Shrimps

shrimp 09042022

Shrimps are invertebrate crustaceans, and like other members of this family, they molt as well. But when compared to adult shrimps, younger shrimps molt more often.

You will find that younger shrimps molt once every one to two weeks, while adult shrimps will molt once every three to four weeks.

If you have shrimps in your aquarium, it is essential to ensure that the temperature of the water is maintained at a perfect level to make it easier for the crustacean to molt.

Once the molting process is completed, it takes time for the exoskeleton of the shrimp to harden.

Molting is also a part of the breeding process of shrimps.

Female shrimps often molt and release pheromones to attract males during breeding seasons.

5. Lobsters

lobster underwater 29012022

Lobsters need to molt as they grow.

You will find that lobsters can molt twenty times every seven years.

Lobsters usually absorb water to expand their size because this helps them break open their shells, which is their molting process.

But before they start the molting process, they grow a softshell layer beneath their exoskeleton which then slowly hardens over time.

Lobsters eat voraciously when the soft shell is formed, and the molting is completed. They will eat everything they can, including the shell they have just shed.

The actual molting process for lobsters takes about fifteen minutes, but it takes longer for the skin to harden.

For the shell of a lobster to become rigid, it takes about six to eight weeks.

6. Caterpillars

black and yellow caterpillar on a green leaf

Caterpillars are known to molt nearly five times during their lifetime.

You will find that they follow a pattern of consuming a large amount of food and breaking out of their old skin.

Each caterpillar molt is an ‘instar,’ and caterpillars will continue to molt until they reach the pupae stage.

The molting process of caterpillars is necessary for the creature to progress to the pupa stage.

You can quickly identify that a caterpillar is preparing to molt when it withdraws its head from the head capsule.

The capsule stays on much like a doctor’s mask, and as the molting process is completed, the entire skin is shed, and you will find the entire skin, including the head capsule, is left behind.

7. Praying mantis

praying mantis 07052022

If you have seen a praying mantis molt, you will know that it will shed its entire skin hanging upside down.

If you have a praying mantis in a terrarium, you must observe that the insect molts every nine to fifteen days.

The molting time of praying mantises depends on the humidity and the place’s temperature.

If you have the mantises in a terrarium, keep them optimum to help the mantis molt.

In the case of the mantises living in the wild, they will molt depending on the natural conditions.

Mantises also stop eating for two to three days before molting. Once it has finished molting, it will resume eating.

Sources:
https://www.chesapeakebay.net/news/blog/clues_of_a_growing_blue_crab
https://a-z-animals.com/blog/10-animals-that-shed-their-skin/
https://www.shrimpscience.com/articles/molting-and-common-problems/
https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/caterpillars-eating-molting/

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