A balanced diet is essential to keeping your hermit crab healthy and happy. These cute crustaceans like variety and enjoy eating new food every day.
If you’re a first-time hermit crab owner, you might wonder what to feed your little buddy. You might also be confused if a particular type of fruit, veggie, or treat is safe for your pet.
What do hermit crabs eat, you ask? Well, that’s what we’ll discuss in this handy little guide.
Keep reading to learn important facts about your pet’s appetite, eating habits, favorite foods, and more!
Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers. They eat dead or decaying plant and animal matter.
These little critters consume different kinds of leafy green plants, wood, nuts, and grass from their surroundings. At the same time, they also eat worms, algae, plankton, fish, and most types of meat.
Hermit crabs can safely consume a wide range of human foods. They can thrive on a diet of fresh veggies from your kitchen table or fruit from your fridge.
Eggs, beef cuts, and chicken are also great additions to a pet hermit crab’s diet. To promote good health and longevity, see to it that your pet’s food contains calcium, carotene, and antioxidants.
Make brightly colored veggies and protein-rich meat a priority for their meals. Minimal amounts of human snacks like crackers, chips, and cereals are okay as long as they’re unseasoned and organic.
Let’s run through some common questions you might have when feeding hermit crabs with human food:
Yes! Hermit crabs are free to consume grapes, grape juice, and even homemade grape jam.
Sweet fruits like grapes are always extra-appealing to your little critter. As a bonus, grapes are good for your pet’s exoskeleton, immune system, and cell health.
Most grapes found in groceries are small and have no seeds or skin. Thus, you don’t need to do much to prepare them for your crab.
Hermit crabs can safely eat strawberries. They usually do so by directly biting into one, but cutting them up is also a good option.
Strawberry seeds cause no harm to your critter. You might want to remove the green and leafy tops, though, since they can contain traces of pesticides.
The vitamins, minerals, and proteins found in strawberries are ideal for your hermit crab’s diet. Beware, a lack of protein can lead to little to no growth in the size of your pet.
Apples are a healthy and flavorful food option for your pet. A general rule would be to choose apples that have a sweeter and stronger smell and taste.
Hermit crabs tend to like tasty varieties, such as Jazz and Fuji apples better than sour ones, like Granny Smith and Red Delicious. When it comes to nutrition, your crab’s exoskeleton needs the calcium and protein that apples provide.
It’s okay to feed apple skin and flesh to your pet but remove the core and seeds. Because of its sweetness, remember to serve this fruit in moderation.
Yup! Hermit crabs can eat oranges and other citrus fruits.
However, avoid giving them the leaves and bark of citrus trees. They’re highly toxic to your pet.
You also shouldn’t feed your pet some orange seeds. They contain an amount of amygdalin that’s harmless to humans, but poisonous to crabs.
As for watermelon, the answer is also yes! Since they’re so sweet and juicy, watermelons are a favorite among hermit crabs.
The pink and fleshy part of watermelon provides important nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium. It also contains beta-carotene, which keeps your pet’s shell healthy and lustrous.
The ideal serving size is about half a cup. When feeding your pet some watermelon, remove the toxic seeds and the hard rind beforehand.
You can safely add bananas to your hermit crab’s diet—in moderation, of course. Additionally, don’t forget to remove the peels!
Banana peels are too tough for your pet to eat. At worst, they can possibly cause digestive problems and choking.
Meanwhile, the soft flesh of a banana is rich in antioxidants, carbohydrates, and beta-carotene. This fruit also has a fat content that matches your crab’s nutritional requirements.
They certainly can! The ideal serving size is about two to three blueberries, once or twice a week.
Take a look at what blueberries can do for your hermit crab’s health:
- Lower the likelihood of developing heart problems
- Boost their immune system
- Promote a longer lifespan
- Improve brain function
- Increase energy levels
Both fresh and frozen blueberries are fine for hermit crabs. You can feed them whole, but you can also chop, smash, or skin them before serving.
Tomatoes are okay for hermit crabs to eat, but they don’t offer much nutritional value to your pet. When planning your crab’s diet, it’s best to prioritize more nutritious fruits like apples instead.
Additionally, tomatoes can be too acidic for hermit crabs’ digestive systems. That’s why it’s better to serve them as occasional treats rather than an everyday snack.
If you want to feed your crab some tomatoes, make sure to wash them first and cut them into small pieces. It’s also a good idea to mix tomatoes with a variety of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies.
Carrots are highly recommended for hermit crabs. The carotenoids found in these vegetables strengthen the crabs’ immunity and prolong their life span.
On top of that, carotenoids maintain your pet’s brightly colored exoskeleton as well.
To keep meals interesting, feed these veggies to your crab only one to two times a week. Remember to wash the carrot thoroughly before serving it to your pet in small pieces.
Celery is another vegetable that’s highly favored by hermit crabs. Your cute crustacean buddies love munching on celery leaves!
The stalks are also safe for them to eat. If you decide to feed these parts to your crab, de-string them first to make them softer.
Choose organic celery that’s grown in a pesticide-free environment. Beta carotene, Vitamin C, calcium, and protein are all abundant in this veggie.
Yes, hermit crabs can safely eat lettuce. However, it’s not the most popular item on their food list.
Iceberg lettuce has a bland taste and dull scent, which aren’t that interesting to your pet. Boston lettuce and Romaine lettuce have better chances of enticing hermit crabs.
When it comes to nutrients, Iceberg lettuce does contain calcium, but it doesn’t contain much nutrition compared to other lettuce types and leafy greens.
Hermit crabs can consume cheese and some other dairy products. However, such types of food are unnatural for them and aren’t part of their normal diet.
If you decide to give your pet some cheese, only provide a small amount every two to three months.
In addition to cheese, your crab might love to eat other salty and fatty snacks like pretzels and chips. All these unhealthy treats should be avoided in favor of fruits and veggies.
When it comes to food, hermit crabs aren’t that fussy about what they like and what they don’t. However, they do have a sweet tooth!
You can spoil your pet with the following sweet but healthy fruits:
As for veggies, hermit crabs love and enjoy munching on fresh carrots, spinach, cucumber, and other leafy greens. Your pet might also be into nuts, sugar-free cereal, crackers, and popcorn.
When giving treats, remember to exercise caution, and make sure that your crab maintains a balanced diet.
Most veggies are safe for hermit crabs, but onions and garlic are a big no-no. These foods are toxic to your pet.
The leaves and branches of citrus trees should also be avoided. They have natural insecticides that are harmful to your pet if consumed.
Additionally, iodized/table salt contains iodine, which is toxic to hermit crabs. Chocolate/cocoa is on the unsafe foods list for crabs too.
Lastly, be careful when feeding peanut butter or thick jams to your pets, because these foods can potentially clog their gills.
Yes, hermit crabs can eat fish food. Make sure to check the ingredients, though.
Fish food comes in many different formulations. You’ll want to feed your pet with high-quality fish food that meets their dietary requirements.
Hermit crab pellet food is also a good choice. Since these pets aren’t picky eaters, they’ll usually have an appetite for whatever fish flakes and food particles you serve them.
Shrimp is a common food option for hermit crabs. Both cooked and raw shrimp are okay for them, as long as no sauces, spices, or seasonings are involved.
When serving the shrimp, feel free to leave their shells on. However, chop them up into small pieces.
Shrimp contains calcium, protein, and a special pigment molecule called astaxanthin. This nutrient is beneficial to your crab’s exoskeleton and enhances its natural color.
Hermit crabs, especially marine species, are considered algae eaters. Terrestrial hermit crabs also consume algae, which provide the proteins vital for their diet.
To your pet, algae is an easy, abundant, and non-resistant meal. Hermit crabs view it as a reliable food source that doesn’t spoil quickly.
Not all algae are edible, though. Bubble, hair, and brown algae are among the safe types of algae for your pet to eat.
If it runs out of food, a hermit crab might resort to eating snails to survive. Still, snails aren’t a preferred food choice when crabs have other available options.
Some species of hermit crabs are more prone to eating snails than others. They’re also known for killing snails in order to take over their shells.
Yes, some hermit crabs will eat corals, but they’re neither a primary nor a preferred food source.
Hermit crabs consume bits and pieces of decaying plant or animal matter found on coral reefs. In doing so, they might end up nibbling on the corals themselves.
Generally, hermit crabs need to eat once a day. Their diets require animal and plant-based proteins and leafy vegetables daily.
As for fruits, they should be used as treats and given one to three times a week in small amounts. The same goes for healthy fat sources, such as nuts and coconut oil.
It’s also worth mentioning that hermit crabs are great at surviving on minimal food sources. They can last up to two weeks without eating and drinking.
Hermit crabs consume small amounts of food and prefer to dine at night. They eat slowly by taking little bites.
If you plan to feed your pet with commercial crab food, about 1 teaspoon per day will do. As for fruits, veggies, and other treats, limit your servings to about half a cup or several small pieces.
If you take a hermit crab from the beach to keep as a pet, you’ll need to nourish it with a variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, and meat.
Introduce new foods slowly to your crab’s diet. Gradually develop a meal plan that has both variety and adequate nutrition.
It might be helpful to cut up large fruits and veggies for easier eating. Watch out for specific types of fruit seeds, leaves, and branches, as they can be toxic to your newfound pet.
Whether on land or in the ocean, hermit crabs are never choosy about what they eat. They’ll go for bits and pieces of any plant and animal matter from their surroundings.
In their natural habitat, land hermit crabs possess a variety of food sources, such as rotting wood, grass, fallen fruit, and bits of dead animals.
Meanwhile, marine hermit crabs feed on algae, small fish, plankton, and any other floating food particles they can find.
What do hermit crabs eat? Food choice is an important aspect of caring for your crab. As a pet owner, it’s best to be aware of the safe and unsafe foods to feed your little buddy.
Knowing this critter’s favorite foods, average consumption, and eating pattern is beneficial as well. When feeding your crab, remember the appropriate serving size and nutritional value for its needs.
Lastly, don’t forget to add variety to your hermit crab’s diet. It’ll keep mealtimes fresh, exciting, and interesting for your pet!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.