You want to do your best to care for all of your pets. Pet hermit crabs are amazing, and they aren’t too hard to care for overall.
Many people are warming up to keeping these fun little creatures as pets. They can be so much fun to observe, and you’ll also like that they’re relatively low-maintenance pets.
Sometimes things might go wrong when caring for hermit crabs, though. For instance, you might see that your hermit crab has lost a leg.
Why would a hermit crab lose a leg? What should you do to help the hermit crab out?
Read on to learn about this situation and what to expect. It’ll help you to understand what you should be doing when you notice that your pet hermit crab has lost a leg.
Why Do Hermit Crabs Lose Their Legs?
There are a number of different reasons why hermit crabs might lose legs. When a hermit crab loses a leg, it’s not something you should ignore.
It’s possible that there might be something wrong in the tank that you’ll need to address. Below, you’ll learn more about why hermit crabs lose their legs.
1 – Poor Tank Conditions
One common reason why hermit crabs lose legs involves poor tank conditions. The conditions in the tank simply might not be as good as they should be to keep the crabs healthy.
This means that you need to set up the tank properly. Hermit crab tanks need to have a certain amount of substrate.
If you don’t have enough sand in the tank, that can stress the crabs and cause them to lose legs. It’s also important to monitor the temperature of the tank as well as the humidity.
You need to keep the temperature in the tank between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity level must remain between 70% and 80%.
Do your best to keep an eye on things. Also, keep the tank clean so that the hermit crabs can stay in good health.
2 – Mite Infestations
Sometimes hermit crabs might have to deal with mite infestations. Mites are very small parasites that can be tough to see with the naked eye.
Mites can sometimes be attracted to the tank because of leftover food. This is why it’s imperative to keep the tank clean.
Always remove food debris as fast as you can. If mites infest the hermit crab tank, your hermit crab can experience many problems.
It’s normal for hermit crabs to get sick and become very stressed when dealing with mites. You can get rid of them, but it’ll take a little bit of effort.
You’ll need to clean the tank thoroughly, replace the substrate, boil decorations and gravel, and submerge your crab in water. It might take several dips for your hermit crab to get rid of the mites completely.
Don’t wait to act if you suspect that your hermit crab is dealing with a mite infestation. It’s important to act quickly so you can turn things around.
There have been situations where hermit crabs have died due to problems with mites. If you don’t take action, your pet will be in danger.
3 – Fighting with Other Crabs
Is it possible that your hermit crab could have been fighting with another crab? Most people choose to care for hermit crabs in small groups.
It’s normal to have two or three crabs in the habitat. You might see them fight over things from time to time.
The most common things that hermit crabs fight over are shells. Shells will be the cause of conflict if there aren’t enough of them.
This is why you should keep multiple shells of each size in the tank. Doing so keeps hermit crabs from needing to fight each other.
When hermit crabs fight, they might get injured. One hermit crab might lose a leg or two in the fight.
Try to keep hermit crab fighting to a minimum in the tank. This will help to keep all of your crabs safe.
4 – Stress
Stress is also known to cause hermit crabs to lose legs. Hermit crabs can become stressed for many reasons.
Loud noises have the potential to stress hermit crabs. Putting a hermit crab tank in a loud room is never a good idea.
You don’t want to keep them close to noisy televisions or stereo systems. Find a good spot for the hermit crab tank to avoid issues such as this.
Other pets such as cats and dogs can stress hermit crabs. It’s wise to keep them away from the hermit crab habitat so they don’t scare and stress the crabs.
Handling hermit crabs too much can make them lose legs as well. You should keep handling to a minimum when caring for these pets.
Hermit crabs don’t enjoy being handled. It’s a stressful experience for them even when you do it as safely as possible.
5 – General Sickness
Another possibility is that the hermit crabs could be sick. Sick hermit crabs might lose legs.
Does your hermit crab appear to be unwell? You might need to get the help of an exotic veterinarian that’s familiar with hermit crabs.
Diagnose the problem and try to get the hermit crab healthy again. If professional help isn’t available, pay attention to the symptoms and try to use online information to troubleshoot the situation.
6 – Being Disturbed During Molting
Molting is something that hermit crabs do every so often. Hermit crabs molt so they can grow new exoskeletons.
The molting process takes quite a bit of time. It can take weeks or even months.
New hermit crab owners might get worried about their pets during this time. They might bother the pet to see if it’s still alive.
It’s normal for hermit crabs to be motionless while molting. Disturbing them can have dire consequences.
If you bother a crab while it’s molting, it could wind up dying. Even if the crab doesn’t die, it might experience shock and wind up losing some legs.
Leave hermit crabs alone when they’re molting. It’s simply not safe to bother them in any way during this time.
Do Hermit Crab Legs Grow Back?
Yes, hermit crab legs can grow back. It just takes time for the hermit crab to grow its legs back.
Regrowing legs is something that hermit crabs can do by molting. First, the hermit crab will form a sort of “gel limb.”
It’ll look sort of like a small bump, but this will develop into a full limb over time. The process isn’t a fast one, though.
Several molting sessions might be necessary for the hermit crab to regrow a leg. Often, hermit crabs will molt more frequently when they need to regrow legs.
There’s the potential that the hermit crab’s new leg won’t be as large as the original leg. This sometimes happens and there isn’t anything to worry about if it does.
Continue to care for the crab optimally while it’s regrowing its legs. This means monitoring the humidity and temperature in the tank while giving it high-quality food.
Keep the tank clean and make sure that you’re giving the crab access to both freshwater and saltwater. Also, be extra careful not to expose the crab to any chemicals.
Over time, the crab will regrow all of its lost legs. You will need to address the problems that caused the hermit crab to lose its legs in the first place, though.
If you do nothing, there’s no reason why the hermit crab wouldn’t continue to lose legs. The hermit crab might even die if you continue to make mistakes caring for it.
Tips for Keeping Hermit Crabs Healthy
Keeping hermit crabs healthy isn’t that hard, but you might need advice if you’re new to this. You could be making little mistakes that are causing the hermit crab to lose legs.
The following tips for keeping hermit crabs healthy will make a difference. These pieces of advice should help you to avoid situations that will cause hermit crabs to lose their legs.
If you can make the necessary adjustments, it should be even easier to care for these pets. You can turn things around by putting in the effort.
Get a Tank That’s the Right Size
It’s not wise to keep hermit crabs in habitats that are too small. You don’t need a tank that’s far too large for the number of crabs that you own either.
If you’re caring for two crabs, it’s best to have a 20-gallon tank. This will give you enough room for the hermit crabs to thrive.
Hermit crabs might not be able to be comfortable in a smaller tank. This could lead to more conflict between the two crabs, and it might also stress the crabs.
Do your best to pick an appropriate tank size for the number of crabs that you own. Full-grown hermit crabs might need larger tanks such as 40-gallon tanks.
Use a Humidifier and a Heater
Are you using a heater and a humidifier in the hermit crab tank? If not, you should think about starting.
Keeping the humidity and the temperature in the right range is important. It’s easier to do this when using humidifiers and heaters.
A humidifier makes it much simpler to keep the humidity in the tank between 70% and 80%. You should buy a high-quality humidifier that will work for the tank.
Using a heater is wise since hermit crabs don’t do well when the temperature dips below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to set the heater appropriately and use a thermometer to keep an eye on things.
It’d be good to have a hygrometer and a thermometer in the tank. This will allow you to easily monitor everything and keep the hermit crabs safe.
Feed the Hermit Crabs Well
Feeding the hermit crabs is another important part of keeping them in good health. Make sure that you’re giving them the right types of food.
Hermit crabs don’t eat too much at once. You just need to make sure that they have a balanced diet.
These crabs will need protein, fruits, and veggies to thrive. You can give them mealworms or krill as sources of protein.
They like various fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, grapes, and broccoli. Just be sure to wash the fruits and veggies with dechlorinated water before feeding them to the crabs.
Give the Hermit Crabs Access to Shallow Water Dishes
Hermit crabs need to have access to water at all times. It isn’t an optional thing.
You need to put two shallow water dishes (at a minimum) in the tank for the hermit crabs. One dish should contain freshwater while the other contains saltwater.
The dishes must be deep enough so the crabs can fully submerge their bodies in the water. They must be easy enough to get out of, too.
Hermit crabs can drown if they get stuck in the water dishes. So you need to choose appropriate water dishes to keep the crabs safe.
When giving water to the crabs, it’s important to use water that’s safe. Hermit crabs are very sensitive to chemicals.
Tap water could harm a crab and might even kill it. You always need to use dechlorinated water.
Be careful to give crabs the right type of water. This is an important aspect of keeping them healthy.
Clean the Tank Regularly
You should be taking the time to clean the tank regularly. Hermit crabs can get sick and become stressed when the tank is dirty.
It’s advisable to do some cleaning each day. You should do some spot cleaning on a daily basis.
Remove fecal matter from the tank and ensure that leftover food is removed as well. You can check the tank a few times per day to see if you can do some quick spot cleaning.
Once per week, you’ll want to do a more thorough cleaning session. This will be important to keeping the tank clean and safe for your pets.
Keeping up on the cleaning will make it far less likely that you’ll have issues with pests. Mites likely won’t become a problem if you’re proactive when it comes to cleaning.
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.