Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

This is a forum dedicated to Hermit Crab Association members posting pictures of their crabs and crabitats.
Post Reply

Topic author
HPOfficeJetPro6978
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:19 pm
Location: NorthEast America

Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by HPOfficeJetPro6978 » Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:27 pm

Hello everyone! I somewhat recently acquired 4 hermit crabs, and have heard some mixed advice from many communities about handling crabs. Should i be handling them at all? i know they are very solitary animals, and like to spend their time alone and secluded from humans and among their own, but is it possible to gain their trust and have them not be afraid of you? i just feel so bad everytime i go into the tank to change something around and they retreat back into their shells, so naturally i wondered if i could somehow make them learn im not out to eat them! Also on the side, are there any tips you guys have to increase their activity? I have an almost perfect crabitat, great temp, humidity, and alot of stuff for them to climb but they just never use it, even the first one i got whos been here forever. All is appreciated, thank You! :) Edit: Id like to post a picture of the actual crabitat so maybe someone can identify some areas i need to improve on, but im not sure how to post an image?

User avatar

Xenocrab
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by Xenocrab » Tue Apr 21, 2020 12:42 am

Every crab has an individual personality. We have 40 crabs, 5 tanks. It is their natural response to hide. They are food for bigger animals in the wild. Some of our crabs don't mind us at all. I had an E come towards me this evening when I "talked" to him. Some like the attention. Others will take off faster than the speed of light. I know, by observing my crabs, that some are use to me and know me. Others, I've had for many years and they still act like I'm going to kill them. I had one crab that use to try to attack me every time I changed foods. It took over a year to her to like me. Some are aggressive towards me, some don't care at all, and some still run. I clean their extra shells in dechlorinated salt water. They like that and are attracted to them. I've learned some favorite foods of theirs and the treats they like.
Long story long, they will do what they want, despite our efforts. All you can do is observe and learn from them. Learn their individual likes/dislikes. They will teach you patience. There are no tips and tricks. I don't know if this helps at all. Some crabs that have known me for 10+ years, are still very skittish after a molt. In a few days..to weeks, they acclimate to the change and go back to normal. Just watch and learn. Like I said, they are all unique individuals. My only concern about having crabs out of the tank is the heat and humidity for them. They have modified gills, so humidity and heat are important. I've seen people hand feeding their crabs and it works great. My crabs wouldn't have anything to do with that if I tried. They are overall a hands off animal. However, some crabs don't mind. Just keep the crab's health first in mind.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk


6 babies, 4 Es and 15 PPs.

User avatar

curlysister
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2149
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by curlysister » Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:28 am

I am hands off, other than to give a quick check now and then, usually a week or so after they come up from a molt. Sonny doesn't run away when 'The Hand' descends upon the tank to change food/ water etc. But Cher runs and hides every time. I figure the less I can stress them the better. Crabs don't have the capacity to learn things or to 'bond' like a cat or dog.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers

User avatar

Links
Posts: 412
Joined: Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:41 am
Location: United States

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by Links » Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:45 am

You’d probably have to have you hand in the tank every day for long periods of time for them to get used to that. But what do I know that might just continuously scare them to the point they don’t do anything and then die. I don’t touch mine if I don’t have to so I am hands off as well.
As far as uploading pictures you can download the Tapatalk app and upload pictures from there or you can use an external site and post the link to the picture.

User avatar

Crabby7Crabber
Posts: 919
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:24 pm

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Tue Apr 21, 2020 8:44 pm

"THE HAND" tends to hold up my crabs once every month or so, and tries to hand feed them food (during this time I like to take a few pictures for my hermit crab scrapbook). Of course it fails miserably, and they end up crawling up my arm while I'm scrambling to grab them and put them back :lol: . For the most part I just watch them fool around in the tank. A few times, though, I have tried moving one finger up in down in front of them through the glass when they're just sitting there, watching me like creeps. They actually, for the most part, wave their antennae back at me (I learned this trick from this website. I remember the person that came up with it being called "The hermit crab whisperer"? Was it GotButterflies?). And like Xenocrab has said, each crab has an individual personality. But please don't feel bad if they hide! Welcome to HCA, by the way! :D
Three PPs (Hoodini, Aaron Burr, and Jubali)
R.I.P George Washington, Zero, Domino, Billy, Eduardo, Shelly, and Cosmo the dog

User avatar

Motörcrab
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2088
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:56 pm
Location: Coal Region in Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by Motörcrab » Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:51 pm

I going to have to disagree with crabs not being able to learn. You're not going to teach them to play fetch or shake hands like a dog. They don't have that sort of memory. I believe they learn locations of things in their environment. If you startle a crab it will run to the nearest hide. If they didn't learn where the hide was, they would run all over the tank until they see it. It takes one crab to find the wheel and use it. After a week all the crabs are in it. We have noticed crabs walking in wheels and get out for a snack or drink. Then they turn right around to walk in the wheel more. Once crabs find the wheel the first time they always keep going back to walk. They also have their own favorite sleeping spots they go to every day. Our one crab picked a favorite spot in a hanging piece of cholla. Every day that crab is there.

I have seen videos on Instagram and facebook of people hand feeding hermit crabs. I'm not sure how long they worked at it. Also if you look at Jonathan Livingston Crab and Carol Ormes. They have the an one of a kind bond between them. He has no fear of her at all. They seem to draw energy from one another. They have been together for 44 years so I'm sure it has taken lots of time to build that type of bond.

I would say it is possible to work on a bond with your hermit crabs. I just believe it is something that may take years or decades to achieve.
Coenobita Curiosities offering crabby decor
https://www.etsy.com/shop/CoenobitaCuriosities

User avatar

JoeHermits
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1346
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:26 pm

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by JoeHermits » Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:13 pm

I think personality and temperament are important. Obviously a crab that is outgoing and inquisitive is going to show fewer stress responses than a crab that is timid and easily frightened.

For that matter, I think it’s more of a tolerance and learning what will and will not cause harm than a true social or emotional bond. We’re not even sure how strong their bonds are with each other and the fact that we tend to anthropomorphize their behaviors isn’t helping.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Topic author
HPOfficeJetPro6978
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:19 pm
Location: NorthEast America

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by HPOfficeJetPro6978 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:12 pm

Theyre just very inactive overall, just wanna make sure theyre not depressed or something

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk



Topic author
HPOfficeJetPro6978
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:19 pm
Location: NorthEast America

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by HPOfficeJetPro6978 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:13 pm

Finally able to get a picture in, any suggestions on my tank layout are much appreciated :)Image

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk



Topic author
HPOfficeJetPro6978
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:19 pm
Location: NorthEast America

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by HPOfficeJetPro6978 » Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:22 am

And they do have a moss pit, its just the corner not visible stuffed with spagnum

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk


User avatar

wodesorel
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 9764
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:49 am
Location: Leetonia, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by wodesorel » Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:26 am

The more time you spend near them, the calmer they get. My Rug is an extreme case, but because I'm mostly home bound and spend a lot of time working from and hanging out in bed, it also means I spend a lot of time within a few feet of her. My cats also love to hang out on top of her tank constantly, slamming on and off the lid at all hours of the day. Because of all the movement and noise and vibrations, she is really chill! She rarely ever runs or hides, and usually only ducks away for a moment. It takes a lot for her to get startled.

Responding to shadows and movement overhead is a hardwired response though that you will probably never get them to break. Birds are a huge danger in the wild, probably their biggest predator, so anything going overtop them makes them panic. That kind of survival instinct is innate.

[The hermit crab whisperer is wolfnipplechips. She figured out using two wiggling fingers as antennas to engage with hermits. It does work! Hopefully we aren't offending them though...]
Want to see all my crazy pets? @waywardwaifs on Instagram

User avatar

Xenocrab
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by Xenocrab » Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:29 am

I always wiggle my fingers at my crabbies! They seem to respond..well, they watch me and some come closer to the glass. No idea what I'm saying to them! I'm glad I'm not the only one that does this!

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

6 babies, 4 Es and 15 PPs.

User avatar

CrabbyLover77
Posts: 1387
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:30 pm
Location: PA

Re: Handling crabs and gaining their trust + activity

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:08 pm

Xenocrab wrote:I always wiggle my fingers at my crabbies! They seem to respond..well, they watch me and some come closer to the glass. No idea what I'm saying to them! I'm glad I'm not the only one that does this! Image

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
I do it too lol! My big Beau that I've had for almost 8 years seems to respond to this this most. I'll wiggle my fingers, and his little antennae will pop out, and he'll wiggle them in the direction of my fingers. He went under 3 weeks ago, and I miss doing that with him lol. Image

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 4 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw

Post Reply