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Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:21 pm
by Seizan
I live on Okinawa and have cats and dogs. My wife and I rescue them. We have a deep respect and love for just about all animals, wild or domesticated.

I used to keep LHC when I lived in the States over 40 years ago. I no longer keep LHC but I still love them, and my wife and I often feed the “wild” ones that stop by for years for treats.

Now and then, I come across a LHC that had been struck by a car and lost legs or claws. I keep them safe if they are still alive, bring them home, put them in a small terrarium, keep them close to food and fresh water, and have a 50/50 success rate with recovery. Sometimes they winter it out in my home, molt, and regrow legs. If the season is right, after they recover and molt showing new legs and better health, I release them on a secluded beach nearby my home. But sometimes they don’t make it past a week if they are injured too badly.

This morning on my way to school (I am a school teacher) I stopped to pick up a small LHC that was lying in the middle of the road. It has only one leg and has retreated deep into its shell (shell opening is about 1”, the crab is small).

This is one of the worst injury cases I have seen. The previous one this bad didn’t make it. Though I don’t keep these anymore as pets, I feel an obligation to give injured creatures as much a chance as possible…

What is the best food to aid in the healing purposes? I can’t shop until tomorrow as I have school all day and an after-school obligation. When I get home today, I can give it fresh water, maybe some common household food like shredded cheese, some fresh mashed fruit, etc. But what is best in an emergency? In my experience, crabs as badly injured as this do not move for a day or so, probably coping with intense pain and stress, but if it decides to move, sensing food and water, what is best until I can get some good-quality fish food, kelp, crushed cuttlebone, oatmeal, etc.?

Shell is in good condition. I think it was crossing the road and on being hit by a car, all but one leg was crushed off against the rim of the shell (they lay scattered and broken on the road next to the crab). I didn't see claws on the road and can't see if it still has either the large one or its feeding claw. I only know it is still alive and has recessed deep into the shell, trying to cover up with its one leg. Right now it’s resting in the quiet shelter of my clean coffee cup at the bottom of my backpack, in semi-darkness as I keep the top of the pack loosely open for fresh air. I put a tissue on the bottom of the cup to cushion it against rattling around when the pack gets moved, until I can get it home in about 5 hours...




Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:42 am
by Rawrgeous
I wanted to start of with saying thank you so much for being such a kind individual, and trying to help hurt animals, what you are doing is a very noble thing. I'm not sure how recent your experience with lhc is, so I'll go ahead and link our care guide. I wont sugar coat, it sound like this lil one has had it rough, but, there have been crabs with NO legs that have miraculously made it. With him being hurt, I would skip the shredded cheese, as its not really part of their natural diet. Eggshells with albium, and non-pasteurized, raw honey are common "healing foods." The honey has natural antibiotic properties, and is a high energy food. Organic peanut butter with no added salt is also a good high- energy food. With him having no claws, or way to get the food to his mouth I suggest peanut butter, and honey on q-tips sticking out of the sub right in front of him. I'd offer the eggshell as well, as if he wanted to, his mouth should be powerful enough to grind it down. Fresh coconut is also a good high-energy food. I'd give him with a capful of dechlorinated salt and fresh water, and provide darkness and quiet. He will need to have a successful molt to survive. I am going to link an old thread from Wodeserol, who used to mod here, about the limbless crab she helped recover. It should help! Thread: ... hp?t=82507
Basic Care Guide : viewtopic.php?f=51&t=92457

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:18 am
by Giner13
I agree with Rawrgeous! Hopefully it'll pull through, but it does sound bad.
Thank you from me too for doing such!! These guys need help in situations like this sometimes.

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Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:48 pm
by Seizan
Hi folks,

Thanks for the responses...!

Well, things look hopeful -- it survived the night. I approached the tank carefully (so not to change the lighting and alert it of my presence) and saw that it had extended its one leg out of the shell to balance it a bit so it could eat and eliminate. I opened the tank and it withdrew again into the shell. I took it out of the tank gently and changed the food (same fruit mash as last night, we are out of honey and my wife gave the last of the coconut oil to the dogs yesterday). So after school today I will go off to the commissary and purchase oil, honey, salt-free all-natural peanut butter for protein, etc.

It was suggested that I crush a calcium tablet into powder instead of eggshell. There are some trace "other ingredients" in the calcium tablets we have, but it seems to be mostly calcium from shellfish, shrimp, and shark bone. These "other ingredients" are there to help keep the tablet shaped, dry, and to help it break up during the digestive process, I guess.

We also have glucosamine pills.

Any suggestions regarding this being a good idea -- to crush and mix tiny amounts of these with tonight's honey-oil etc. mash?

By the way, we share our home and garden with two dogs (one rescued) and 30 -- yes, thirty -- cats. And now, one lhc. Some of the lhcs that visit for food are fairly large so I imagine they are fairly old. Some shells have nearly 2 inch openings and the crab inside is rather large. A couple have become almost used to me and do not retreat into their shells when I approach, but most do.

There are also a few much smaller ones, but despite we are so close to the beach, we are not overrun with lhc. In all, my wife and I count maybe 10 of various sizes and ages that visit us regularly.

They don't really eat much, and the cats have learned to leave them strictly alone.

It being autumn already, if this little patient does well, I will release it here at the house next spring or early summer when it's completely recovered and when the others return for the season, and let it follow them to wherever they've been living for the past decade or so...

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:22 pm
by Seizan
Oh, about coconut oil -- that was a suggestion from our Okinawan neighbor who is an old fisherman. He said coconut oil is easy to digest in tiny amounts mixed with peanut butter and honey (how did he know that?). The crushed calcium pills was my idea, and my wife suggested adding glucosamine.

Comments on that?

I'd like to try this in apple sauce (fresh-crushed apple), maybe add a little more water, and see what the crab does with that mixture.

If all goes well, in a few days I will start adding small amounts of crushed turtle food and/or fish food. PS - I do not use certain "common-brand" turtle/fish foods (I hesitate to mention brand names) but we buy at a local Japanese pet shop where the stuff is high-grade and rather elite. Don't really need much anyway, not for one small crab.

It can't really move from one place to another in the tank. It can only push itself up a bit with its one leg. So I have to place it directly over the food in a very small shallow dish (actually, a soy-sauce dish that looks like a small round shallow clamshell).

As with other injured crabs, I will change it from being over food to water regularly, and leave it over the shallow water bowl at night (same size shallow dish as the food, it can't submerge but can drink). Food and water will be changed 3 to 5 times a day (esp. water). Once it seems on the road to recovery, I'll give it more water for bathing.

Right now though, it still seems to be in shock, so I won't move it around too much. No need to further startle it or add more stress.

We have a typhoon coming to lock us in for this Sunday and next Monday, maybe into Tuesday, so I'll be spending lots of time at home to look after things...

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:05 am
by Rawrgeous
I'm not sure about the calcium tablets, but if they contain any amount of copper, I would stay away from them, but they could also be totally fine but the coconut oil should be fine for sure. Seeing the ingredients would help a bit. Cuttlebone, chicken bones/any bone meal would work, any crab caraspace/ legs as well all are great sources of calcium. Egg shell is just usually the easiest to obtain, and people tend to have eggs on hand. There is a safe foods and water section under food and water that might help with finding food sources that are easy to obtain for you. :)

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 5:38 am
by Seizan
Update: After a bit of shopping, I returned home and concocted the following.

1 level teaspoon each:
raw unfiltered honey
fresh applesauce
coconut oil
peanut butter

2 teaspoons water

Initially I added the powered calcium tablet, but I tasted it myself and the mixture tasted sweet with an unpleasant bitter overtone. I decided not to use the calcium tab, but later will crush an eggshell in the pill crusher. So I remade the mixture minus the calcium tab.

I put about 1 teaspoon of the mix into the shallow dish and placed the crab on top. The near-immediate response was to come far enough out of the shell to balance with its one leg, put its mouth on the food, and eat.

Unable to sex it until after full recovery, so I will arbitrarily call it a her. I dislike referring to any living thing as "it".

I'll leave her to eat for an hour or so, then replace the food with fresh water. Honey is great stuff but it dehydrates organisms (that's why it's a good antibiotic -- it leeches moisture out of bacteria). She will need to stay hydrated.

I'll also research through the "safe food" list mentioned... Thanks for your help and support. She just might make it after all.

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:12 am
by Rawrgeous
No problem, and best of luck. Just make sure she gets food and water daily. I would use that thread as a guide. That particular crabber is amazing at caring dor animals, and did several rehabilitations on far gone animals. The little one is a fighter!

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Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:16 pm
by StayLoki
just wanted to say you're awesome!
so kind of you to try to help those little guys and good luck!! :)

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:38 pm
by bbcraft22
i wonder how a hermie can survive being hit by a car..... crab luck!

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:55 pm
by Seizan
I have be watchful... She's getting feisty. She can't really "get around" in the terrarium, but she tries. She can only turn herself over upside-down with her one leg. When I came downstairs to feed the animals this morning I noticed her upside-down waving her one leg in the air. Turned her back over on her food/water dish and she settled down.

I changed her water for food; this morning she has grated pear with honey and just a dash of water. Around noon I'll replace the with water again for about 3 hours, then back to the honey/peanut-butter/coconut oil/water mix, this time with some powdered eggshell and oatmeal added.

Looks like she did indeed lose both her claws and antennae. But she is a fighter.

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:58 pm
by cap7
Good for her and thanks to you for your care!

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Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:59 pm
by Seizan
Took two sun-dried eggshells and placed them in an Okinawan mortar. This is a ceramic bowl about 5" across by 3" deep, and has a rough interior. Actually, the roughness is caused by hundreds of narrow furrows inside the bowl, all in parallel lines slightly curving in toward the bottom of the bowl. Our friend Aya Banba is a pottery master and often gifts us with some of her fantastic artistic creations; this was one. It is as functional as these have been for hundreds of years, with her own artwork along the outside.

I used the wood pestle and started by crushing the shells into tiny fragments, then softly grinding in alternating directions, then across the bowl and back, then the alternating circular pattern, etc. I mention this because many people don't understand how to grind in such an old-fashion mortar; they just pound at it, do a few circular moves, and the results are usually pretty rough. But done gently and by taking time, the results are quite surprisingly different.

After about 10 minutes of careful grinding, the eggshell was about as fine as talcum powder. This is one way tea is prepared for the Cha Ceremony. Must be ground to an extreme powdery fineness.

I added all of the powder to the food mix I keep in the fridge. With all ingredients, I have about 1/4 cup of crab-restorative food in a small glass baby-food jar. I tasted it and with the eggshell it's a tiny bit gritty-tasting, but otherwise quite good.

So, here's my mix to date:

1 teaspoon each (not necessarily "level"; let's not be stingy, everything is approximate anyway):
raw unfiltered honey
fresh fine-mashed apple or pear
coconut oil
peanut butter

1.5 teaspoon 100% natural whole-grain cooked oatmeal (not the instant kind!)

2 fine-ground eggshells

3 teaspoons water

Mix all thoroughly and keep in the fridge. Take out only what will be used immediately, place in feeding bowl, and let it stand to achieve room temperature.

Don't let the cats hog it (we have two cats that like peanut butter, a few who are just plain curious and will try anything, and the bulldog will eat anything if he can reach it).

I rather doubt there are any actual medications that can be used for something like an lhc with injuries like hers, but then I haven't researched the rest of this site yet. It would be nice if there was something known to help naturally alleviate the pain she must be feeling.

Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:07 am
by Rawrgeous
There really isn't anything for hermit crabs that will heal them. If you can get some kind of animal protein when she gets a bit more strength up, it might be good to add to the the mix. Many use reptile crickets, or dried shrimp for turtles. Or really any other meat... Otherwise, it Sounds like you're doing well! :) Hopefully this is the beginning of recovery!

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Re: Badly-injured LHC, hit by car...

Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:28 pm
by Seizan
OK, we seem to be doing well enough so far. Next step to consider...

She cannot actually leave the feeding/watering dish with one leg. I have seen her pull up far enough from the shell to look about. No antennae.

When she is ready to molt, what do I do to help? I can't just put her out of the dish because I'm not sure if she's eaten or drank enough to make it through the molting stage. She can't dig, she can't walk, she can only stay in one place and eat/drink (that's why there is only one dish; she can't transit from a food dish to a water dish when she wants to, so I switch food and water 3 to 5 times a day).

Any observations regarding telling when the time is right for molting, and what to do for her?