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How Often Do Hermit Crabs Eat?

Whether you have already purchased a hermit crab or two, or you are thinking about getting one there’s a lot to know about them. One very important piece of information you need to know is how often hermit crabs eat.

The simple answer is that when a hermit crab is hungry it will eat, but it can get much deeper than that.

Hermit crabs can also go a long time without food. It’s not always healthy to go without food for days, but sometimes these little crustaceans can get picky and refuse to eat. Let’s dive a bit deeper into how often hermit crabs need to eat.

Hermit Crabs Need Food Options Every Day

Hermit crab in its shell
Hermit crab in its shell

When you bring your hermit crab home, the first thing to do is properly set up the enclosure. Make sure you have the right substrate and plenty of it. Provide the right amount of heat, humidity, hiding places, and both freshwater and saltwater. 

We have plenty of articles that go into detail about the proper hermit crab setup.

Once you have a beautiful and functional “crabitat,” be sure to offer your crab some food. They are scavenging omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They eat dead and fresh fish, rotting wood, seaweed, vegetation, fruits, grains, and more. 

Some hermit crabs have been observed feeding on different types of feces. I’m assuming they don’t really have a gag reflex, because I’m struggling just writing that. 

Offer a Varied Diet 

As you can see, hermit crabs need a lot of different foods. They need sources of protein, vegetables, fruit, and grains to be healthy. 

It can be difficult to provide all these different options every single day, so you can change it up. One day give your hermit crab protein, the next day give them some leafy greens or tiny cut up pieces of vegetables. The next day drop in a slice of strawberry, mango, or coconut.

You can also feed your hermit crabs grains such as oats, rice, quinoa, wheat germ, and nuts and seeds.

Provide Food For Your Hermit Crabs Daily

Hermit Crab found crawling on rocks near beach
Hermit Crab found crawling on rocks near beach

Hermit crabs will generally eat when they are hungry, and like us, they need to eat on a daily basis. When you’re trying to observe their feeding habits, it can look like they aren’t eating at all which can be a cause for alarm.

These little crabs are naturally nocturnal or crepuscular—meaning they are more active during twilight and early dawn. Because of their night owl tendencies, you may not observe them actually feeding. 

To make sure they do eat and have enough food, place a small amount of food in the enclosure in the morning. When using wet or fresh protein foods, you need to replace them the next morning with new food. With grains, veggies, and fruits you can wait an extra day before replacing it.

Only Place a Small Amount

Hermit crabs are tiny, and their stomachs are even smaller. Even when they have a healthy appetite, it may appear that your hermit crab isn’t eating anything at all. 

Even an average sized hermit crab will eat less than a teaspoon per day. If you fill their food bowls, this tiny amount can be hard to notice. Try to only put a very small amount of food in the enclosure to help reduce waste.

Hermit crabs can be sneaky little buggers and make you think they aren’t eating when they really are. Next are a few behaviors to look out for.

Hermit Crabs May Store Food

Hermit crab found in Polynesia
Hermit crab found in Polynesia

In nature, hermit crabs know that there won’t always be food laying around to eat whenever they get hungry. They have figured out ways to store food for later. Some may even prefer slightly “aged” food, or decaying food.

Hermit crabs have a pouch in their abdomen where they can store food and water. This pouch is hidden by their shells so you won’t see it. 

It may appear that your hermit crab isn’t eating, when in fact they are. It’s just pulling reserves from inside their shell. 

Hermit crabs will also start storing food in this pouch when they are about to molt. When hermit crabs molt, they can stay hidden for over a month. They won’t leave their burrow, even for food or water, so they could be storing up in preparation. 

These quirky crustaceans have also been known to hide food around their enclosure. You’ll have to keep an eye, or a nose open to find their hiding places. If you start to smell something foul, look in their hides, around plants, or even under the substrate. 

This is a natural behavior and it could make it appear that your hermit crab isn’t eating.

Hermit Crabs Are Expert Foragers

Hermit crab found foraging
Hermit crab found foraging

Hermit crabs are natural foragers and scavengers. They can feed on tiny pieces of food that we can have a hard time seeing. 

Depending on what you have in your enclosure, your hermit crab may be foraging on items in the habitat. Do you have live plants in the enclosure, moss? They could be eating those items instead of the food you have so lovingly prepared. 

Hermit crabs will also dine on wood such as the popular cholla wood they love to climb on. They could also be munching on tiny crumbs of dropped food around the food dish or even small pieces of substrate. 

As long as your hermit crab is active, moving around, and climbing, and you’re providing them with a variety of food you don’t have anything to worry about. They are natural scavengers after all. 

Here’s A General Hermit Crab Feeding Schedule

Once you are more familiar with what your hermit crab likes to eat you can adjust this feeding schedule. The main takeaway is to feed your hermie a little bit every day. 

It can get a little involved in feeding hermit crabs different foods all the time, so prepping small meals may help to save time. Offer something a little different through the week so your hermit crab doesn’t get bored with the same stuff.

Generally, hermit crabs need a source of protein nearly every day. They need to be provided with veggies or leafy greens 5 to 6 days a week, with about a third to a half of that coming from seaweed or similar.

Fruits can be fed to hermit crabs too, but these need to be fed sparingly, as too much sugar can be detrimental to their health. You can feed them dried fruits but look for naturally dried fruits that don’t have all the added sugar and preservatives.

Nuts, grains, and other sources of healthy fats should be fed to your hermit crab about 2 to 3 times a week.

Hermit crabs love treats. You can spoil your little hermie once a week or every other week. Treats can include all natural peanut butter and jelly on a small cracker, salt, and butter free popcorn, baby food, or applesauce.

Hermit crab feeding schedule

Here is a general feeding schedule for your hermit crab. Your hermit crab may like or dislike some things so adjust it as you see fit.

Day 1:A small shrimp, and a few small pieces of chopped bell pepper.
Day 2:An unseasoned sardine, piece of carrot, and tomato, seaweed.
Day 3:A piece of boiled egg complete with shell. Leafy greens such as kale, seaweed, swiss chard, or spinach.
Day 4:A small piece of unseasoned chicken, with some grains, seeds, and/or nuts
Day 5:A few dried insects with seaweed, a piece of dried fruit or fresh, and some type of veggie.
Day 6:Unseasoned popcorn or another treat, seaweed, and a piece of cooked oyster.
Day 7:Walnuts, almonds, or other types of nuts, broccoli, commercial hermit crab food.

You also need to make sure you’re providing your hermit crab with plenty of calcium. While they can get this mineral from food sources, you will have to provide a calcium supplement. Cuttlebone, calcium power, or crushed oyster or egg shells can be utilized.


How long can hermit crabs go without food?

Hermit crabs can go days without food. Some may even go up to two weeks without food, but this isn’t healthy for them at all. If you suspect your hermit crab hasn’t eaten in 5 or more days, you may need to have it checked.

An exception to the rule is when your hermit crab is molting. Depending on the size of your crab, it can take up to two months to complete the molting process. During this time, it will remain buried in the substrate and not come up for food or water. 
They prepare for this by storing up food and water in the pouch we mentioned earlier. The hermit crab will also eat the discarded exoskeleton, so it’s not technically fasting for an entire month or two.

Hermit crabs can also be picky and refuse to eat for a while. Each hermit crab has its own personality and preferences when it comes to food, and it may be difficult to find things they like. Instead of trying to feed them hermit crab pellets every day, change it up so they get a variety and look forward to feeding times.

Why isn’t my hermit crab eating or drinking?

There could be a number of reasons why your hermit crab isn’t eating. They may be foraging on other things in the tank. It may be storing food up in preparation for molting, it may not like what has been offered, or it could be stressed out. 
Keep an eye on your hermit crab to see if you can figure out if it’s being picky, is storing food, or is munching on plants or stored food.

Did you clean the cage recently? Have you moved? Are there too many hermit crabs in the tank? All of these things could have stressed your hermit crab and it may refuse food for a few days.

If the hunger strike persists for several days despite your best efforts to provide a variety of food and a calm environment, you may need to get it checked out by a vet.


To wrap everything up, be sure to offer food to your hermit crab every day. You only have to supply a very small amount of food, but try to give them a variety so they don’t get bored and go on a hunger strike.

Feed them a source of protein nearly every day, veggies and leafy greens need to be fed to them almost as often as protein sources. Fruits and treats can be fed to them too, but sparingly. Healthy grains, nuts, and seeds should be offered more often than fruits.

Have fun with mealtime with your hermit crab. Feeding them properly, and having a good enclosure will ensure a long and happy life for your little “crabby.”

More hermit crab guides

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