Like other members of the order Decapoda, hermit crabs have a total of 10 legs. These include the chelipeds, or front claws, which are used for grasping and pinching. The larger of the two chelipeds is designed for self-defense and for protectively closing the opening of the crab's shell.
The smaller front claw of the hermit crab is used for feeding and scooping water. The fifth pair of legs assist in grooming the gills and removing waste from the shell, while the other pairs are reserved for movement. The long, coiled, soft abdomen of the hermit crab is extremely vulnerable, and the crab protects it by living in an empty seashell or other suitable object.