Do Hermit Crabs Bite? {What To Do & How To Avoid Pinches}


by Simon Griffiths


Hermit crabs have been touted to be marvelous pets, but new owners will always fear them because of their long pincher claws. Novice keepers have always feared their aggressive look, hence begging the question – do hermit crabs bite or pinch?


Do Hermit Crabs Bite?

Hermit crabs do not bite as they lack teeth. They’ll instead pinch your palm or whatever part of your hand with their pincher claws. It’s sometimes a sign of aggression, but they’ll do so as a way of holding on to your hand or when they feel scared.

Does this mean you can’t handle your pet hermit crab? Probably! As we mentioned in our article on hermit crabs as pets, these creatures do not like handling. You should just leave them to do their crabby antics without necessarily having to pet them.

Do Hermit Crabs Pinches Hurt?

A pinch by a large hermit crab with large claws will hurt while a small hermit crab pinch won’t hurt. 

Assuming your little crab pinches your hand, will it hurt or draw blood? Well, the answer to this question will differ depending on the size of your hermit crab. Small crabs have tiny pincher claws and there is a chance that their pinches won’t draw blood.

On the other hand, adult hermit crabs are more likely to hurt you when they pinch. Large crabs tend to have strong, large claws that have the ability to pierce through your skin and draw blood.

That said, you still don’t want a small or big crab pinching you. The pain is quite bad and can be compared to a cat bite. Some of these pinches will leave a wound or scar on your hand, so be careful when handling crabbies.

Related – How Big Do Pet Hermit Crabs Get? 

How Strong Is A Hermit Crabs Pinch?

A hermit crab’s pinch is considerably strong than most reptile pets. Their pinching force is great enough to break your skin and leave a wound.

Surprisingly, coconut hermits have recorded a pinching force that ranges from 29.4 to 1765.2 newtons. Keep in mind that the pinching force is equivalent to the crab’s size and weight.

What To Do If A Crab Pinches You

What should you do on the off chance your hermit crab pinches you? Well, such scenarios rarely happen, but you ought to stay prepared. Here are a few tips you can use when your crab pinches you:

  • Always keep calm when your crab pinches you. Panicking will only make things worse because the crab will continue holding on to your skin.
  • Do not try to force your crab to release your skin as it will most likely pinch harder. The best course of action is to gently try to get the hermit crab to release
  • In case your hand is high above the ground, try to lower it to ground level and the hermit crab will slowly walk away if it feels safe to do so.
  • The other option is to place your hand in the crabitat. There is a high chance that your crab will feel safe and release your skin.
  • If any of these options fail to work, then you can place your hand in freshwater or saltwater. This option works every time a hermit crab pinches you. Remember not to use tap water as it might have harmful chemicals such as chlorine and chloramine.
  • Do not flick your hand because the hermit crab might drop so hard, eventually breaking their shell or even losing its claws.

How To Avoid Hermit Crab Pinches

Hermit crab pinches can be quite scary, especially when you think about the effort that goes into coaxing the crab to stop pinching you. Luckily, you can avoid these pinches altogether. Well, you might get pinched once in a while unless you refrain from handling hermit crabs.

  • Hold The Hermit crab by its shell

This is so straightforward! Holding your hermit crab by the shell will minimize any contact with the pincher claws. Remember that the crab legs and crawls won’t get to your skin when you grab the tip of the shell.

Some crabs will prefer to retract into their shell when you handle them, but they’ll get used to it with time. Just don’t hold them for long as they might get stressed and scared.

Related How Does A Hermit Crab Look Without A Shell

  • Keep Your Hand Close To the Ground

A crab will always feel safe when it is close to the substrate or floor. Make sure you are handling the little crab close to the floor because it will feel less inclined to pinch you. Besides, it won’t have any reason of holding on to your skin because of the fear of falling.

  • Wear Leather Gloves

If you must handle your hermit crab, then I would recommend that you wear leather gloves. This way, your crab won’t manage to pinch your skin. Instead, it will pinch the gloves if it feels inclined to do so.

  • Keep Your Palm Stretched

Leaving little to no room for your hermit crab to grab on will reduce the chances of pinches. One way to do this is to tighten the skin on your palm by stretching your fingers. Maintain this position until you release the crab back into its terrarium.

Related Do Hermit Crabs Make Noise – Where Do Chirping and Croaking Come From?

Wrapping Up

For those who didn’t know whether hermit crabs bite or pinch, you can now tell the difference. What’s more, you can avoid being pinched, and most importantly, you know what to do when a hermit crab pinches your skin or fingers. Stay safe and keep your crab safe, happy, and healthy!

Simon Griffiths

Hi guys, my name is Simon, a fellow pet lover. I love everything about traditional and exotic pets so I am here to help you create a better home for your pets.