The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Hermit crabs have started to become very popular pets over the last several years. It’s pretty common for people to keep them as pets these days.
They can be a lot of fun to own and many people have fallen in love with them. Hermit crabs are interesting to observe and they don’t require a lot of attention.
Since they’re easy to care for, hermit crabs are good pets for many different types of people. This doesn’t mean that hermit crabs can’t have problems, though.
Have you noticed that your hermit crab has lost a leg recently? When this happens, it causes owners to start worrying a lot.
What would cause a hermit crab to lose a leg? Why did this happen and what do you need to do to help your pet?
Read on to learn more about this topic. You should have a better understanding of what’s likely to be happening once you’ve gone through all of the information.
Why Do Hermit Crabs Lose Their Legs?
Hermit crabs can lose their legs for a number of different reasons. This isn’t a good sign, though.
Losing a leg is generally a sign that something is wrong with the crab. It could be that something is wrong with the crab and you’ll need to address the situation.
When a hermit crab loses a leg, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the crab is dying. Even so, it’s not something that you should ignore.
Below, you’ll get information about reasons why hermit crabs lose legs. This should show you what’s probably going on so you can make some changes to protect your hermit crab.
1 – Poor Tank Conditions
The most common thing that causes hermit crabs to lose legs involves poor tank conditions. When the conditions aren’t good in the tank, it’ll make it tougher for the hermit crab to live normally.
Have you been cleaning the tank and ensuring that the conditions are optimal? Perhaps something is wrong and you’ll need to make changes for the sake of your pet.
There could be issues with the heater in the tank. These creatures need the temperature to be in the right range to stay healthy.
You never want to let the temperature drop lower than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that the conditions in the tank are appropriate for the hermit crab.
2 – Tank Size Issues
Tank size issues could be to blame for the lost limb. Some beginners make the mistake of putting hermit crabs in habitats that simply aren’t big enough.
Small hermit crabs can live in smaller tanks. Two smaller crabs should be fine in a 20-gallon tank, but they might need a larger one if they get bigger.
Adult crabs that are rather large do better in 40-gallon tanks. You might want a habitat that is even larger than that if you are caring for many crabs.
Be sure that the crabs have more than enough space. Cramped habitats can easily cause hermit crabs to lose legs and experience other health issues.
3 – Humidity
The humidity of the tank is something that you must pay attention to. If you don’t, it’s going to be hard for the hermit crabs to remain healthy.
Hermit crabs have modified gills that allow them to breathe oxygen. The gills must remain moist or they won’t be able to breathe properly.
Issues with low humidity will stress the crabs. This could lead to limb loss as well as other problems with sickness.
To keep hermit crabs healthy, it’s necessary to maintain high humidity in the tank. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a small humidifier in the room where the hermit crab habitat is located.
The humidity level in the hermit crab’s tank should stay between 70 and 80 percent. This ensures that the crabs can remain healthy and breathe normally.
4 – Mites
Mites can be a big problem for hermit crabs, too. These pests can bother your hermit crabs and they can stress them so much that they will wind up losing legs.
It’s difficult to see the mites up close since they’re microscopic. You might barely notice black and tan flecks on the hermit crab, and if you look closely, you could see the flecks move.
When you don’t treat the hermit crab when it’s infested with mites, it’ll cause it to get sick and injured. The crab could lose several legs and it might even wind up dying.
To fix this issue, you should place the hermit crab in a holding tank while you clean its habitat thoroughly. You can use a small vacuum to remove the mites from the tank.
Wiping the tank down with water should be enough to remove any mites that might remain. Allow the tank to dry in the sunlight after you’re done.
You should boil any tank accessories for twenty minutes to get rid of mites. Conversely, you could throw the accessories away and buy new ones.
Removing mites from the crab is as easy as dipping it in dechlorinated water. Turning the crab upside down is the best way to get air bubbles out of its shell.
There’s also mite medication that you can buy from the store or get from a veterinarian. This should kill the mites if all else fails.
5 – Fighting with Other Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs are generally peaceful, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t fight. Sometimes hermit crabs might fight and injure one another.
This will often happen when two hermit crabs are fighting over shells. If one hermit crab wants the other’s shell, it could cause a serious fight.
Occasionally, the fighting will be so bad that one crab might lose a leg. You can avoid situations such as this by buying multiple shells of each size.
This should keep hermit crabs from fighting over shells. You can keep hermit crabs together successfully so long as the environment is big enough and you take steps to make them less likely to fight.
6 – Stress
Stress is something that sometimes causes hermit crabs to lose legs. When a hermit crab gets stressed, it’s going to struggle to live normally.
Significant stress issues have been known to cause these creatures to lose legs. Poor tank conditions will cause stress and so will pests such as mites.
Fighting with other crabs will cause stress. Even living in a room that is excessively noisy might stress your hermit crab.
Do your best to give your hermit crab an environment where it won’t be stressed. This is the best way to keep your crab safe.
7 – Illness
Illness might make the hermit crab lose a leg as well. Sometimes these creatures will get sick and limb loss will be one of the symptoms.
It’s possible that the crab might get sick due to problems in the tank. An overcrowded tank can easily cause stress, and it’ll make it easier for diseases to spread.
When a hermit crab loses multiple legs, it’s more likely that you’re dealing with some type of illness. You might want to reach out to an exotic veterinarian for assistance.
This will allow you to get to the bottom of what’s going on. You can determine the right treatment for the crab so you can help it to get better.
8 – Molting
Occasionally, hermit crabs will lose legs during the molting process. Molting is something that hermit crabs do many times in their lives.
You’re supposed to leave them alone when they’re molting. Disturbing a hermit crab when it’s molting can actually kill it.
Even if the hermit crab doesn’t die, it might wind up losing one or more legs. Moving or disturbing the crab in any way is going to be a poor idea as a hermit crab owner.
When the crab digs into the substrate, it’s best to leave it alone. Even if you’re worried that the crab has died, it’d be better to wait until you’re sure so you don’t accidentally cause the crab’s death.
Do Hermit Crab Legs Grow Back?
Yes, hermit crab legs can grow back. They don’t always grow back, but they can do so the next time the hermit crab molts.
Hermit crabs are also capable of growing back their claws. You’ll simply have to wait and see if things grow back when the hermit crab molts again.
Generally, hermit crabs molt once every eighteen months. You can usually tell when a hermit crab is getting ready to molt.
Its legs and claws will usually look rather droopy and they’ll appear weak. You’ll also see that its gel limb has become more defined and expanded as it prepares to molt.
When you look at the eyes, you’ll see that they appear different than usual. You’ll notice that the eyes are cloudy and dull.
Remember to leave the hermit crab alone when it’s getting ready to molt. It’ll be fine if you give it some space and don’t bother it.
The molting process can take quite some time. It usually lasts between four and eight weeks.
If all goes well, the leg that your hermit crab lost will grow back. It’s normal to be worried about your hermit crab during this time, but you’ll simply have to be patient.
Can You Do Anything to Treat Limb Loss?
So is there anything you should do for your hermit crab when it loses its limbs? It could be quite some time before the hermit crab is ready to molt again.
Sadly, there isn’t anything you can do for the crab but wait until it’s ready to molt again. You’ll want to fix any conditions in the tank that might have caused the crab to lose its limb.
This means monitoring the tank conditions to ensure that everything is as it should be. You might need to address problems with the temperature or issues with the humidity in the tank.
If mites are present, you’ll need to clean the tank and treat the hermit crab to get rid of them. Failure to do so could lead to the death of your hermit crab.
One good thing to know is that limb loss can lead to more frequent molting periods. So your hermit crab might molt again before the usual eighteen months have passed.
If you feel worried, you can always talk to a local exotic veterinarian. These professionals can help you to identify the cause of the lost limb.
They can recommend what to do until the hermit crab is ready to molt. Generally, it’ll just involve caring for the hermit crab carefully.
In some cases, you might want to isolate the hermit crab for its own safety. Hermit crabs that have lost multiple limbs might have a hard time living with other hermit crabs.
They could be in danger of getting bullied by the other crabs. Thus, it’s good to isolate the hermit crab for safety purposes until it has regained its limbs.
Take Care of Your Hermit Crab
Do your best to take care of your hermit crab. You can prevent issues with limb loss if you do a good job monitoring the hermit crab’s tank.
Typically, you’ll be able to avoid issues by keeping the tank clean and ensuring that the conditions remain normal. Pay close attention to problems with temperature and humidity.
If you see signs of mites, you’ll be able to fix things quickly. Cleaning and treating the hermit crab with medication will do the trick.
Avoid fighting issues when you care for multiple hermit crabs in the same tank. Having multiple shells of each size should limit fighting.
You can also try to give the hermit crabs a habitat that is more than big enough. It doesn’t need to be overly large, but the hermit crabs will do better if they aren’t forced to live in a cramped space.
These hermit crabs can be excellent pets and they don’t require as much attention as many other pets. This doesn’t mean that you can ignore them, though.
Simply do your best to check on the hermit crab regularly. Monitor things as you should and it shouldn’t be difficult to keep your hermit crabs healthy.
Even if your hermit crab loses a leg, it’ll likely be fine. In some cases, crabs will lose legs when they’re getting ready to die.
If your crab is relatively young, this shouldn’t happen unless it has been cared for poorly. When you need help with your hermit crab, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to an exotic veterinarian.