Hermit crabs use their claws to protect themselves. For these creatures, it’s important to have claws.
Sometimes things might go wrong in a hermit crab’s habitat. Some owners have noted that their hermit crabs have lost claws.
What causes hermit crabs to lose claws? Is this something that occurs due to a physical injury or is there another reason?
Will the claw grow back over time or is it never coming back? Read on to learn the answer to these questions and more so that you can understand what to do for your pet hermit crab.
Do Hermit Crabs Claws Grow Back?
Yes, hermit crab claws do grow back over time. Thankfully, hermit crabs are capable of regrowing appendages.
When a hermit crab gets injured and loses a claw, it’ll grow back. You just need to look out for the crab and care for it as normal.
Ideally, you’ll want to be very watchful and ensure that the crab gets everything that it needs. There isn’t a specific treatment for hermit crabs when they lose claws or legs.
Just make sure that the hermit crab is in a habitat with the right environmental settings. Keep the humidity levels where they need to be.
Humidity should stay somewhere around 80% in the habitat. The temperature should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Eventually, the hermit crab will start to regrow its claw. After some time has passed, you should see a blob start to form at the end of the leg where the claw once was.
It’ll likely look sort of gooey and it’ll be either gray or white in color. This is the new claw that is just beginning to form.
This typically shows up when the crab is getting ready to molt. It’s likely that your crab will molt very soon.
When it molts, it’ll start regrowing the claw. When it’s done molting, much of the claw should be formed and functional.
However, sometimes it takes more than one molting period for the claw to be back to normal. It could take two to three molts before the hermit crab has a claw that was just like it was before it fell off.
What Causes Hermit Crabs to Lose Claws?
Now that you know the claw can grow back, you’re likely relieved. You might still be wondering why hermit crabs would lose claws in the first place, though.
What causes a hermit crab to lose its claw? Is it something serious that you need to take note of?
Below, you’ll see some of the ways that hermit crabs might lose a claw. This should help you to figure out what happened.
It’s wise to take steps to try to keep your hermit crab from losing a claw again. Even if it isn’t deadly, it does stress your hermit crab and put it at a disadvantage.
1 – Dry Environment
One of the most common reasons why hermit crabs lose claws involves dryness. Hermit crabs will suffer greatly if you force them to live in an environment that’s too dry.
Hermit crabs need to have the humidity level remain around 80%. If the humidity level is too low, it’ll make it very difficult for the crab to breathe.
You’re supposed to monitor the humidity in the tank so you can keep the crab safe. Using a hygrometer is highly recommended so you can be sure that the humidity levels are in the right range.
Also, you must keep the temperature of the tank in the right range. If the temperature is too hot, it’ll cause the crab to dry out.
A hermit crab can easily die if it dries out. It won’t be able to breathe well and it can just die due to not being able to keep its gills moist.
Sometimes the stress that’s associated with dryness will cause hermit crabs to lose legs or even claws. If your hermit crab has lost a claw recently, you should check both the humidity and the temperature in the habitat.
Make any changes that you need to so you can save the crab. Failure to act quickly could cause your crab to die.
2 – Exposure to Chemicals
Exposure to chemicals could be to blame for causing your hermit crab to lose its leg. Sometimes hermit crabs will be exposed to chemicals for one reason or another.
One common way that hermit crabs get exposed to chemicals involves tap water. Sadly, tap water contains many chemicals that can harm and even kill hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs are very sensitive to chemical exposure. This is why you have to be very careful even when you’re just cleaning the habitat.
You might have accidentally given the hermit crab some tap water. This could very well kill the crab, but even if it doesn’t, it might cause severe issues.
The chemical exposure could cause the hermit crab to lose a leg or a claw. It might even lose multiple legs and a claw.
There are other ways that hermit crabs can be exposed to chemicals, too. For example, you could expose your hermit crab to paint fumes.
Painting a wall that’s too close to the hermit crab’s habitat can be dangerous. You should be careful and avoid putting your hermit crab in harm’s way.
You want to avoid exposing the hermit crab to any chemicals. Not only can it cause the crab to lose a claw, but it might kill the crab outright.
3 – Physical Injuries
Have you considered whether your hermit crab suffered a physical injury? This could have happened in a few different ways.
Sometimes you might accidentally harm a hermit crab when handling it. Hermit crabs have soft bodies and they can get hurt if you drop them.
This is why you’re only supposed to hold them a few inches off of the ground. It’s best to hold the grab just a few inches above the floor or a table of some sort.
If you dropped the crab, perhaps you caused its claw to become damaged. This could have led to the crab eventually losing the claw.
Aside from a scenario like this, a hermit crab can also get injured in a fight with another hermit crab. Hermit crabs will sometimes fight each other for one reason or another.
Most often, hermit crabs will fight each other over shells. One hermit crab might covet the shell of another, and this will lead the two crabs to fight over it.
During the fight, one hermit crab may have pulled the other hermit crab’s claw off. This sounds gruesome, and it sort of is.
Luckily, the hermit crab’s claw can grow back. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the fighting, though.
Issues with fighting can be avoided in captivity. You’re supposed to keep multiple shells in the tank that the crabs can choose from.
If there are many shells of each size, the crabs shouldn’t have a reason to fight. Remember this and do your best to keep hermit crabs from hurting each other.
4 – Light Poisoning
Many don’t realize that hermit crabs can be harmed by too much light exposure. Hermit crabs are nocturnal and this means that they’re more active during the night.
You might want to be able to see your hermit crabs better during the evening and night. It’s normal to install lights in the tank so you can see your pet hermit crabs.
However, installing lights that are too powerful can be bad. Light poisoning might occur when you use certain types of lighting.
It’s best to stick to a lower level UVB light source such as a 2.0 UVB light. Don’t use anything too strong and it’ll be easier to keep your hermit crabs from experiencing problems.
When hermit crabs get light poisoning they become stressed. Occasionally, issues such as this can lead to them losing legs or even claws.
Now that you know this, you should be able to keep it from happening. Simply be mindful of the types of lights that you use in the tank.
5 – Pest Infestation
You should also consider whether pests could be to blame. Sometimes hermit crabs might have to deal with pests.
Pests can be very troublesome and might even cause your poor hermit crab to die. This is why you need to pay attention to your pet hermit crab to keep it safe.
The most bothersome pests that hermit crabs sometimes have to deal with are mites. Mites are small and they can be tough to see with the naked eye.
You might need to use a magnifying glass to spot them in some situations. The presence of the mites will make your hermit crabs sick and it might even cause them to lose legs or claws.
Thankfully, you can get rid of mites as well as any other pests you might find. The best method for doing this is to submerge the crab in water and then clean the tank thoroughly.
The crabs can be submerged in water to kill off the mites. You might need to do this twice to fully get rid of the mites.
Cleaning the tank won’t be too difficult. You want to remove the substrate material entirely and throw it away.
Put the sand in a plastic bag and tie it. Take it outside immediately.
You’ll want to scrub the tank and rinse it thoroughly. The rocks in the tank should be boiled and you might need to do this to certain decorations as well.
Once you’ve cleaned the habitat very well, you should be able to put new sand in there for the crabs. Put the crabs back in the tank and this should solve your pest issues.
6 – Significant Stress
There are other things that can cause hermit crabs to experience stress. It might surprise you to hear that significant stress has the potential to cause hermit crabs to lose either legs or claws.
When hermit crabs get stressed they wind up experiencing many complications. Therefore, you want to avoid stressing the crabs.
What types of things cause hermit crabs stress? It could be something as simple as noise.
Loud noises really bother hermit crabs and make them feel uncomfortable. This is why you shouldn’t put hermit crab habitats in rooms where you play loud music.
Hermit crabs will be bothered by loud television noises, barking dogs, loud traffic noises, and many other things. Do your best to find a quiet and peaceful room for the hermit crabs.
Sometimes hermit crabs will get stressed by the presence of other pets, too. For example, cats are very scary to hermit crabs.
It makes sense because cats are predators and they do like to hunt various creatures. Dogs can be intimidating and noisy as well.
If you own cats and dogs, it’s wise to keep them away from the hermit crab’s habitat. You’ll do a better job of making the crab feel safe.
Loneliness is even something that can cause significant stress. Hermit crabs do better when they’re kept in groups.
It’s advisable to keep three or four hermit crabs in one habitat. Of course, the habitat needs to be large enough to comfortably house all of the crabs.
When hermit crabs get very lonely, they might become stressed. This could lead to erratic behavior and even losing legs or claws.
After learning the information above, you should understand what it means when your hermit crab loses a leg. This isn’t a good thing to have happen, but it doesn’t mean your hermit crab will be permanently without a claw.
It can regrow the claw, but it’ll take some time for this to happen. Depending on how things go, it might take two or three molting sessions for the hermit crab’s claw to fully regrow.
Hermit crabs can lose claws for a number of different reasons. It could be that the crab experienced a physical injury when fighting another crab.
They can lose claws when they become very stressed. It can also happen if they’ve been exposed to chemicals.
Sometimes hermit crabs will lose claws when dealing with pest issues. There are so many things that can cause this to happen.
Do your best to provide your hermit crab with good care. Ensure that it has the right humidity and temperature settings.
Solve any issues that you can find. Your crab should survive and thrive so long as you correct any mistakes in the tank and start being more careful.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.