Are Lobsters Dangerous, And Can They Hurt You?

You’ve probably seen lobster pinching others in cartoons, or at least you wondered what would happen if you get too close to a lobster with big claws. Lobsters are definitely strong predators in the ocean but are they dangerous to humans, and can they hurt us with their claws? In this article, we’ll talk all about it but let’s begin with a quick answer:

Lobsters aren’t very dangerous to humans, but they can cause us some pain if we get too close. If, for any reason, our finger ends up in lobsters’ claws, it’ll hurt, but lobsters most likely neither cut our fingers off nor crush our bones. Lobsters could also possibly hurt us with their mandible (jaw-like structures), or spiny lobsters could cut our skin with their spines.

However, even though this sounds like we should watch out for lobsters, they won’t cause us any serious injury and this probably will never happen unless we really try to get hurt by getting too close to a lobster. Below I’ll explain more about how bad lobsters could hurt us with their pincers, if they can bite, or sting us.

Furthermore, I’ll explain if lobsters can attack us arbitrarily and if there’s any closely related animal more dangerous than lobster. Read on!

Can lobsters hurt you with their pincers?

Lobsters can definitely hurt you with their pincers, but it’ll most likely end up with severe pain instead with your finger cut off or bones crushed. There are a lot of different aspects that can influence the power of the claws.

First of all, if you wonder if lobsters can hurt you with their pincers, we’re considering clawed lobster species, such as American or European lobsters, as others don’t have claws. Clawed lobsters have two claws that are slightly different and used for different reasons.

The crusher claw is larger and is used for crushing the prey. This claw looks more massive and probably can exert more pressure., The pincher claw is sharper and used to rip into the prey, so there’s more chance this claw could cut your skin.

crusher and pincher claw in lobsters

Lobsters can vary in size and strength a lot, and the power of their claws will depend on their size and life cycle stage. These animals keep growing throughout their whole life by molting, and scientists estimate they can live even over 100 years. Therefore, if you happen to meet angry lobsters underwater that will crush your finger, there’s going to be a difference between 2-year-old lobsters and a 100 years old one.

Some researchers say lobsters can exert pressure of up to 100 pounds per square inch (45 kg per 6.5 square cm). With this pressure, lobster can definitely cause pain but most likely won’t break your bones. However, everything, of course, depends on the individual body.

Coyote Peterson was brave enough to actually see what happens when the lobster pinches him. First, he tried to put his hand into the lobster’s claws, but the lobster didn’t have any interest in pinching him. The other attempt happened in an environment that was closer to its natural habitat.

During the other attempt, lobsters pinched him, this time with both crusher and pincher claw. The ripper claw hurt more as it was a lot sharper, and it was more difficult to take the hand out of the claw. Nevertheless, the lobster didn’t cut the skin nor break the bones.  

The attempt where the lobster pinch him starts at 21:25

Can lobsters bite you?

Lobsters cannot bite you with their teeth because they don’t even have teeth in their mouths. Their teeth are located in their stomachs, and they’re part of the “gastric mill” structure used for grinding food.

However, lobsters have strong jaw-like structures used for crushing and ingesting food, and they could possibly hurt you. But it would happen only if you put your finger directly in their jaws, which at this point, is what you’re asking for it 😉 These structures are called mandibles and are located between the lobster’s heads and appendages.

lobster's mandible can hurt you
Lobster’s mandible

The mandible is capable of crushing the shells of lobsters’ food, so it could definitely cut some of your skin off. It happened to Alek Loudakis of Martin County during diving, where a lobster nipped off the tip of his finger.

Can lobsters sting you?

The next thing that could possibly be a danger for us and lobsters’ predators are stings. But can lobster sting at all?

Lobsters can sting, but only lobsters that are covered in spines, which are spiny lobster species. Clawed lobsters use their claws to protect themselves, but spiny lobsters lack claws. Instead, they developed a different defense mechanism which is spines.

These lobsters have very long, thick, spiny antennae and, as the name suggests, are covered in sharp spines. The spines are not venomous, so lobsters can’t inject the poison into your skin, but it can definitely cut your skin off if you try to grab them with your hands without protection.

lobsters can hurt you with their spines
Lobsters’ spines

These spines are located all over the spiny lobster’s body: antennae, the upper part of the carapace (shell), and the sides of the tail. These lobsters can hurt you with their spines, but it won’t be anything serious as they’re not venomous.

Are lobsters poisonous?

Lobsters aren’t venomous, and as I mentioned previously, their spines don’t carry venom. They also aren’t poisonous to their predators after they eat them. If you wonder why some people cook them alive, it’s because they have a naturally present bacteria in their flesh that thrives on the decaying body.

Do lobsters attack humans?

Lobsters don’t attack humans on purpose. They use their potentially dangerous parts, such as claws, mandibles, or spines, to protect themselves from predators or to catch prey. Humans are definitely not prey for lobsters.

Lobsters aren’t aggressive to humans, and if we get too close to them underwater, they’ll most likely hide in their shelters or swim away rapidly by using their flexible tails. Older species of lobsters might be braver and present their large claws instead of running, as they do with other predators.

These lobsters are more aggressive, and if we get too close to their claws, we might get a pinch. However, lobsters won’t run into us to attack us. They’ll only protect themselves if we try to harm them in their environment.

Are they any crustaceans that can hurt you more than a lobster?

Now you know that lobsters can’t hurt you as bad as you maybe imagined. But are there any closely related animals that are more powerful than lobsters? There are! It may be a surprise for you, but the animal that could easily break your finger with its claws is a crab.

The Coconut Crab is not a usual crab, but it’s a crab with the world’s strongest grip. One of the crabs that scientists conducted the research on weighed 4.67 pounds (2.11 kg). It and was able to squeeze a bite-force measuring device with a force of 1,765 Newtons (180 kilograms-force).

The strength of this animal corresponds with its size and weight. Therefore, if we imagine a human who has a proportional strength to this crab, a 143-pound (65 kg) person could grip with a force of 6 tons (53,378.66 Newtons)!

During the research, the coconut crab pinched the marine biologist Shin-ichiro Oka on his palm. Fortunately, it didn’t break his bones, but his hand was paralyzed until the animal let him go. Scientists say that the upper limit of this animal’s power is potentially crushing a bone, so I’d definitely watch out for this crab more than a lobster.

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