FAQ Should I feed my hermit crab meat?

This is a compilation of forum posts from our old site.

Hermit crabs devouring a piece of unseasoned steak-photo courtesy of Stacy Griffith

FAQ Should I feed my hermit crabs meat?Hermit crabs devouring a piece of unseasoned steak-Photo credit Stacy Griffith

Rachelrmf posted:

I really was not all that big on the meat thing untill i came here and read that so many of you feed alot of meets. So i have alway put a little crab or shrimp or tuna in for them, but just every once in a while. So I was wondering is it on a daily basis that you should feed the meat. I have been changeing out fresh every day but can’t really tell about how much of it they are eating because they like to party at night so the food is everywhere. And also how often do you change out the differant meets. I don’t want to upset their little tummys and i know they are not close to dogs, but with dogs it can upset them a little. Well as far as that goes i guess how often do you change out all your foods. For me every week they get 3 sets of choices greens, leaves, seaweed and then on fruit mango, fresh coconut,bannana and on meat oyster,tuna,sardine treats are nuts and rosehipp. Should i be adding in better things for them? I do have to say they eat better than i do as far as fresh wholesome foods! Lol

SUE wrote:

rachelrmf, this is a good question, and one that is continually evolving based on what is observed and coming to be known in terms of what constitutes a robust diet for crabs. I am going to provide a breakdown of the specific food groups and what they are generally good for. Note that I will not have included ALL the foods in the category, and some categories overlap in one or 2 areas too. I try to offer daily a food from each group. I used to also leave home made dry kibble, worrying that they do not all eat at the same time or each thing (which they don’t) but I have a lot of crabs, and I have learned for my herds, the general proportions to offer. I have stopped leaving dry goods in at all times, and find that their foraging is better, and I waste less food! I still feed them dry goods daily, just minimally, and I usually sprinkle it on something that it will stick to like juicy fruit or vegetables. This is something I do because I have tested and offered these foods to the crabs in trial alone before!

Scientists evaluate that crabs use a natural selection imprint to prevent themselves from eating only one type of food source and thus harm themselves with not getting all food resources needed. They are also imprinted to ignore foods that have been smelled or eaten within a 9 -14 hour period of time, and one of the reasons relying on commercial foods is so dismally inadequate. They are not of the type of animal that relies only on one type ofr food like protein, or vegetation or calcium, etc. They must have a robust combination of all of them! Many of the foods must support their ability to metabolize to their environment (heat, humidity, light, growth) and they require a balance of ALL these types of food resources (some more at specific times like pre-molt, or PPS) in order to thrive.

These groups are classed in the following way and I will include why:

Protein and lipids: this is for energy to grow, forage, reduce competition or minimize cannibalism which more frequently occurs in captivity.

Foods in this class are:

meats, fish like silver sides, gold fish, clams, oyster; bone marrow (all meats including poultry), nut meats (many also fall in the omega fats group) salmon skin(including fat). Some vegetation like avocado meat (only) and bamboo stalks. (which also provide Cellulose, high energy)

Carotenoids, zeaxanthin and cellulose: these foods are necessary to assist the crabs metabolic functions of calcium absorption, processing of minerals, and coloring an individual crab has (darkens pigments). It also improves the crab’s immune system and nervous system functionality.

Foods in this class are:

tannin rich leaves, bark, cambium (inner branch skins) of plants like oak, maple, mangrove root, some perennial leaves; fresh fruits and vegetables that are orange, yellow, red or dark green (i.e. squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, natural corn, mango, blue berries, etc); many flower petals (dry), spinach, foliage, bean sprouts, seaweed: spirulina in particular, reptile moss (from pet store) etc.

Carbohydrates: these foods are quick energy foods that will help your crab by immediately fueling them but saving their “stored” reserves necessary for metabolic function.

Foods in this group include:

grapes, apple, honey, wheat germ, oatmeal, dried fruit (raisins mostly due to Copper sulfate use in others), banana, pineapple, citrus pulp (inner membrane of skin considered cellulose).

Omega fats: this food group is very important and is totally missed in commercial food formulations unless they are frozen foods! These are necessary for nervous system, exo-skeletal health and processing of carotenoids and other minerals. If there are deficiencies in this group it is typically exhibited by molt death (where you are uncertain), a mildewy appearance to the exoskeleton (they look dehydrated), and they are not active! Foods in this group overlap proteinous groups.

They include:

Coconut, walnut, whole fish (like a dead gold fish), fish skin, animal fat, olive oil, some grass seeds, seeds, peanut butter, etc. There is a mirade of these suitable, some found in fresh flower petals like roses, sunflower, crab apple blossom, etc. Take a look at the edible plants list at Epicurean Hermit!

Calcium: it is considered superior to provide more than one natural form of calcium! Calcium of course is used mainly for growth of the exoskeleton. Calcium without the support of light and carotenoids will not be properly absorbed by the crab! The acceptable form for supplementation outside of natural forms is Calcium carbonate powder ONLY! Foods containing calcium, will also provide some proteins as well.

Here are the main foods ideally used:

freeze dried brine shrimp, meal worms, blood worms, krill (fresh, frozen or freeze dried), shrimp tails, sand dollars, powdered oyster shell, cuttle bone, broccoli heads, milk.

extra resources relating to the above: http://www.epicurean-hermit.com and http://hermitcrabcuisine.com (this site lists specific food groups for each food)

Steam all shell fish prior to offering to hermit crabs!