3
   

BADLY injured LHC (land hermit crab)

 
 
Seizan
 
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2016 10:34 pm
I posted this on a LHC forums, but there and here are probably the two best places to find good answers. I am often surprised and gratified at the expertise found here, above most other places on the Net...

I live on Okinawa and have many cats and two dogs. My wife and I rescue animals, and we both have a deep respect and love for just about all animals, wild or domesticated.

I used to keep LHC (land hermit crabs) when I lived in the States over 40 years ago. I no longer keep them as pets but I still love them, and my wife and I often feed the 3 or 4 “wild” ones that have been stopping by the house for the past 16 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 it safe if it is still alive, bring it home, put it in a small terrarium, keep it 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 take time to recover. I'm not sure of the species, but I have seen them regrow lost legs...! If the season is right, after they recover and molt, showing new legs and better health, I release them on a secluded beach near 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…

OK, some may wonder -- why stop and rescue such a common and small creature? For one thing, an LHC can live for up to 40 years and actually be a great pet. That's potentially 40 years of life that can be saved for a small creature totally dependent on the kindness of someone who might stop and rescue it... For another, well... Some of us just do that sort of thing...

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 smaller 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 inside the bottom of the cup to cushion the little fellow against rattling around when the pack gets moved, until I can get it home in about 5 hours...

Suggestions?

Thanks,

Seizan
 
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2016 10:51 pm
No suggestions, Seizan, but I'm interest to follow, hope you find useful advice.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2016 11:00 pm
@ossobucotemp,
Hopefully there is someone here who has lots of experience with these small and helpful creatures, and has seen or treated this kind of severe injury before.

There are no "small lives"...
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2016 11:32 pm
@Seizan,
As a matter of a somewhat related situation, owners of tarantulas have supposedly used super glue to reattach broken limbs to their spiders. If true, it's hard to imagine they recover full use of the leg. Even if true, they had the missing parts at hand. It seems that tarantulas are very fragile and often break when they fall or are dropped.

I only mention this as I'm pretty sure spiders are very closely related to hermit crabs.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 12:24 am
@roger,
The few broken legs I could see were crushed flat on the road and shattered. From what I could tell, they were broken off right up to where they are attached to the body, not at a joint or two up from the ends. I doubt the crab would be cooperative enough to come out of the shell and allow me to glue them back on. Even if I could, they would only be stiff, immobile, dead legs to drag around.

Regarding spiders on Okinawa, I do not handle them -- not because they are poisonous (most are only slightly so, though we do have a "Yellow Widow" which is the poisonous Okinawan equivalent of the Black Widow) but because human handling of most spiders injure or damage the spider's legs. They are quite delicate and the pads on the tips of the legs are extremely sensitive. If I find one in an inappropriate place (i.e., in my home where the cats will only "play" with it until it's dead), I catch it in a net or carefully in a tissue, and put it out in the garden in a shady area.

I was once told by a SUNY entomologist that human skin oil harms the nerve endings on the delicate padding on the tips of the legs of many insects and spiders. It seems it actually hurts them to handle them. He theorized that this may be why a black widow spider bites "for no reason" if it crawls on you -- it may feel a burning sensation as its "feet" touch the skin, and bites at the cause of the pain (like most creatures will). Same for bees and other stinging insects -- they feel pain upon touching you (landing accidentally or to protect a nest) and take action against the cause of the pain.

Of course, some insects are better protected against this problem, like tarantulas and some beetles, etc.

By the way, we have some fairly big spiders here that make the classic circular net-type webs. These are "Banana Spiders" because of their size and body shape.

Want to see one? Go here:

http://navywifeadventures.blogspot.jp/2011/06/dumb-americans-guide-to-living-on_12.html

this is a pretty good blog and if you scroll down, you will find something about fish, snakes, hermit crabs, and about half-way down the page, banana spiders. And yes -- the body alone is frequently 3 inches long (sometimes 5 -- we have them in my backyard!).

Only an hour left here at school, then home to see what I can do for the little patient in my backpack...
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 12:46 am
@Seizan,
I've got to say, your wild life doesn't sound any worse than Papua New Guinea's.

Yes, I imagine you are exactly right about gluing limbs back on spiders' legs. I don't know why I even mentioned it.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 12:55 am
@roger,
It's something you heard of, maybe it was just the end of a leg like up to the first joint, and the spider could use it for support until molting and regrowing that missing part (do they regrow partially-lost limbs)?

I'm trying to imagine a tarantula sitting still for its owner to superglue its leg back on. I wouldn't think they like the strong smell of the glue...

On the surface, it sort of made sense since superglue was created for surgical use originally (I think) for closing wounds. Makes sense that someone might think it could reattach a limb (would be purely cosmetic anyway, until it decomposed and fell off again).
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 08:51 am
@Seizan,
those newer structural glues that they use in 3D printing(the kinds that set up vry rapidly under UV light. Should be considered for this body repair. As Roger said, the poly glues have been used in surgery for several decades and these newer ones allow you to set up a layered structure by applying thin strata of glue to the area of interest nd then "setting the glue under a small UV beam"
Id check with the closest research veterinary Hospital to confirm hether this is advisable.
In US we hqve several, two of the best are Tufts U and U of Pa vet
surgery and research center at New Bolton Center near Kennett Square Pa
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 02:39 pm
@farmerman,
Thanks, good stuff. But I'm afraid I just don't have the funds to retain a vet hospital, university, or vet research center for consultation regarding a small hermit crab...

I'll provide a quiet semi-dark place, clean water and the right foods, and let Nature take its course. I was advised to go to buy some all-natural salt-free peanut butter today to mix with unfiltered honey and a small amount of coconut oil. That and some powdered eggshell seems to be the best healing foods that are readily available.
0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 06:31 pm
Well, seems 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?
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 06:39 pm
@Seizan,
I'd go with the honey, oil and all-natural peanut butter in conjunction with the crushed calcium. Honey is such good medicine, especially if it is local.

Hopefully it survives another night.
Seizan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 06:50 pm
@ehBeth,
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...
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 07:29 pm
@Seizan,
I read your post at the LHC site. Looks like your little friend has good supporters.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 07:38 pm
@ehBeth,
I have been double-posting (here, and then there). I joined there yesterday after arriving at school with the lhc in my pack.

Moral support is very helpful and most encouraging! Especially since we lost Harmony to cancer last week, and found out this past Sunday that our beloved Cherie (who was adopted by another couple down the road from us) passed away recently.

I am determined to save this one...!
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 08:32 pm
@Seizan,
I don't have any advice for you but I have really enjoyed reading this thread.

I confess, at first I thought it was a prank but I fell into the beautiful sincerity of things and.... it made me feel... peaceful.

That blog is amazing! Thank you for the link. Tell the truth -- do you write it?
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Sep, 2016 08:54 pm
@boomerang,
The blog I cited isn't mine, it was just information I came across one day when I was looking for a way to show and explain the huge banana spiders we have here... It's pretty good, and the guy has a decent sense of humor!

Thanks for your kind words, though. I feel more confident taking care of animals, school, the karate dojo, students, and family knowing there are good thoughts floating around out there...!
0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2016 04:35 am
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.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2016 05:23 pm
@Seizan,
Did s/he survive?
Seizan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2016 08:39 pm
@ehBeth,
So far. She seems less tense and comes a bit out of the shell to see me when I change her food and water ( a few times a day). Right now she's sitting on a thin slice of banana, later I'll change that for fresh water, tonight I'll give her a mix of peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil. I'll grind up some more eggshell for her tomorrow.

My greatest concern now is whether she can molt and regenerate her lost legs and claws. Since she can't move about at all, other than to come out and eat or clean herself, I have to find a way to keep her fed and watered but feeling secure enough to molt when she's ready. She has to feel safe. But I have to check her food/water several times a day so I have to move her around.

I'll figure it out...
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2016 08:45 pm
@Seizan,
Good to hear..
0 Replies
 
 

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