Over the last couple of years, crayfish have managed to climb from being a relatively niche, unpopular pet kept by a very small number of people within the fish keeping hobby to one of the fastest growing species when it comes to popularity.
We actually thought keeping crayfish in aquariums would just be a fad but rather than falling out of favor, crayfish have just gone from strength to strength and there are a large number of people actively keeping crayfish in their tanks right now.
With so many people keeping pet crayfish now compared to only a few years ago, the number of questions that we see about caring for a pet crayfish is higher than ever.
We already have a number of articles going over some of the questions that we have seen people asking but we have noticed some people asking if crayfish claws grow back recently so wanted to focus on that for today’s article.
Due to so many of the people, we see asking about crayfish claws growing back often worrying about the health of their pet crayfish, we wanted to publish this dedicated article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Why Do Crawfish Claws Fall Off?
There are a number of different reasons that a crawfish claw may fall off and in many cases, this is totally normal and it is not something to worry about.
This is actually pretty common with many different species of crustaceans and they will usually grow the limb back given time and a suitable diet.
Although most of the reasons that a crawfish/crawfish claw may fall of are natural, it may be recommended in some cases as a form of treatment for various injuries.
The most common one of these is to treat shell rot in crayfish but there are some less common problems where it may be better to remove the claw of the crawfish to encourage a new one to grow.
Is Self Amputation Normal In Crayfish?
Although it might seem a little bit strange, self-amputation is actually a pretty common occurrence when it comes to crayfish and other crustaceans.
When an injury happens or a claw becomes damaged, sometimes the best thing that the crayfish can do is to remove the limb/claw to prevent any further damage.
This is often seen as a survival mechanism in the wild but when it comes to captivity, there is no reason for the crayfish to lose any limbs unless there is an underlying health problem.
If you see your crayfish removing one of its own claws, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on the crayfish and if possible, seek advice from a vet or somebody experienced with crustaceans.
Can Crawfish Claws Fall Off During A Molt?
A molt is a process that all crustaceans go through where they shed their old hard exoskeleton and grow a new, larger one.
This happens multiple times during the lifetime of a crayfish but it is a very important time for the crayfish as if anything goes wrong, it can be fatal.
One of the things that can happen during a molt is that a crayfish may lose a claw as the old exoskeleton is shed but this is not something to worry about.
The new exoskeleton will usually have a new, larger claw waiting to be revealed but in some cases, it may take a few weeks for the new claw to grow in.
Claws Falling Off Due To Infection
Although rare, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections can cause the claw of a crayfish to fall off in some very bad infections.
Technically, a viral infection can also cause a claw to fall off a crayfish but this is usually much less common and in many cases, if the claw of your crayfish has fallen off due to a viral infection, the crayfish will usually die due to the infection over the coming days.
Thankfully, in most situations, the majority of people should be able to treat bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections in their crayfish quickly and easily.
Over the counter treatments like Pimafix or Melafix may be able to help but in some cases, you may need to get a specialist treatment from a veterinarian to treat the infection.
Do Crayfish Claws Grow Back?
Most types of crayfish are able to grow their claws back but even then, even if a crayfish is from a species of crayfish that has the ability to grow their clawback does not mean that they will.
For example, if the claw fell off due to an infection or injury, it may actually end up causing so much damage that the crayfish is unable to grow its claw back but thankfully, this is rare and not usually something to worry about.
In the vast majority of cases, a healthy crayfish should be able to grow its clawback within weeks but there are a number of factors that will come into play with this that we will go into more detail with later in the article.
As we mentioned earlier, in some cases, your crayfish may molt and its claw may fall off only to reveal a smaller claw already in place that is growing in.
This can cause people new to keeping crayfish to think that the claw of their crayfish may have gotten smaller overnight as they are used to a clean molt.
If you do notice that the claw of your crayfish suddenly got smaller during a molt, check the actual molt husk and you may find that there is a claw in there.
Can All Types Of Crayfish Grow Their Claws Back?
Although most types of crayfish can grow their claws back, this is not the case for all species of crayfish and in some cases, it may not actually be possible for a crayfish to grow a damaged claw back.
This is rare though and most people tend to keep the following species of crayfish as pets:-
- Red Swamp Crayfish
- Dwarf Orange Crayfish
- Blue Crayfish
- Common Yabby
- Australian Red Claw Crayfish
- Brazos Dwarf Crayfish
All of these are able to regrow a damaged or lost claw with relative ease and as most people keep one of these crayfish as a pet, there is a high chance that your crayfish can regrow its claw if needed.
Can A Crayfish Survive Without Claws?
Most pet crayfish can easily survive without one of their claws due to you providing the crayfish with food.
Not only does your care help your crayfish survive while it re-grows a lost claw but it also increases the survival of the crayfish if it is injured or unable to regrow the lost claw.
This is why crayfish have such a high survival rate when losing a claw if they are kept as pets as a simple issue that is easy for you to fix may cause a wild crayfish to perish.
We have articles going over 12 signs your crayfish is dying that you should read if your crayfish has lost a claw and is acting strange.
Other potential problems that you will need to keep an eye out for is your crayfish laying on its side, your crayfish not moving, and your crayfish not eating.
Depending on why your crayfish lost its claw, some of those symptoms may be expected and fade with time but in other cases, they may actually be an indication of a potential problem that you will need to fix as soon as possible.
How Long Does It Take For Crayfish To Grow Claws Back?
The time it takes for a crayfish to grow its claws back will depend on the severity of the damage, how healthy the crayfish is, and what species of crayfish you have.
In most cases though, if your crayfish is healthy and able to molt without any issues, it should be able to regrow a lost claw in 4-8 weeks with some crayfish species being on the lower end of that time frame.
Although this may seem like quite a long time, keep in mind that it can take months for a human to grow their nails back so 4-8 weeks is actually not that bad in comparison.
It is also worth noting that in some cases, the new claw may not actually be as big as the old one was and this is perfectly normal.
Do keep an mind that if your crayfish is still young, it may take a little longer for the new claw to grow back as their bodies are still growing and they may not have reached their full size yet.
If your crayfish is unable to molt or you notice that the new claw is not growing back, this may be an indication of a more serious problem and you should take your crayfish to a vet as soon as possible.
Preventing Your Crayfish From Losing Claws
Although it is perfectly normal for a crayfish to lose a claw during a molt, there are some things that you can do to help prevent your crayfish from losing its claws.
Maintain Water Conditions
The first and most important thing that you can do is to make sure that the water conditions in your tank are good as this will help your crayfish stay healthy and less likely to lose a claw.
Avoid Excessive Handling
You should also avoid handling your crayfish too as this can damage their claws and make them more likely to fall off.
If you do need to handle your crayfish, make sure that you do it gently and try to support their body as much as possible.
Avoid Dangerous Tank Decorations
You should also avoid putting anything in the tank that your crayfish could potentially damage its claws on such as rocks or plants.
Provide Plenty of Food
Another thing that you can do is to make sure that your crayfish has plenty of food as this will help them stay healthy and less likely to lose a claw.
You should also avoid overfeeding your crayfish as this can lead to health problems.
What Happens When A Crayfish Loses A Claw?
When a crayfish loses a claw, the first thing that you are going to want to do is check the wound to see if there is any damage.
If there is no damage and the crayfish has just lost its claw, then there is no need to worry as the crayfish will be able to regrow the lost claw.
However, if there is damage, then you are going to need to take action to try and save the crayfish.
The first thing that you need to do is clean the wound with some clean water.
If the wound is leaking internal liquid, then you may need to use some sterile gauze or a cotton swab to apply pressure in order to stop the bleeding.
Once the wound has been cleaned, you need to apply some sort of antibiotic ointment or cream to the wound in order to prevent infection.
After this, you need to keep an eye on the crayfish and make sure that the wound does not become infected.
If you notice any signs of infection, then you need to treat the crayfish as quickly as possible.
Losing a claw is perfectly normal for crayfish but there are some things that you can do to help prevent it from happening such as maintaining good water conditions and providing plenty of food.
If your crayfish does lose a claw, don’t worry as it will usually grow back within 4-8 weeks.
Keep an eye out for other potential problems though such as your crayfish not moving or eating as this may be an indication of a more serious issue.