My hermit lost a claw and a leg

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Amelia D
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My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Sun May 24, 2020 8:33 pm

My hermit crab buried himself to the bottom of the tank for two days. I woke up in the morning to find he had moved to the opposite side. This afternoon his large claw and leg appeared maybe an inch away from him. They were not there this morning. There is no death smell and he has retained his color. He is not limp and will not fall out of his shell. I’m not sure if he is stressed, sick, dead, or doing something related to molting. Please help! Thank you!


The dirt in my take is coconut oil based and meant for various types of reptiles. It is about 1 1/2 inches think. I have no gauges to measure the tank humidity and temperature. It should stay around room temperature (70 F) but gets cold overnight. There is no heat provided in the tank. The water provided is purified tap water. I feed regular hermit crab pellets with occasional freeze-dried fruit. The food is replaced every 2 (ish) days. I’ve had this crab since February of 2019. It is a purple claw Caribbean hermit crab. This crab has never molted before. It is fairly small. The crabs I have are kept in an all-reptile clear-wall cage with a grid like lid (for ventilation). There is one other crab which is about twice the size of this crab. About 8 weeks ago there was another crab also two times larger. It passed away while molting. There are 6 extra shells. There have been no fumes or chemicals. I clean the tank every two weeks by soaking the accessories in hot water, replacing the dirt, and rinsing the cage with room temperature water. There are no sponges in the water dish. Nothing new has been added to the crabitat. He has a painted shell. Random info: His name is Astro.
Last edited by Amelia D on Sun May 24, 2020 8:53 pm, edited 5 times in total.


Topic author
Amelia D
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Joined: Sun May 24, 2020 6:00 pm

Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Sun May 24, 2020 8:51 pm

Update: He is not dead. I’ve been keeping an eye on him. He’s been moving his remaining legs around, though he has not walked anywhere. So just a clarification: he is alive but not walking (yet).

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CrabbyLover77
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 8:54 pm


I'll put my suggestions under your comments. Hope it helps!
Amelia D wrote:My hermit crab buried himself to the bottom of the tank for two days. I woke up with morning to find he had moved to the opposite side. This afternoon his large claw and leg appeared maybe an inch away from him. They were not there this morning. There is no death smell and he has retained his color. He is not limp and will not fall out of his shell. I’m not sure if he is stressed, sick, dead, or doing something related to molting. Please help! Thank you!


The dirt in my take contains is coconut oil based and meant for various types of reptiles. It is about 1 1/2 inches think.

CL77- It's recommended to use eco earth, play sand, or a combination of the 2. Usually most of us here use a 5:1 ratio of sand to EE. It should be moistened with dechlor fresh or salt water, and mixed to sand castle consistency. Your substrate should be at least 6" deep, or 3x as deep as your biggest crabby, whichever is deeper.

I have no gauges to measure the tank humidity and temperature. It should stay around room temperature (70s) but gets cold overnight. There is no heat provided in the tank.

CL77- It is extremely important to have a humidity and temp gauge. Hermit crabs have modified gills and need moisture to breath. Humidity should never drop below 70% (ideal is 80%+), and the temps should be 75-85°F.

The water provided is purified tap water.

CL77- The water should still be treated with a dechlorinator like Prime. It neutralizes any heavy metals in the water.

I feed regular hermit crab pellets with occasional freeze-dried fruit. The food is replaced every 2 (ish) days.

CL77- Most pellets marketed for hermits have preservatives and aren't safe for them. Variety is key. There should always be a protein and calcium source in the tank. Crabs can eat much of what we eat (unseasoned/unflavored meats, fruits, veggies, eggs, shrimp, cuttlebone, eggshells, calcium powder, and more). Check out the HCA's safe food list for more details.

I’ve had this crab since February of 2019. It is a purple claw Caribbean hermit crab. This crab has never molted before. It is fairly small. The crabs I have are kept in an all-reptile clear-wall cage with a grid like lid (for ventilation). There is one other crab which is about twice the size of this crab. About 8 weeks ago there was another crab also two times larger. It passed away while molting. There are 6 extra shells. There have been no fumes or chemicals.

I clean the tank every two weeks by soaking the accessories in hot water, replacing the dirt, and rinsing the cage with room temperature water.

CL77- Theres no need to replace the substrate unless there is a flood or bacterial bloom. Spot cleaning for poop and food is fine.

There are no sponges in the water dish. Nothing new has been added to the crabitat. He has a painted shell. Random info: His name is Astro.

CL77- As soon as he changes out of the painted shell, make sure you throw it away. The paint can be toxic for hermits.
It sounds like your crab may be stressed out. If you correct your tank issues asap, he could recover.
-Add sand/EE to the correct depth
-Get a thermometer/hygrometer asap(calibrate it, how to do so is also in the care sheets).
-If you think the temps are dropping below 75°, an uth (under tank heater) will need to be purchased. A lot of members recommend an Ultratherm pad. Be sure to place it on the back or sides of the tank above the substrate line. Never under the tank.
Good luck! Feel free to ask questions if needed!



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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
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CrabbyLover77
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:00 pm

My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw


Topic author
Amelia D
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Sun May 24, 2020 9:18 pm

Thank you so much! I will be sure to fix as much as I can. Quick question though. I usually have a half-log that my crabs like to hide under. Whenever I try to mist the tank (for humidity), the log becomes moldy. The only way to kill the mold is to let it sit under the sun for a couple hours (UV light I believe). If I am to continue to increase the humidity (much more now), how should I prevent the log from becoming moldy? Thank you!

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CrabbyLover77
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:24 pm

Amelia D wrote:Thank you so much! I will be sure to fix as much as I can. Quick question though. I usually have a half-log that my crabs like to hide under. Whenever I try to mist the tank (for humidity), the log becomes moldy. The only way to kill the mold is to let it sit under the sun for a couple hours (UV light I believe). If I am to continue to increase the humidity (much more now), how should I prevent the log from becoming moldy? Thank you!
You're welcome! Image

The best way to inhibit mold growth is to give the log a good soaking and scrub in dechlor salt water. I totally forgot to ask, do the crabs have access to both fresh and salt water (they need both). They should have dishes deep enough they can submerge in, and a way to easily climb out. The salt water will be regular dechlor water, mixed with a marine salt like Instant Ocean. You can also scrub and soak the log in that salt water mix.
https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostor ... arium-salt

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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw


Topic author
Amelia D
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun May 24, 2020 6:00 pm

Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Sun May 24, 2020 9:40 pm

The crabs only have fresh water. I'll make sure to supply them with salt water asap. Already I have quite the shopping list. Under tank heater, thermometer, hydrometer, dechlorinator, and marine salt. Did I miss anything important? Also I checked the dirt I used. It is Eco Earth. One more question: would I have to scrub and soak the log every time the mold grows? I don't have a problem with continuously cleaning the log, I'm just wondering if there is something I can do to prevent the mold growth from the start. Would misting with salt water do any good? Thank you again for all your help! I didn't realize before that I was hurting my hermit crabs.

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Hermielover121
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Hermielover121 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:53 pm

Don’t stress just get those needed items and it should be fine. Also remember to put the under tank heater on the side or back not on bottom. What type of wood is it. I don’t know from the top of my head what woods are not good but it should be on here somewhere. I have some mold problems too but just spraying and soaking in salt water is all I can think of too do. Good luck


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CrabbyLover77
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:56 pm


Amelia D wrote:The crabs only have fresh water. I'll make sure to supply them with salt water asap. Already I have quite the shopping list. Under tank heater, thermometer, hydrometer, dechlorinator, and marine salt. Did I miss anything important? Also I checked the dirt I used. It is Eco Earth. One more question: would I have to scrub and soak the log every time the mold grows? I don't have a problem with continuously cleaning the log, I'm just wondering if there is something I can do to prevent the mold growth from the start. Would misting with salt water do any good? Thank you again for all your help! I didn't realize before that I was hurting my hermit crabs.
For your hygrometer/thermometer, you are best off getting a digital one. They tend to be more accurate than analog gauges. The 2 I use in my tanks are actually the little humidity/temp gauges you'd set out in your house. They don't have to specifically be for reptile/animal enclosures.
All EE is good for the substrate, but a little trickier to maintain (it floods a little easier). So it would be up to you if you want to get play sand at the hardware store to mix in with it. You can get a 50 lb bag of sand for under $5 in my area.
Make sure not to get a Zoo Med uth. A lot of people on here say they don't work well. Here's a site where you can buy the Ultratherm if you can't find it in the store:
https://www.reptilebasics.com/ultratherm-heat-pads
Get the size that will cover the entire back or side of your tank. You can always unplug it if it gets too warm, but if you go to small, it won't heat up enough and you'd have to buy another.
The salt water bath and scrub of the wood will actually help prevent mold growth from happening to begin with. Image
Try not to beat yourself up. When I first joined here last Aug, I had a lot to fix too!

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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw

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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:57 pm

Hermielover121 wrote:Don’t stress just get those needed items and it should be fine. Also remember to put the under tank heater on the side or back not on bottom. What type of wood is it. I don’t know from the top of my head what woods are not good but it should be on here somewhere. I have some mold problems too but just spraying and soaking in salt water is all I can think of too do. Good luckImage


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That's a good point about the wood being safe for crabbies. I believe what woods are safe or not are listed under the "safe/unsafe food" list.

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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw

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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by GotButterflies » Sun May 24, 2020 10:07 pm

It appears that everyone has covered the basis of getting your tank off in the right direction!

In the meantime, you do not want to handle your crab. Crabs drop limbs when they are stressed out. Provide him with honey, calcium and proteins. He will regrow those limbs in no time at all. I know it will be tempting to pick him up and look at him, but try not to. Just get your tank as correct as possible, and he will do better. I personally recommend getting your tank temperature and humidity both to 80/80.

We are here for you if you have any questions! :) Good luck!
Truly blessed to have incredible creatures, wonderful friends and my amazing family in my life!! I'm very thankful & grateful for all of them! www.thehealthyhermit.com


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Amelia D
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Sun May 24, 2020 10:19 pm

My crab has moved a bit more since he lost his leg and claw, which I assume is good. I'll probably be back with more questions in the future. I can't thank you all enough for the help!

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CrabbyLover77
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sun May 24, 2020 10:21 pm

You're welcome! Fingers crossed for you and the crabby.

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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw


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Amelia D
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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by Amelia D » Mon May 25, 2020 8:36 am

I woke up this morning to find that my crab has moved!! He is now maybe an inch away from where he was yesterday. I know that isn’t much, but it’s something.

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Re: My hermit lost a claw and a leg

Post by GotButterflies » Mon May 25, 2020 10:02 am

Amelia D wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 8:36 am
I woke up this morning to find that my crab has moved!! He is now maybe an inch away from where he was yesterday. I know that isn’t much, but it’s something.
That's great - like I mentioned previously - don't handle him. Provide him with honey, calcium, protein, (and other necessary food pyramid items), dechlorinated freshwater and dechlorinated marine saltwater. If then given the proper humidity and heat, he/she will molt in no time!
Truly blessed to have incredible creatures, wonderful friends and my amazing family in my life!! I'm very thankful & grateful for all of them! www.thehealthyhermit.com

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