Your pet hermit crab can live to the age of 25 with good care.


Hermit Crabs for PetsCredit: Bigstockphoto

Healthy pet hermit crabs are active and even have individual personalities. To help keep them active and acting healthy, you do need to know what hermit crabs eat and provide the proper diet.  By providing quality food, you can have thriving hermit crab pets for up to 25 years reports the Hermit Crab Association.

What do Hermit Crabs Eat in the Wild?

Several species of hermit crabs are found as pets including the Indonesian land hermit crab (Coenobita perlatus), the purple pincer (Coenobita clypeatus), and the Ecuadorian land hermit crab (Coenobita compressus). All are scavengers that eat dead and decaying animal and plant matter found along the shoreline. Therefore, the answer to what do hermit crabs eat is: anything edible. However, when caring for hermit crabs as pets, there are some special considerations as far as their diet goes.  

Commercially Prepared Food for Pet Hermit Crabs

Hermit crab food can be purchased at your local pet store. This food is made especially for hermit crabs to meet their nutrient needs. Some hermit crab owners prefer to feed the commercially prepared food exclusively, some like to mix it with fresh foods, and some owners prefer to feed fresh food exclusively. Your hermit crab pets will be healthy no matter what type you feed so you can select the food based on your lifestyle and preference. However, you may find that what hermit crabs eat becomes based on your pet’s personal preferences. It should be noted that the Hermit Crab Association recommends T-Rex Island Food above all other commercially prepared hermit crab foods.

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Feeding Fresh Food

Fresh foods are a simple way to feed your hermit crabs because you’ll never run out of what hermit crabs eat as long as you have fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains available for yourself.  Foods that are suitable for crabs include any types of fruits or vegetables, fresh or dried, any whole grain foods, and protein such as meats, fish, eggs, and shrimp as long as they are cooked. Adding crushed cuttlebone or calcium supplements to the fresh food will help keep your crabs’ exoskeleton strong and healthy.

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How Often to Feed Pet Hermit Crabs

In the wild, hermit crabs are foragers who will eat whatever they can find. To mimic this in captivity, make sure they always have some healthy food available in their habitat. To ensure that food is fresh and safe for your crabs to eat, check the status of their food at least twice a day and remove fresh food when it looks wilted and/or at the end of the day.

Maintaining Food and Water Dishes for Hermit Crabs as Pets

Hermit crab habitats need three clean dishes to keep the crabs happy and healthy. The first dish is the food dish. The second dish is the fresh water dish that contains regular tap water that has been conditioned. Tap water conditioner is available at your pet store with the fish supplies. Follow the directions on the label for mixing and let the treated water stand for 24 hours to make sure it is safe for your hermit crabs.

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The third dish contains salt water. Salt water is important for crab habitats because these animals normally live near the ocean. Make sure to use marine salt to create the salt water for your pets. Table salt contains iodine that is harmful to hermit crabs. Follow mixing directions provided on the marine salt to create the salt water and use treated fresh water when making the salt water.

It is important that your water dishes are not deep enough that any of your smaller crabs could drown. To minimize this risk you can put a sponge in the water dishes.