In the wild, hermit crabs are not fussy eaters so they eat a wide variety of foods. As pets, hermit crabs will also eat a lot of things, including fruits, but that doesn't mean anything goes. Knowing what fruits a pet hermit crab should eat is important in helping it live as long as possible.
How Do Hermit Crabs Find Their Food?
Hermit crabs are able to find their food in two ways: by smelling the food and by seeing other hermit crabs eating. You can easily observe a hermit crab's sense of smell at home by placing one smelly food option and one not smelly option in it's home. Your hermit crab will most likely come out of its shell, wiggle its antennae, and then head straight to the smellier food item. This demonstrates how a hermit crab smells its food just like other animals.
Some people are surprised that hermit crabs can smell since a crab doesn't have a nose. Crabs instead have sensory receptors that are on the hairs of their antennae. When these antennae wiggle or wave around, the smell is drawn into these receptors allowing the hermit crab to smell the food.
What to Feed Hermit Crabs
Like humans, hermit crabs thrive on a varied diet but when feeding your hermit crab, focus on natural and healthy food options and eliminate processed foods from their diets. You can include vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, and fresh fruit in their daily diet since hermit crabs are omnivores so this often allows you to easily feed your hermit crab food straight from your refrigerator.
Hermit crabs will especially thrive when their diet includes foods containing calcium, carotene, and antioxidants. Formulated hermit crab food typically contains some of these things but carotene can also be found in brightly-colored vegetables like corn and carrots, both of which are healthy additions to a hermit crab's diet. An easy way to know if your hermit crab is deficient in carotene is to look at its color after molting. If it is deficient, it's color will fade from a bright reddish/orange color to a faded-out tan or gray after molting. Antioxidants are prevalent in many fruits and vegetables as well.
Fruits to Feed a Hermit Crab
Along with a quality formulated hermit crab diet, your hermit crab can and should eat, a variety of fruits. Safe fruits for your hermit crab to eat include:
- Coconut (fresh or sugar-free dried)
Offering Your Hermit Crab Food
The size of the food doesn't really matter for hermit crabs so do not feel obligated to cut up the food into bite-sized pieces. Your hermit crab will leisurely eat the food you have served and will take their own bites. Since hermit crabs are omnivores, they may even enjoy picking meat off the bone if you choose to offer some to your crabs. Just be sure that there is no butter or any other sauce on the meat, as this is not healthy for hermit crabs.
Food can be placed directly in the cage or in a flat bowl or plate with easy access for the hermit crab. Make sure any produce is washed and dried to remove any pesticides that might have been on the food prior to feeding.
Offering Your Hermit Crab Water
In addition to food, all hermit crabs need access to both fresh and saltwater. Hermit crabs need fresh water for drinking but most hermit crabs will also drink saltwater along with using it for bathing.
Two water bowls should be in your hermit crab's habitat at all times, one for fresh water and one for saltwater. Tap water should not be used as a source of water without treating it with a dechlorinating product. Most pet stores sell dechlorinating liquid drops which remove any harmful chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia from the tap water. Once these chemicals are removed from the water it is safe for the crabs. In order to make saltwater, special salts from the pet store can be purchased. Special water to salt ratios will be provided in order to create safe saltwater for your crabs to enjoy. Table salt should never be used to make saltwater.