You Won't Get Pinched Every Time You Hold Your Hermit Crab...If You Know How to Do It Right

Posted by Diedra Blackmill on Mar 7th 2019

Smiling person holding hermit crab

True story:

I once had hermit crabs as a kid.

I was equipped with all the knowledge of a grade schooler...and all the lack of mindfulness.

When I bought the crabs, they came with care instructions, including tips on how to hold them.

But somehow I neglected to follow those instructions and ended up with a frightened hermit crab attached to my then extremely uncomfortable hand flesh.

Allow me to provide some advice and prevent you from the same fate with your crabs.

Here’s how to hold a hermit crab THE RIGHT WAY so you don’t get pinched...

Don’t pick them up every day

First of all, hermit crabs do not particularly like being handled.

They are not the kind of pet you take out to cuddle. Sorry if that’s what you were looking for.

Like many other exotic pets, these crabs tend to get stressed out when they’re handled too often. And stressed pets become sick pets.

You can kind of think of hermit crabs like tarantulas. In fact, they have quite a few similarities:

  • They’re both arthropods;
  • They shed an exterior layer for a new one (shell vs. exoskeleton);
  • They can both cause you pain when you handle them.

The nice thing about hermit crabs is that if you do get pinched, it’s less likely to break skin and lead to an infection than a tarantula bite. It’s the little things we appreciate about our pets, right?

Make sure they are out of their shell

A hermit crab that is out of its shell is a comfortable crab. Once your crab gets to used to you, it will likely start coming out of its shell more often.

Hermit crab out of shell

“How to Handle a Hermit Crab” by Animal Lover

But a crab in its shell is not in the mood for being interacted with.

If your crab is just resting, you can try picking it up by the shell and seeing if it wants to come out.

Start at the back

Pick up your crab by the back of its shell, where its legs and claws can’t reach you.

Person holding crab from the back

If you’re really scared of getting pinched, this is probably the place to stop for you. Gently put your crab back down wherever you need to relocate it.

If you want to bond with your pet crab, move on to the next step...

Make yourself difficult to pinch

Only try holding your crab on the palm of your hand if the animal is out of the shell, active, and appears unstressed.

Putting an in-shell crab on your hand may startle it, motivating the animal to reach out and feel around for something to pinch in order to protect itself.

(Trust me; that’s exactly how I ended up with a crab attached to my hand.)

Once the crab is out, hold your hand flat with the fingers together. This pulls your skin tight and reduces the pinchable areas.

Person handling hermit crab

“How to Handle a Hermit Crab” by Animal Lover

Now, let your crab walk around on your flat hands. You can even put your hands one in front of the other to create a kind of crab treadmill.

Keep your hands close to a table in case the crab falls off.

Consider wearing gloves

If your crab is a pincher, or you’re really scared of the idea of how pinching might feel, you can put on some thick gloves for skin protection.

Do you have more tips on handling hermit crabs? What are your tricks for preventing pinching? Share them with us on Facebook.

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