Do hermit crab pinches hurt

Do hermit crab pinches hurt?

Hermit crabs are one of the favorite pets for aquarists and sealife lovers. The reason why hermit crabs are the most popular pets in aquariums is that they are shy and harmless creatures. However, they often get offended, or something else intrigues them to pinch the aquarists. A common question arrives here – “Do hermit crab pinches hurt?”

Hermit crab pinches do hurt a little. Their pinches are often uncomfortable and can cause some pain. However, their pinches are not typically dangerous. Moreover, the hermit crab keepers mostly said that their crabs try to pinch their hands when they carry them. So, it’s essential to handle them gently to avoid getting pinched.

Let’s see how badly hermit crabs pinch on our hands and why they pinch their aquarists. All of your concerns about this “pinching behavior” of hermit crabs are discussed in this guide. So, let’s dig in to know the facts!

Do Hermit Crab Pinches Hurt?

Yes! According to the report of the Hermit Crab Association, hermit crab pinches do hurt, but not badly. Their pinches are so small and even less painful. You can say that the hermit crab pinches are not harmful to anyone. If you get used to their pinches, you’ll start living with them.

Most of the time, hermit crabs try to grab on with the help of their legs, and the crab keeper thinks it is trying to pinch or bite his/her hand. But that’s not the case! They just want to get a grip so they do not fall and stay safe in your hand.

Fun Fact:

Hermit crabs often break their claws or legs in order to escape from the grip. However, their limbs start growing again after some time. The regrowing process of the limb is known as “Regeneration.”

Do Hermit Crabs Pinch or Bite?

Hermit crabs do not bite. As I have mentioned before, hermit crabs pinch with the only tools they have – pincher claws. In fact, hermies are not aggressive types of crabs; they are simply passive.

If you try to hold them in your hand and they feel threatened or unbalanced, they will try to have a firmer grip on your hand with the help of their claws and legs. So, it’s evident that hermit crabs primarily pinch as a defensive mechanism to protect themselves. They are not known for biting in the way some other animals do.

Important Note:

Hermit Crab has two claws. One of the claws is smaller and used to grab things. The other one is bigger and used to fight against enemies and threats. If I simply talk about the size of the claws of the more giant hermit crabs, they simply show their claws to ward off the smaller predators and other hermit crabs.

Why do hermit crabs pinch?

Many reasons cause hermit crabs to pinch. For example, hand-feeding is a common reason hermits try to pinch your hand or fingers if you give them with your uncovered hands to eat. So, a few of the other reasons are given below:

  1. Going Through Molting Process:

Firstly, hermit crabs pinch when they are going through a molting process. In this process, they sleep a lot, eat less, become inactive, and try to pinch other mates (and even the owners) due to changes in their exoskeletal body. They become moody and don’t like it if anyone tries to touch them, especially during the molting stage.

  1. Stranger Things & Threats:

Secondly, hermit crabs try to pinch when they think the other person or a tank mate is a stranger. To protect themselves, these crustaceans use their only armor, claws, as a safety tool against strangers or a threat.

Most commonly, whenever they feel threatened, they try to attack the opponent with their claws and pinch the skin of the opposite party. It is said that hermit crabs are ductile, while all hermit crabs are not!

  1. It’s in Their Nature:

No matter how much care you give your hermies and how you try to make them feel safe, some hermit crabs will always try to pinch you. This is not your fault; it’s in their nature. You would have seen hermit crabs that try to toggle on your skin whenever you put your hands in their aquarium.

After some time, they’ll start pinching it out of hunger, nature, curiosity, and unknown reasons. More importantly, aggressive behavior is pervasive in various species of crabs, and it is also present in hermies.

  1. Stress and Anxiety:

Some hermit crabs go through anxiety and stress. For example, if the hermit crabs are collected from their wild habitat, they’ll resist the limited aquarium environment.

As a result, those hermit crabs experience stress and anxiety and try to pinch with their claws to get out of aquariums. To escape from the captive environment, they’ll try to do whatever they can to return to their habitat.

  1. Hermit Crab is Hungry:

If the food supply for hermit crabs is low in the tank, they will try to pinch you to get more or enough food to meet their dietary needs. Plus, if you disturb them at lunchtime or when they are busy eating something, they’ll try to hurt you with a little pinch. It happens when they feel you are trying to snatch their food items.

In addition to the causes mentioned above of hermit crab pinches, unsafe feelings, lack of trust, bad water conditions, lack of energy, and being new to the captive environment are the most common causes that lead them to pinch you.

Related article: How to tell if hermit crab is male or female?

What to do if a hermit crab pinches you?

Try to stay calm and relaxed if a hermit crab pinches you. This is important because if you throw your hermies on the wall or the floor, they’ll get hurt or even die. So, always get ready so they can pinch you any time, intentionally or unintentionally.

Here’s what to do to avoid hermit crab pinches or to handle their pinches:

  1. Pick them from behind:

If you want to pick up your favorite hermit crab, try to pick up the hermie from behind, not from the front where their claws are located. Also, handle them with care when you pick them up in your hand from their rear legs that they use for swimming (these legs are connected to their shells).

  1. Use Crabbing Gloves:

If you are extra conscious about getting a pinch from your hermit crab, you can use crabbing gloves. These gloves will protect your skin from hermit crab pinches and scratches. You can use a sock in your hand to pick up your hermies.

  1. Release them in water safely:

Still, if the crab pinches your skin, put your hand calmly in the water and release the hermit crab into its aquarium safely. Don’t panic. Instead, handle them with utmost care and respect!

  1. Handle with care!

If your hermit crab has pinched you badly before, don’t worry; the pain of the hermies’ pinch goes away quickly. Remember, the size of the hermit crab also matters a lot. If the hermit crab is smaller in size, its pinch will not hurt you badly. If it’s bigger in size, then you must be worried about their pinch while handling them with bare hands.

Watch this informative YouTube video to learn more about “Do hermit crabs pinches hurt?” and “How to handle them with precautions.” I hope you’ll get more directions about hermit crabs and their painful pinches.


  1. Is it OK to touch hermit crabs?

Yes, it’s perfectly OK to touch hermit crabs. You can even hold them in your hand. However, they are CRABS, and crabs have claws that they use to pinch your skin. Additionally, make sure your hands are clean and free of any substances that can harm them.

  1. Do hermit crabs pinch with teeth?

According to the research of Chesapeake Science, hermit crabs eat with the help of teeth. They gave 1 to 3 teeth in their mouth. However, their teeth are not helpful in biting or pinching. They use their teeth only for eating purposes.

  1. How painful is the hermit crab pinch?

The pinch of a baby hermit crab is less painful, while the pinch of a bigger hermit crab is quite painful. It can cause breaking your skin and even bleeding.

  1. How to get a hermit crab to let go of your finger?

If your hermit crab ever pinched your finger, hand, or palm, do the following to let go of them:

  • Try to lower your hand to ground level immediately. This way, the hermit crab will leave your skin and move towards the ground.
  • Flatten your hand so that it becomes difficult for a hermit crab to pinch on your hand. If the hermie has squeezed you already, they’ll release your hand if you flatten it.
  • Last but not least, immediately put your hand in the water. The hermit crabs like water, and they’ll leave your hand and try to swim in the water.

Wrapping – Up!

So, we have come to the conclusion of our guide, “Do hermit crabs’ pinches hurt?” And we found that hermit crab pinches do hurt a little. That’s why try to avoid putting your fingers in between the sharp claws of the hermit crab.

It’s one of the best practices to avoid getting hurtful pinches from these friendly crustaceans. However, still, if you want to have them in your hand, there are many methods that you can try to make them your best friends. As a result, they start trusting you and will never pinch you. 

What’s your hermit crab reaction when you try to hold them in your hand? Also, share your experience getting your first pinch from your hermit crabs in the comments section.

Thank you for reading my guide about these cute and cuddly aquatic crustaceans. If you have a query, let me know in the comments section. I’m all ears!