Hermit crabs are one of the most unique pets out there. They are interesting and adorable crustaceans who live seashells to protect their fragile bodies. While setting up their environments are crucial to their development, like having the right substrate for burrowing, their diets are even more important.
It is true that tank environments should consist of sand for hiding and burrowing, especially during molting which is where they need new shells. However, the foods they eat keep them active and happy!
Whether someone is a new parent of a hermit crab or wants to change up their hermit crab’s diet, there are some great food suggestions out there. Before diving into what foods may be best for hermit crabs, it is important to know what they need to thrive.
Every animal has something they benefit from and having a well-balanced diet is important for all creatures. When it comes to the hermit crab, they are known as omnivores. This means they eat vegetations as well as animal matter.
With the knowledge of their preferences of vegetation or animal matter, what foods are acceptable? There are marketed hermit crab foods that can be found in some exotic pet stores, as well as online.
These foods are designed to help supplement a hermit crab’s diet along with access to fresh foods. However, it is often found that pre-packaged hermit crab foods contain preservatives, which can be harmful to hermit crabs.
Some brands do market products that are free from things like copper sulphate. An all-natural diet is heavily suggested to maintain a healthy hermit crab.
Hermit crabs have shown that they prefer a variety in their diets. Choosing the same fresh foods every day is not suggested. A hermit crab will appreciate a bit of change to their treats and keep things interesting for them!
Fresh foods can include fruits and veggies. Fresh foods can also be defined as dried shrimps from the pet store and even cooked seafood or meats (although only in moderation). These are meant to supplement and provide the variety that the hermit crabs need in their diets.
10 Best Foods For Hermit Crabs
A hermit crab’s diet should consist of a mixture of fresh foods and foods that include lots of calcium. Calcium is absolutely critical as it aids in the health of their exoskeleton. Hermit crabs outgrow their shells and need to shed their exoskeleton to move to new shells.
Foods rich in calcium keeps their exoskeletons at its best and provides a much better molting process for them.
Another important aspect of their diet should be the inclusion of carotene. Carotene helps provide some beautiful orange-reddish colouring to a hermit crabs body. Carotene can be found in some commercial foods as well as carrots and even cuttlebones are known to support carotene intake.
Below are the 10 best foods for hermit crabs! They are safe and delicious ways to make a hermit crab happy with their feeding situation. The important thing to remember is that they love the variety!
Cuttlebone – Internal Shells From A Cuttlefish
While some people assume this is an actual “bone“, that is not the case. Cuttlebones are the internal shells from cuttlefish. They are often oval-shaped. This is one of the best sources of calcium for a hermit crab. They are also consumed by birds and often found in a pet store in the bird section.
Commercial Foods – Preservative-Free Foods
This didn’t make the list because commercial foods are considered the best for hermit crabs. It made the list to show that there are some brands out there on the market dedicated to providing no preservatives or additives in their foods for hermit crabs.
When researching online, places like Zoo-Med and Hikari are some of the best rated when it comes to offering preservative-free foods. Zoo-Med specifically offers a dried fruit salad mix with cranberries, apples, and mangoes.
Hikari is well known for its fish food products as well and for hermit crabs, their dried brine shrimp are tasty!
Carrots – Provide Carotene
These tasty veggies will give hermit crabs a tasty treat as well as provide carotene. While there are other veggies that can be given, carrots specifically are one of the most favoured foods for a hermit crab.
Spinach – For Its Essential Leafy Greens
Another great acceptable veggie to add some variety to their diet! Spinach is a gateway into leafy greens, which are also an essential food to feed to a hermit crab.
Leafy Greens – Including Kale, Romaine Lettuce
This can include kale. Some people think “leafy greens” applies to iceberg lettuce. That simply is not the case. Iceberg lettuce is not nutritious for anyone really, as it contains next to nothing in terms of nutrients.
Leafy greens will be the darker green lettuces and this richly hued type of lettuce is packed full of taste and nutrients! The only lighter coloured green acceptable to feed a hermit crab is romaine lettuce.
Various Fruits – Mangoes, Strawberries, Apples
Fruits are a great way to add variety to a hermit crab’s diet. While fruits do have sugar content to them, when fed in moderation, they can be delicious food. Small chunks of mangoes, strawberries, pineapples, apples, grapes, and even banana can be enjoyed by a hermit crab.
While they can be served fresh and in small portions, these fruits can also be served freeze-dried. Freeze-drying keeps all a fruit’s nutrients intact while making a semi-soft, crunchy type of food.
Coral Sand – Is An Excellent Form Of Calcium
Often used as a tank substrate, coral sand can also be an excellent form of calcium intake for a hermit crab. While it might not be eaten by the hermit crab, some may take to this as a nibbling dinner!
A Calcium Vitamin Supplement Tablet
One of the most popular brands of this is Fluker’s and it is often found in the reptile section of a pet store or online. Hermit crabs can have up to 2 teaspoons of this in a shallow dish. Another great way to feed it to a hermit crab is by mixing it with other foods to incorporate it into their diets.
Freeze-Dried Shrimp Or Plankton
Considering they are omnivores, hermit crabs need more than fruit and veg in their diets. Freeze-dried shrimps, ocean plankton, and even krill are an excellent way to keep their palates happy.
Grass From Your Own Lawn
Grass is available everywhere and it is free! All grass should be washed off before feeding. Grass offers up a little bit of a different texture and taste to the diet!
These foods are not only the best but also the best ways to add variety. Hermit crabs may be small creatures, however, their tastebuds are big! While these foods are considered the best options, there are some things to offer as treats to a hermit crab.
These can include seaweed sheets and unsalted nuts. The nuts being unsalted is absolutely critical as hermit crabs should not be given too much salt or given too many salty foods.
The same goes for anything that is too sugary. While this may be tempting to try and feed a hermit crab, they will not benefit from this and is not healthy for them!
Another important to remember about feeding a hermit crab is that they are nocturnal creatures. This means they are more active during the night-time hours.
Ultimately, they should be fed at night. Fresh food sitting in the cage during the day no longer makes it “fresh“. Giving hermit crabs their food at night ensures that they will be most active and ready to eat it!
If its dried or freeze-dried foods, these are acceptable to leave in the cage during the day to give full access to something to munch on. But creating a feeding schedule will keep them on track too!
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Everyday?
While every living creature tends to eat every day, the same is not exactly true for hermit crabs. Hermit crabs may benefit from having a “feeding schedule” as in, being fed at night when they’re most active.
However, they don’t necessarily follow a guideline of eating. Some hermit crabs may eat every day while others may not eat for several days. There is also molting to consider as well, which is a long process for a hermit crab.
Molting is when a hermit crab sheds its exoskeleton and prepares to enter a new shell. This commonly results in the hermit crab burrowing or appearing “dead” as they lay on their backs.
During this process, it is thought that they may not eat for up to a month. However, giving the hermit crab their space to molt is critical. It is important for their health.
While they should not be disturbed and should be separated from other hermit crabs, they should still have access to some food. This can include freeze-dried foods like shrimps and small pieces of veggies.
Monitoring these foods placed in the environment is key. Removing the food that appears untouched is also important so that it doesn’t spoil. This could be the same day the food is put in there or even after a day or so if it is freeze-dried.
During molting or any given time, access to food should be available. However, shooting for evening or night feedings is considered best.
When it comes to how much to feed a hermit crab, it is suggested that they get 1-2 teaspoons of any given food. It is important to remember that they are not large creatures, so it is not necessary to overfeed or give large portions.
How Do You Make Homemade Hermit Crab Food?
While the 10 best foods for hermit crabs do explore the best options, is it possible to make homemade foods? Homemade foods are a quickly growing trend for animal lovers all over.
This is primarily due to most commercial foods containing unsavoury and unhealthy additives that may affect a pet. Hermit crabs are no exception to this option!
As the above list proved, a lot of foods that are great for hermit crabs already come in a natural format. Things like fresh veggies or fruits are ready to go and be cut into small portions for feeding.
These are easy to prepare and really require little to no prep. However, considering they also eat meats or seafood, are there ways to incorporate this into their diets that do not include freeze-dried marine life? The answer is yes!
Homemade hermit crab food can be certain meats and fish as well as other alternative foods. When feeding meats, only boil the meats with no seasonings and always allow to completely cool before feeding to a hermit crab.
Plain water will do the trick and a hermit crab will be super happy! Some meats that may be acceptable to feed are lean beef or chicken. Seafood options can include cooked salmon. Once again, small portions should be given.
Another great food option that is an easy homemade prep includes eggs. Hard-boiled is best as it can be cut into small chunks and doesn’t require any cooking sprays or oils to cook it in. It is a great source of protein as well.
Eggs are also a double-duty food for hermit crabs as they can eat the shells as well! The shells are said to contain calcium, which helps hermit crabs immensely.
Rinsing the shells is absolutely critical to ensure no raw product is left behind. Boiling the shells is the next step to making sure they are free of raw product. They should be dried and crushed up and served in a shallow bowl.
Homemade foods are an excellent way to prep food for hermit crabs and not have to rely on anything from the pet store. This not only saves money but is healthier in the long run!
Considering they need such small portions and most of their fresh food options are ones that humans already eat, it makes it so easy to get access to these foods!
If someone is cooking up dinner and wants to share with the hermit crab, any small portion can be pinched off before cooking in seasonings or sauces. This can include those leafy greens and even broccoli!
Because there is truly a lot of options of what to feed a hermit crab, it should be super easy to provide a variety that the crab will enjoy! Remember, they have palates that demand something a little different.
Don’t force-feed a hermit crab the same things every day as it can refuse food. This is often seen as a hermit crab as being a “picky eater” rather than just an animal who wants something different. Is that really so different from some of the palates of a human being?
Most humans like exploring food too!
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