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What Do Hermit Crabs Eat?

After your trip to the beach, you came home with a little souvenir. You have yourself a little hermit crab to remind you of the waves, the salty air, and the warm sandy beaches. Now though you’re wondering to yourself, What do hermit crabs eat?

Hermit crabs are scavengers of the briny world. You may even think of them as the sanitation department of the ocean because they help to clean up any waste and even decaying animals. Hermit crabs in the wild will eat nearly anything.

Things that hermit crabs eat in the wild include; seaweed, brine shrimp, plankton, worms, algae, tiny bits of food that they come across, decaying wood, fungi, and any dropped or discarded people’s food. Sometimes it’s just easier to list what they don’t eat.

What To Feed Your Hermit Crab

At home, you can feed them a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and commercial hermit crab pellets. Hermit crabs also benefit from meat choices such as brine shrimp, dried mealworms, crickets, worms, and even fish flakes. Keep reading as we go into more detail about what’s good to feed your hermit crab and a few things you shouldn’t.

Hermit Crabs In The Wild

Tawny Hermit Crab on soft, fine sand at Similian Islands National Park, Thailand, Asia
Tawny Hermit Crab on soft, fine sand at Similian Islands National Park, Thailand, Asia. – Source

In their natural habitat hermit crabs help to clean up the environment.

They get rid of food particles that may have started rotting, or they will eat them before it begins the decay process. They really relish decaying fish and will strip the carcass of all meat.

Little bits of seaweed that get washed up on shore will get eaten by hermit crabs, as well as any food that gets dropped by humans. Though most of this food isn’t healthy for them because of all the preservatives and salt, they sure do love it.

We tend to enjoy our fast food too, though we know it’s not good for us. It’s nice to treat ourselves to a basket of fries, or some beer-battered chicken strips, Yum!

Hermit crabs are too small and slow to actively hunt prey, so they usually wait for deceased animals to wash ashore. They can also smell food because they have a very sensitive sense of smell and can smell good food from quite a distance away.

Hermit Crabs Benefit From Commercial Foods

Hermit crab sitting in loose dirt
Hermit crab sitting in loose dirt.

You can feed your hermit crab nearly any fruits and vegetables you would eat, but you want to watch out for pesticides and preservatives. Their bodies are so small that even tiny amounts that wouldn’t affect us at all could have devastating effects on your little “Hermie.”

Most hermit crabs have a bit of a sweet tooth and will eagerly devour fruits like apples, berries, bananas, coconut, and other high-sugar content fruits, but these should be added as treats and not fed every day.

The same goes for vegetables. It’s great to feed your hermit crabs dark leafy greens such as kale, green leaf lettuce, and greens such as mustard, and turnip greens. You’d get tired of eating the same thing day after day, and so do hermit crabs.

In the wild they never know what kind of food is going to be available, so offer them a variety. You should offer commercial, pelleted food a few times per week.

JurassiDiet – Hermit Crab Food is a wonderful choice for your hermit crab. It has plenty of foods that wild hermit crabs may come across every day. It’s a complete nutritional product that benefits their immune system and even offers probiotics.

This hermit crab food doesn’t have any corn products or soy, which can hinder calcium absorption. An added benefit is most hermit crabs will eat this food with no problem.

One downside to this particular food is it’s a bit more expensive than other products. Even though hermit crabs don’t eat much at all. Yes, you should feed them every day, but this small jar should last you a few weeks at a minimum.

Fluker’s Buffet Blend Diet – Food for Hermit Crabs 2.4 oz is another great choice for your hermit crab’s staple diet. You get more per container at a smaller price, but you still get complete nutrition.

Another good thing about this commercial food is there are dried shrimp and mealworms added. Your hermit crab gets a bit of variety in its food instead of plain ol’ pellets.

I’ve heard that some picky hermit crabs don’t care for the Fluker’s diet, or they aren’t interested in it. If you want to help entice your hermie to eat their “good for you” food, try adding a drop or two of honey to sweeten it up.

Vegetables You Can Feed Your Hermit Crab

Little hermit crab sitting on a round leaf
Little hermit crab sitting on a round leaf.

Omnivorous hermit crabs need a varied diet and adding vegetables to their dishes can help add beneficial and essential nutrients as well as make feeding time a little more interesting. Hermit crabs can eat nearly any kind of vegetable matter you find at the local grocery store so here we’ll list plenty of beneficial veggies, as well as which ones you should steer clear from.

Leafy greens and dark or brightly colored vegetables are good choices for your hermit crabs. Brightly colored vegetables such as carrots, kale, bell peppers, and broccoli are high in carotenes. Some hermit crabs when they eat these vegetables may turn a bright orange color.

This is natural and nothing you should worry about. They aren’t coming down with a strange disease or anything.

Trial and error to find out what they like and will eat.

Here’s a list of vegetables you can feed your hermit crab every few days:

  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Leafy lettuce (Iceberg contains very little nutrition and should be avoided)
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage (especially red cabbage)
  • Cilantro
  • Chard
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery leaves
  • Sprouts
  • Watercress
  • Squash
  • Zucchini

You can even feed your hermit crab potatoes and sweet potatoes on occasion. Just be sure to peel and cook them, then let them cool off completely. Don’t add any salt or seasonings.

White potatoes don’t have a lot of nutrition that benefits hermit crabs but it’s great as an occasional treat. They have a lot of starch that hermits don’t need much of. Once every two weeks is a good timeframe if you want to treat your little crustacean.

When feeding vegetables to your hermit crab be sure to wash them off or go for organic choices. Even tiny amounts of pesticides can harm them. When washing your fruits and veggies don’t use tap water.

Tap water can contain traces of heavy metals, chlorine, and other impurities that are harmful to the tiny hermit crabs. Instead distilled or purified water to wash the hermit crab foods.

Also, cut the vegetables into small pieces, and shred leafy vegetables. What I like to do for small animals is to use a grater. This works great for carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and other larger, not soft vegetables.

Fruits You Can Feed Your Hermit Crab

Hermit crab walking along a slice of watermelon
Hermit crab walking along a slice of watermelon.

Hermit crabs love nearly any kind of fruit.

In the wild, they rarely come across fruits, but when they’re available they will quickly devour them. In your home, you can surely feed your hermit fruits, but keep them at a minimum because too much sugar can have a negative impact on their health.

Fresh fruits are great for your hermit crab, or you can even use dried fruits. Though we recommend drying your own fruits if you’re going that route. Commercially dried fruits have added sugars and preservatives such as sulfides that aren’t good for your little pal.

Here’s a list of fruits you can feed your hermit:

  • Apples (remove the core and seeds)
  • Berries–raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc
  • Bananas
  • Mango
  • Papaya (remove the seeds, they may be edible for humans, but they are not good for hermit crabs)
  • Coconut (flakes are fine if you shred them yourself, there are too many preservatives in commercial shredded coconut)
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Melons
  • Apricots (no pits)
  • Cherries (no pits)
  • Peaches and nectarines (no pits)
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Mulberry (fruit and leaves)
  • Pears
  • Passionfruit

Citrus fruits may be okay for hermit crabs, but for me personally, I’d avoid them. Citrus fruits are incredibly acidic and since hermit crabs are rather sensitive to many chemicals, I’d just avoid risking it.

Some Hermit Crabs Can Be Picky

All pets have their own personalities, this even extends to hermit crabs. You may find that one hermit crab will eat nearly anything you put in the tank, but another is rather fussy about mealtime. 

Don’t worry if your hermie is a picky eater, just stick to foods it really likes as long as it’s a balanced diet. If your hermit only seems to like fruits and won’t eat its balanced hermit diet, just add some fruit juice, mash up some bananas, or add a tiny bit of honey to the commercial food.

You can also grind up some oatmeal, nuts, or seeds and mix that with the pellet food to make it more appetizing.

Hermit Crabs Like And Need Protein

Small hermit crab on an anemone
Small hermit crab on an anemone.

In the wild, hermit crabs often find plenty of protein. From brine shrimp, plankton, worms, and leftovers from birds and other fish, to carrion, they have access to meat and they love to eat it.

What can you feed your hermit crab to make sure it gets plenty of protein? You can feed them commercial pet foods such as dried brine shrimp, dried mealworms, dried crickets, and dehydrated fish.

You can even feed your hermit crabs fresh or cooked meat such as beef, fish, and seafood. They will love fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, or any fish you can find at your local fish market.

Some people like to cook an egg for their hermit crabs or cook a small amount of ground beef. Hermit crabs tend to love fresh meat. Just don’t season it. Salt and some seasonings can be bad for hermit crabs, especially if there is onion or garlic seasoning included.

Think of how they would find meat in the wild. It would likely be raw, and unseasoned. Here’s a list of meats you can feed your hermit crab:

  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Scallops
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Blood worms
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Cooked eggs
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Crabmeat

Most of these foods can be fed to your hermit crab raw, just be sure to remove any uneaten food and check the habitat for hoarded food. Hermit crabs will sometimes save food for later. But since you feed your hermit crab every day, that food can quickly go bad, mold, rot, and start stinking. 

It can also attract insects such as flies, ants, and fruit flies.

BNYEE 1.5 OZ Freeze Dried Bloodworms are great for hermit crabs. BNYEE freeze-dried bloodworms have no added preservatives or chemicals. If your hermit crab doesn’t care for these on their own, try adding some water to hydrate them a little bit. 

A Word On Live Insects

When feeding live insects, especially mealworms and crickets, make sure you squish their heads first. Hermit crabs are not hunters and aren’t fast enough to take on quick crickets or even squirmy mealworms. 

Crickets can be insidious when it comes to hermit crabs. They can burrow, feed on the same things hermit crabs eat, and multiply if left in there alive. They can also bite and hurt your hermit crab, especially after it molts.

You can feed live insects to your hermit crab, just be sure to incapacitate them first. If you can’t do that, you can feed them freeze-dried, or canned insects.

You Can Feed Your Hermit Crab Nuts And Grains

Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) on smooth wet rocks
Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) on smooth wet rocks.

Fresh, unsalted nuts and bulk, unprocessed grains are great for hermit crabs. Again, you’ll want to stay away from salted, sugar-coated, flavored, or honey-roasted nuts of any kind.

The same goes for grains. Plain oats and seeds are great for your hermit crab too. If you have access to a bulk grain section in your grocery store, you can get a tiny amount of oats, quinoa, rice, and barley for pennies.

If you have these on hand at home, just take a teaspoon and put it to the side for your hermit crab. You don’t even have to cook them, leave them raw and unseasoned and add them to the plate when you’re feeding him or her.

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and more are great choices to feed your hermit crab. Remove any shells as these can contain compounds that can harm your pet. Hermit crabs may try to eat anything in their enclosure, so don’t leave any nut shells laying around.

Add Some Seeds To Their Diet

Like nuts, seeds offer a variety in their diet as well as essential nutrients. Again, be sure the seeds are raw and unseasoned. 

You can feed them pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Chia seeds can be fed dry, or you can even plant them in the enclosure.

The high humidity that hermit crabs need is perfect for growing chia sprouts, especially if you have a moist substrate. Take the chia seeds and barely cover them with a thin layer of the substrate. Mist them and watch them grow.

Hermit crabs will eagerly munch on the chia greens and probably eat them all over time. Then you can just plant another small patch or row. Chia seeds and sprouts are packed with nutrients that are great for humans and hermits.

Other Items You Can Feed Your Hermit Crab

Little hermit crab walking along the palm of someone's hand
Little hermit crab walking along the palm of someone’s hand.

Yes, there’s still more you can feed your hermit crab. Now you don’t have to go crazy and feed them a seven-course meal every day, just a little bit of this, and a little bit of that at different times.

We like to eat a wide variety of foods, and so does your hermit crab. This includes dried beans and legumes. Hermit crabs may eat these, which are very healthy for them because they provide plenty of protein and minerals.

If dried beans and legumes aren’t particularly attractive to your hermit crab, try soaking them in water (not tap) overnight. This softens them a little bit, plus it may release a more attractive scent your hermit crab likes.

Hermit Crabs Need Calcium

Calcium helps hermit crabs grow strong shells. They need a lot of this mineral, especially before and after a molt. You can provide calcium in a number of ways.

Adding a powdered calcium supplement to your hermit crab’s fruits and vegetables, or powder-coating insects is a great way to add more of this mineral. You can also leave a cuttlebone in the tank and let them eat it as they need it.

You can find cuttlebone in the bird section of most pet stores. Cuttlebones come from squids and cuttlefish and it’s pure calcium that birds, hermit crabs, and other animals can munch on when they need it.

Eggshells Are A Great Calcium Supplement

Eggshells are great sources of calcium. You can boil them, let them dry, and crush them with a mortar and pestle, or run them through a coffee bean grinder. Then just sprinkle them over your hermit’s food.

Another way to offer eggshell calcium is to boil an egg. Cut it in half or quarters, with the shell on, and let your little hermie munch on the egg and the shell. Both of these items are great for them.

Feed Your Hermit Crab Seaweed

Seaweed is a great food to offer your hermit crab. Before you go out and buy sheets of seaweed though, be sure it’s unseasoned and contains no added salt. You want just plain seaweed.

In the wild, hermit crabs often feed on seaweed and algae, especially aquatic hermit crabs. Adding seaweed is a great way to make your hermit crab feel like it’s on a tropical beach.

JOR Seaweed Fish Super Snack is a great, pet-grade seaweed you can feed your hermit crabs.

Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Hermit Crab

Cute little hermit crab at the bottom of its sandy rocky aquarium
Cute little hermit crab at the bottom of its sandy rocky aquarium.

While hermit crabs can eat most kinds of vegetables with no ill effects, you should definitely avoid vegetables such as garlic, onions, and any plants of that family. This includes shallots, leeks, chives, and scallions. These items are toxic to hermit crabs.

Many herbs can be harmful to hermit crabs, especially catnip. While they can eat cilantro and parsley, most other herbs are not good for hermit crabs. With all the other options you can feed your hermit crabs, it’s best to steer clear of herbs.

Stay away from cocoa and chocolate as well. These are no good for hermit crabs. They’re great for us, but if you want to give your hermit some sweets, stick to fruits like bananas, mango, kiwi, pineapple, and the fruits we listed above.

Don’t let your hermit crab eat houseplants either. While there are some plants that are nontoxic and possibly even beneficial for your hermie to eat, many houseplants are toxic to most animals.

There are too many to list that are good or bad, so just stay away from feeding them any kind of houseplant.

Non-Food Items To Be Wary Of

Hermit crabs are very sensitive to metals. When choosing a food dish, stay away from metal or porous dishes. A smooth plastic or glass dish is best. 

Another thing to watch out for is painted shells. You see them everywhere hermit crabs are sold, especially in popular beach apparel stores. The hermit crab habitat is awash with brightly colored and decorated painted shells.

The paint can chip over time, and since hermit crabs try to eat nearly everything, they could try to eat these colorful chips. Paint is nothing but chemicals, and some paint may still contain lead. If your hermit crab accidentally or purposefully eats these chips, it could make them sick.

I know the painted shells are beautiful and they definitely give your pet a lot of character and bling, but they’re really not worth it.


Can I feed my hermit crab avocado?

A: While most pets such as cats, dogs, and most reptiles cannot have avocados because they are toxic to them, hermit crabs can indeed eat avocados. Just the soft fruit inside though. The skin, wood, pit, and leaves are all toxic to hermit crabs.

What foods are toxic to hermit crabs?

A: Anything from the allium family including garlic, and onions are toxic to hermit crabs. Citrus can also be problematic for hermit crabs. Preservatives such as Ethoxyquin, which is often added to fish foods, is poisonous to hermit crabs, so watch out for this preservative when feeding certain, commercial fish foods.

What should I feed my hermit crab daily?

A: You should feed your hermit crab a pellet food daily that’s supplemented with vegetables. Add or feed fruits every 3 to 4 days or as a treat.

Final Thoughts

Hermit crabs are omnivores that can eat most foods that we consume on a daily basis including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and proteins. Just be sure when you’re feeding your hermit crab to keep away from seasonings, preservatives, and processed foods.

You should feed your hermit crab quality, nutritionally balanced hermit crab food daily while adding some vegetables and fruits for variety. You can feed your hermit crab protein sources such as fish, freeze-dried shrimp and insects, cooked eggs, and raw meat sources. Just remove any uneaten food the next day so it doesn’t rot or mold.

If you have a comment, leave it below. We love hearing from our readers, so drop us a line. Until next time!

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