How to Handle Crabs Safely

Holding fresh caught live crabs.


So you pulled up your trap and have a whopping load of crabs in the trap with all eyes on you and sharp, pointy pinchers in the ready position.

What to do…

Scream and run is a natural first response. But this method doesn’t get you any food on the table.

We’ll show you how to make your crab catching experience a painless one.


How to remove and sort your crabs from your trap:

Wearing gloves adds extra protection to your fingers but is not necessary.

  1. First off you need to have a plan for your keepers or ones that might be large enough to be keepers. A bucket or cooler is ideal.
  2. Next, spot out an easy crab to pick up, one that isn’t tangled in your crab gear.  Approach this crab from the back, and pick it up by holding the back of the body, in between the two back legs.
  3. If the crab is a female or undersized throw it in the water right away.
  4. If you need to measure the crab, turn the crab over and with the other hand that isn’t holding the crab, rub the belly near the back legs with two fingers. Take extra care not to get close to the pinchers. This rubbing motion will put the crabs to sleep temporarily so you can easily measure them.

*Once you get confident at handling crabs you can easily hold your crab with one hand and rub their belly with you thumb of the same hand.

Measure your crab from the widest part of the back of their shell. A good tool for this is the yellow crab measuring caliper.

Once you get near the bottom of your trap and you find crabs that are tangled in your gear you need to display a lot of patience, otherwise you will get hurt.

With eight legs and two pinchers it’s easy for crab to become a tangle mess, especially if you use dip nets, ring nets or other traps that we don’t recommend you purchase. See our crap trap page here.

Gently and cautiously remove the crab from the trap one leg at a time. Don’t be surprised if your stubborn crab re-tangles itself on the netting.

Keep doing this process until all your crabs are free of your trap.

Head on over to our safe storage page and find out how to keep your crabs alive for the journey home.


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