FAQ

The Crab Street Journal FAQs

FAQ Prawns posing possible disease threat?

FAQ Are prawns safe to feed to hermit crabs?

FAQ Are prawns safe to feed to hermit crabs?

This is a compilation of forum posts from our old site.
Troppo
Dec 13, 2006

Today I read an interesting article in a Queensland newspaper that crabbers(particularly Australian crabbers) who feed their crabs prawns, may like to read. Below is an excerpt.

Prawns posing disease threat.
The increased volume and decreased price of imported green prawns has further escalated the risk of spreading the diseases, white spot syndrome and taura syndrome to the state’s prawn stocks.

The Department of Fisheries and Primary Industries has initiated it’s own testing and sampling program as a measure to protect prawn stocks with traces of both the diseases being found in many test batches bought from supermarkets.

Below are two links for each of these diseases,

White Spot Syndrome

Viral Diseass Taura Syndrome

It shows in the white spot syndrome article that this disease can affect crustaceans such as crabs.
With the article on Taura syndrome,it doesn’t say whether this disease affects crustaceans,but the symptoms do appear similar(but perhaps not the same disease as the problem appeared after feeding oysters) to the symptoms some of my crabs had before and after death over a month ago.

Ladybug15057
Thank you for sharing this Troppo. Extremely interesting reading, and a link within the links you provided has a bit more detail about “Diseases of Crustaceans Listed by the OIE”

Diseases of Crustaceans

Vanessa
Prawns are crustaceans so I would say it is very likely it could affect hermit crabs. Most experts say that with the shell disease (or black spot) with crabs and lobsters that the cooked meat is ok for human consumption. The blurb above mentioned ‘green’ prawns which means uncooked or raw. Perhaps the best method is to cook the prawns rather than offer them raw?

Troppo
Ahhhh that’s great Vanessa, so there shouldn’t be any need to worry about that report,instead just cook the prawns and it should be ok?
With shell disease,that’s caused by bacteria which would be killed during cooking,but with white spot and taura syndrome which are both virus’s,would the virus’s be destroyed during cooking?

FAQ How can I get my hermit crab to eat out of my hand?

Originally written by Vanessa Pike-Russell

Vanessa Feeding Little Red Claw
Sometimes it takes a while to bond with your crab. they might not feed from your hand from the first time you try but if you persevere and are patient, it will happen. Gently hold the back of their shell with thumb and forefinger, and hold a piece of fruit (fresh or dried), nut (especially almond) bread, popcorn or cracker near the crab’s cheliped, or grasping claw, perhaps even brushing the food against it until your crab starts to become interested in the food and and they will responsively clutch at it and then want to taste it. You should then see your hermit crab happily breaking bits off the food and passing them to their mouth using ‘feeding hands’ known as maxillipeds, munching away.

Your hermit crab needs to feel completely at ease with you, and trust you implicitly. Slow, gentle movements and soft voice calming them as you coax them to eat works the best for me.

FAQ Salt Water

Ocean or Marine salt is required by hermit crabs

Ocean or Marine salt is required by hermit crabs

I hear a lot of discussion about salt and fresh water.

How do I safely get my salty water salty?

How necessecary is salty water to hermit crabs?

Also, I was hoping to get a sloping, deep reptile dish with good traction to let the hermit crabs bathe themselves instead of me misting them or taking them out of their cage to be bathed. Should that dish have salt or fresh water?

Salt water
Originally written by CrabbyJo

To get your salt water salty, the safest way is with an ocean salt mix you can purchase at your pet store. NEVER use table salt meant for humans. There are anticaking agents in them that can be dangerous for your crabs.

Pet stores may have some salt water mix for hermit crabs, do not purchase these salt waters or mixes. Use the salt used to make ocean salt water specifically for salt water fish tanks. There are a few brands you can choose from.

It is VERY important that you get a water dechlorinator, preferably one that removes chloramine, chlorine, and heavy metals if you are using tap water. If your water is fluoridated, it is highly recommended you use distilled water as there currently is no way to remove fluoride from water, and fluoride can be deadly to your hermit crabs.

If you do use distilled water, you will need the properly mixed ocean/sea mix to replace what the distilled water is lacking. Distilled water does not need a dechlorinator to be used as it has no elements or minerals within it.

As for hermit crabs needing saltwater, it’s very important. These crabs live near the ocean, and can adjust the salinity of their body themselves if they have the proper access to both fresh dechlorinated and ocean salt water. Ecquadorians and perlatus are more sensitive and need it more than clypeatus. Often you will see your crab, pre molt, sitting in the salt water dish filling his shell with water. He needs it to help him have a successful molt, as well as for his general all over health.

As for the bathing, I have a deep dish myself full of fresh dechlorinated water so my crabs can bathe themselves, and a slightly shallower salt water bowl so they can dip their shells in if they want to, although it’s not deep enough for them to “swim” in. Bathing practice of hermies is now in question except for in cases of a “need to” situation (such as reintroducing an isolated molter to the main tank, or possible mites or fungus), and many crabbers are forgoing this practice and allowing their hermies to bathe themselves in a large dish as you describe.

Should I bathe my hermit crab?

Written by Stacy Griffith

Well the answer to that depends on who you ask! This could be one of the most hotly debated topics in the crabbing community. I’m not going to give you a answer, but I will try to offer both sides of the argument and you can decide for yourself.

Camp One: Actively bathing their crabs by the flip and dunk method. This entails preparing a bowl of stress coat treated water and placing the crab upside down under water. The crab will, hopefully, pop out and right itself. Thus flushing out the shell of any matter. This is done on a weekly basis by most people who employ this method. The crab should NOT completely abandon its shell during its bath. Leaving its shell is a sign of stress. If one of your crabs exhibits this behaviour, I strongly suggest you discontinue bathing it in this manner.

Camp Two: Actively bathing their crabs by placing them in a shallow dish of water to wade around. Some use stress coat treated water.

Camp Three: Inactively bath their crabs by not really bathing them at all. Offering at all times shallow pools of fresh water and salt water so the crabs can wade in and bathe themselves when they choose to. No stress coat should be added to drinking water.

Pros of Camp One’s method:

Perlatus submerged by Kerie Campbell

Perlatus submerged by Kerie Campbell

  • The crab’s shell is kept clean of any fecal matter
  • The crab’s exoskeleton is kept supple by the stress coat
  • The crab’s seem to enjoy the bath
  • The crab’s are move active after a bath
  • A bath can help soften the exo prior to a molt
  • Requires no additional tank space

 

Con’s of Camp One’s method:

  • The flip and dunk is not natural and causes great stress in the crab
  • There is no evidence that stress coat is beneficial (or harmful for that matter)
  • The flurry of activity after a bath is really a sign of a panicked and stressed crab
  • Bathing too close to a molt can be hazardous
  • Disrupts the delicate balance maintained in the shell water by flushing it all out and replacing with unbalanced water

Pro’s of Camp Two’s method:

  • All the same as Camp One, minus the stress of the flip and dunk

Con’s of Camp Two’s method:

  • All the same as Camp One, being forced to wade in the water is still stressful

Pro’s of Camp Three’;s method:

  • This is the most natural approach to bathing
  • The crab can clean its shell as needed
  • The crab can maintain the balance of shell water

Con’s of Camp Three’s method:

  • No exposure to stress coat (again there is no current evidence about the harm or help of using stress coat

My personal opinion is that you should not forcibly bathe your hermit crabs or use stress coat. There is no evidence to prove that stresscoat is even beneficial.
If you have purchased new crabs, I suggest you give them ONE bath to make sure they are mite free before placing them in your main tank.

Photo credit: Kerie Campbell

Varieties of Household Mites

Booklice

FAQ Varities of household mite – Booklice

Originally written by Vanessa Pike-Russell-Updated by Stacy Griffith

Common Name/Scientific Name

Dust Mites-House Dust Mite Dermatophagoides sp.

Grain Mites-Grain Mite Acarus siro L

House Mouse Mite-Liponyssoides sanuineus (Hirst)

Follicle Mite-Demodex folliculorum (Simon)

Itch or Scabies Mite-Sarcoptes scabiei hominis (Hering)
Mold Mite-Tyrophagus putrescentiae (Schrank)

Dust Mites – House Dust Mite Dermatophagoides sp.

“Dust mites are microscopic, small enough to live inside the weave and fibers of your clothing, bedding carpet and such. They don’t actually bite they are waaay to small .. they actually live on the skins flakes we shed. When people have problems with dust mites it is because they are actually allergic to the proteins in their saliva and excrement! So there is precious little on a hermit crab to attract or sustain a dust mite.

Grain Mites – Grain Mite Acarus siro L.

“Stored grain is subject to insect infestation and deterioration from molds and bacteria. High grain temperatures and moisture, along with dockage and broken kernels, provide conditions that accelerate mold and insect development. Many grain insects are good fliers and move to newly stored grain from fields and from infested grain bins. Insects can reach a high population size in unchecked grain bins, in sub floors or aeration ducts in bins, in equipment used to move grain, or in discarded refuse grain. These areas must be kept free of insects to reduce migration to newly harvested grain.

Grain insects move within the grain mass at a rate that is determined by the and grain temperature. During the summer and fall, insect infestations are usually on the surface of the grain. In cold weather, insects congregate at the center and lower portions of the grain and may escape detection until high population numbers are reached.” (Vera Krischik, USDA FGIS and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies Wendell Burkholder, USDA ARS and the University of Wisconsin)

Grain Mite Infestation: Prevention and Control

This site has information about the Grain Mite, which feeds on food similar to that which we offer our hermit crabs i.e., Wheat Germ (FMR Treat), Soyabean Meal(FMR Food), Rolled Oats, etc.
“Mite populations can explode when they feed on wheat germ, yeast, cheese, powdered milk, flour, or grain. In finely ground commodities such as flour and powdered milk, infestations are confined to the surface layer. Whole or cracked grains and nuts may be infested throughout.” (Linda J. Mason and John Obermeyer, Department of Entomology

Grain and Mold Mites

These mites can be found in a wide variety of stored products and food and can cause mild dermatitis known as “grocer’s itch.” Heavy infestations have a sweet or minty odor. A coating of “mite dust,” molted skins of the mites, covers the infested grain or cheese. Sometimes the surface of infested materials appears to move due to large numbers of mites. These mites favor damp areas. They do not bite humans. (William F. Lyon W. Calvin Welbourn

Common Mite Species

Index of Mites for Identification
A list or index to many types of mites that are attracted to grain and will infest areas where foods like wheat germ, soybean meal, rice meal, flour, oats and cereals exist.

Are the mites/bugs in your tank harmful?

Not all bugs are lethal to your hermit crabs. Check out our guide to bugs in the crabitat before you panic.

TREATMENT FOR MITES

A crabarium that is infested with mites and other pests cause hermit crabs to become stressed, lose limbs and die. It is important that you do not use chemicals that could be harmful to hermit crabs in ridding their home and yours of pests.

Hermit crabs are very sensitive to the presence of chemicals and they may suffocate if pesticides are sprayed close by. Keep the tank covered and wherever possible, find a natural alternative in cleaning products.

If you DO have mites, this is one way that I have found to get rid of them:

The substrate and crabarium items boiled and dried, your tank cleaned out with vinegar paying special attention to the silicone inside, and give your hermit crabs a dechlorinated ocean/sea water bath until they are free of these pests. The mites should float to the surface during the baths. As Jenn notes, mites are often attracted to wood and plants so make sure you rid the crabarium of wood that attracts mites and other bugs until the crabitat is pest free.

You may need to use a magnifying glass to zoom in, make sure you have rid your tank of these pests, and keep a screen lid on your tank under your glass/Plexiglas lid to keep the flies, mites and bugs away from your crabs and their food. Always remove fresh fruits the morning after to keep your hermit crabs safe from infestation.

A crabarium that is infested with mites and other pests cause hermit crabs to become stressed,lose limbs and die. It is important that you do not use chemicals that could be harmful to hermit crabs in ridding their home and yours of pests. This includes any chemicals or formulas that are sold to kill mites due to hermit crabs belonging to the arthropod phylum.

Hermit crabs are very sensitive to the presence of chemicals and they may suffocate if pesticides are sprayed close by. Keep the tank covered and wherever possible, find a natural alternative in cleaning products.

Hermit Crabs are known to rarely mate in captivity, so there is an extremely slim chance of breeding your hermit crabs. Some hermit crab owners have been mistaking in thinking the eggs of a larvae fly were tiny hermit crab eggs. If you see anything other than hermit crabs in your tank, there is highly probable that it is a PEST and should be removed as soon as possible. If you see any sign of mites, eggs or other pest it is important that you remove it quickly.

The only way it could be hermit crab eggs is if you have received a hermit crab straight from the wild that is gravid, or laden with eggs. Hermit Crabs with eggs are NOT supposed to be harvested at all, so this is very rare. At present only two scientists (that I am aware of) have successfully raised hermit crabs from egg stage to Juvenile stage in a lab. It is a very difficult process and without the set-up, tools and skills it is very unlikely that it could be recreated in a home setting. But on extreme rare occasions when the crabber has had optimal tank conditions, a hermit crab has become laden with eggs. But unfortunately have not been able to raise the zoea through the metamorphosis stages.

Biological solution to mites

Let predatory mites get rid of your parasitic mites. Read about Hypoaspis Mites

A note from CLD on Mites and Lost Limbs:

****Note: Whereas during CrabLover Don’s time he had a wealth of information, through further research and experience it has some of the information has become outdated.
From: CRABLOVER DON Date: Fri Mar 17, 2000 12:20 pm
Subject: Clearing up some MYTHS…..MYTH #1…… DEATH SENTENCES

Okay, let’s do a little ‘BASIC’ hermie FACT application… starting with the biggest MYTH out there… the death sentence due to the loss of a claw (or even two)… I hope you won’t mention this to any of my guys… as they can prove you wrong…VERY QUICKLY!!

Some guys may be a little ‘challenged’ at first, but they soon adapt to the situation and do quite nicely until that missing appendage is regenerated!

Hermit Crabs CAN live quite well missing one or even both of their “claws’. Why do I know this? Because I have a dozen or more fellas with these ‘challenges’ LIVING among my two hundred plus crabs. The fact is these claws do have certain functions… the larger (left)’claw’ is used basically for defense and climbing, while the smaller (right) one is used for eating and climbing. At first i did ‘handfeed’ some of the guys missing both claws, but these guys are amazing in finding alternative ways to eat and drink… IF the crab IS HEALTHY otherwise they usually survive!

It is easy to pass death off on the fact that you are not sure what the *real* problem is! If a crab starts losing any appendage, there is usually a problem… in most cases it is because of a stress related factor. These reasons are usually not from ‘attacks’ as I hear so often, but because of under-lying problems such as bacterial growths ; poor control of temperature and humidity levels ; dehydration ; poor ‘housekeeping’ ; exposure to odors, housekeeping sprays, ‘fumes’; a molt gone bad…etc.

What is necessary, to prevent further problems/deaths, is to locate and DETERMINE what PROBLEM is causing and creating this stress. Ninety-nine percent of the time there is an underlying cause… At the first sign of a crab losing a leg or claw, IMMEDIATE attention should be paid to the situation and to be as prompt as possible in seeking EXPERT advice! Just use good ‘common sense’ and seek assistance BEFORE the situation gets out of hand! … Many deaths can be avoided, but only IF the underlying factors can be corrected and resolved. It is often better to correct the situation and get things ‘under control, before bringing any new little ones into a problem situation…

From some personal experiences, observations and a great deal of experience in trying to help others; but, more so from the bottom of my heart… take a few minutes and stop, reason and think! It really makes for much Happier Crabbing for all!

Happy Crabbing!
Don

P.S.: I urge each of you crabbers old or new to think about investing in a good crab care book… there are a few better than others, many are very ‘out of date’ but have some good information… One recently published one I highly recommend is:HERMIT CRABS: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual…a “Barron book”… written by Sue Fox. Both Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles offer a discount on online orders… in the store it costs around $6.95. Sue has some great information in there plus the pixs are fantastic!

(Cralover Don AKA Don Drenning) bear in mind most of these methods are no longer current practice.

The books mentioned above are also outdated and no longer practiced. Majority of the books sold on the market are outdated, and only provide very basic care information.

References:

William F. Lyon, W. Calvin Welbourn. Mites Annoying Humans
HYG-2101-95. URL : http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2101.html
Linda J. Mason and John Obermeyer, Department of Entomology.
URL: http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/GQ/GQ-13.html
Vera Krischik, USDA FGIS and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Wendell Burkholder, USDA ARS and the University of Wisconsin

URL: http://ipmworld.umn.edu/chapters/krischik/index.html
Insect Publications Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Home and Garden Insects
URL: http://agweb.okstate.edu/pearl/insects/home/

Breeding Hermit Crabs

Originally written by Vanessa Pike-Russell

It was always thought that hermit crabs would not breed in captivity. Now, it seems, some have successfully bred with suitable conditions. While we are still working out what they are, it is obvious to all that if the hermit crabs are given enough room to move about in; both a fresh water bowl and a salt water pond; a balanced diet including carrion-type foods high in protein and calcium; humidity and temperature in the ideal range; and enough shells for growing and fussy bodies. While we are not sure what makes some hermit crabs breed and others not, it is important that their home meets all their needs, and yields a better chance of survival.

While hermit crabs have successfully bred, it is much harder to successfully hatch and raise the land hermit crabs. Since the first stage of development of land hermit crabs is an aquatic one, the eggs will need to be released into, or placed in, an aquatic environment to simulate the time spent in intertidal pools as part of plankton.

Unless you have the time and ability to raise the zoea to juvenile (air-breathing) stages, there is little chance they will survive. At each stage of development within the aquatic stage, the zoea (free swimming larvae) need to be fed by hand and kept in conditions which may be difficult for most. However, if you are able to raise land hermit crabs to juvenile stage, there is a good chance that the health of these offspring will be optimal, depending on feeding and conditions.

Article on breeding captive hermit crabs by Stu Wools-Cobb who has successfully bred and raised land hermit crab within his home.

Mary Akers Captive Hermit Crab Breeding Project

Curlz Crabs Captive Breeding Project

Alaska Hermit Breeding Project

On Facebook: Sue Brown and Natalie Van Amstel both are captive breeding Coenobita variabilis. Sue thus far has been the most successful and has the oldest surviving captive raised C. variabilis as of 2018.

Tammy of Hermit Crab Patch also made attempts to raise zoea in the past:

https://www.hermitcrabpatch.com/Hermit-Crab-Life-Cycle-a/152.htm

If you know of someone else with an active breeding project please let us know so we can add them!

 

A hermit crab that is gravid (carrying eggs) will look like the drawing by Alcock, below. “A female crab attaches her eggs to the fine setae on her pleopods using a gluelike substance.” (Fox, S. 2000)

Helfman (1997a) described the copulatory behaviour of B. latro from observation of a single event. Both male and female crabs were in intermolt phase during copulation. The male approaches the female slowly, clasps the dorsal meri of the chelipeds, and quickly moves forward to turn the female onto her back. Abdomens are extended, the male deposits the spermataphore, and the pair disengages.

The copulatory behaviour of other coenobitids apparently lasts much longer than for Birgus. Hazlett(1966) and De Wilde (1973) depicted the migration and reproductive behaviours of Coenobita clypeatus, but no copulatory activity was recorded. Observations of mating of C. clypeatus in the field, confirmed by the presence of a spermataphore on the female, have been made (S. Gilchrist, unpub). Initiation begins by the male grasping the aperture of the female’s shell and moving her shell from side to side. A series of rocking and tapping motions either stimulates the female to extend from the shell, in which case mating proceeds ventral to ventral, or the female retracts father into the shell and the male releases the shell. Page and Willason (1982) noted copulatory behaviour in C. perlatus. Mating occurs during migration to the sea proceeding larval release. Mating is ventral to ventral with both crabs about three-quarters out of their shells. Males pass the spermataphore to the females using the modified pereiopods. Mating may occur before release of the developed egg mass.”

(Dunham, D. W., and S. L. Gilchrist. 1988. p. 119)

Ovigerous females may be taking shelter at other points along this beach showing a cryptic habit during daylight and active at night as C compressus, a common occurrence observed among ovigerous females of crustaceans; Particularly for C. scaevola and other coenobitids showed either daily or season migrations depending upon rainfall. Also, spawning females of C. clypeatus presented unusual pattern since they did not enter the water, but move toward the sea at low tide to drop or fling their eggs onto the wet rocks. (Shell utilization by the land hermit crab Coenobita scaevola from Wadi El-Gemal, Red Sea by Salam WS, Mantellato FL & Hanafy MH)

Here is a video of Stacy Griffith’s Coenobita clypeatus mating in August 2018:

Here is a video of Stacy Griffith’s Coenobita brevimanus mating in May 2018:

 

Here is a video compilation from a hermit crab owner whose crabs mated:

You can find more of her hermit crab videos on YouTube

References:

Brodie, R.J. 1998. Movements of the terrestrial hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus (Crustacea, Coenobitidae). Revista de Biologia Tropical 46 (Suppl. 4): 181–185.

DeWilde, P. A. W. J. 1973. On the ecology of Coenobita clypeatus in Curaçao. Stud. Fauna Curaçao Other Caribb. Isl.144:1–138.

Dunham, D. W., and S. L. Gilchrist. 1988. Behavior. Pp. 97-138 in Biology of the Land Crabs, W. W. Burggren and B. R. McMahon, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fletcher, W.J., Brown, I.W., Fielder, D.R., and Obed, A. 1991a.
Structure and dynamics of populations. Pp. 61–85 in: Brown, I.W.,
and Fielder, D.R. (eds), The coconut crab: aspects of Birgus latro
biology and ecology in Vanuatu. Canberra. Aciar Monographs 8.

Fletcher, W.J., Brown, I.W., Fielder, D.R., and Obed, A. 1991b. Moulting and growth characteristics. Pp. 35–60 in: Brown, I.W., and Fielder, D.R. (eds), The coconut crab: aspects of Birgus latro biology and ecology in Vanuatu. Canberra, Aciar Monographs 8.

Fox, S. Hermit Crabs: A Complete Owners Pet. Barron Books Pub.

Hazlett, B.A., 1966. Social behavior of the Paguridae and Diogenidae of Curaçao. Studies on the Fauna of Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands, 23: pp.1-143

Hazlett, B.A. 1981. The behavioral ecology of hermit crabs. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 12: 1–22.

<p”>Helfman, G. S. 1973. Ecology and Behaviour of the Coconut Crab, Birgus latro (L). Masters thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu.

Hicks, J., H. Rumpff, and H. Yorkston. 1990. Christmas Crabs., Golden Earth Design and Printing, Singapore.

Gray, H. S. 1995. Christmas Island Naturally., Scott Four Colour Print, Perth, Western Australia. Pp. 11–145.

Harvey, A. Text from a personal email to Vanessa Pike-Russell from Alan Harvey regarding determining the gender of a land hermit crab. Shared with permission. For more information about Alan Harvey and his research, please visit the link below
http://www.bio.gasou.edu/bio-home/harvey/research.html

Jones, S. and Morgan, G.J. (1994) A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Western Australian Museum. Chatswood, N.S.W. (Australia) : Reed Books, 1994. ISBN 0 7301 0403 6

Lowry, J.K. (1999 onwards). ‘Crustacea, the Higher Taxa: Description, Identification, and Information Retrieval.’ Version: 2 October 1999. http://crustacea.net/

Morgan, S. G., and J. H. Christy. 1995. Adaptive significance of the timing of larval release by crabs. Am. Nat.145:457–479.

[ISI]

Page, H.M., and Willason, 1982. Distribution Patterns of terrestrial hermit crabs at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands. Pacific Sci. 36:107-117

Vannini, M., and G. Chelazzi. 1981. Orientation of Coenobita rugosus (Crustacea: Anomura): A field study on Aldabra. Mar. Biol.64:135–140.

[ISI]

Vannini, M., and S. Cannicci. 1995. Homing behaviour and possible congitive maps in crustacean decapods. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol.193:67–91.

[ISI]

Wolcott, T. G. 1988. Ecology. Pp. 55-96 in: Biology of Land Crabs (W. Burggren and B. McMahon, Eds.), Cambridge University Press, New York.

Hermit Crab Food Ingredients

What's in your hermit crab food?

What’s in your hermit crab food?

Source: http://www.prestigepetproducts.com/WhatIsIt.htm

Alfalfa meal: is the aerial portion of the alfalfa plant, reasonably free of other crop plants, weeds and mold, which has been finely ground and dried by thermal means under controlled conditions other than sun curing. Alfalfa is an excellent source of phytochemicals and phytoestrogens and their antioxidant effect stimulates the immune system.

Amaranth: is a seed plant which is a good alternative source of carbohydrate energy. Amaranth is a valuable carbohydrate ingredient with a unique flavor that compliments the flavor of barley, oats and rye. It is also high in linoleic acids, which are good for skin and coat.

Chicken byproducts: consist of the rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as heads, feet, and viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Chicken byproducts are an inconsistent ingredient because of the multiple organs used, their constantly changing proportions and their questionable nutritional value. Chicken Byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than chicken meal.

Chicken byproduct meal: consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines — exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Chicken byproduct meal is an inconsistent ingredient because of the multiple organs used, their constantly changing proportions, and their questionable nutritional value. Chicken byproduct meal is much less expensive and less digestible than chicken meal.

Chicken Meal: is the dry rendered (cooked down) product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of chicken — exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, or entrails. Chicken meal is considered to be the single best source of protein in commercial pet foods.

Corn germ meal: is ground corn germ which consists of corn germ with other parts of the corn kernel from which part of the oil has been removed and is obtained from either a wet or dry milling manufacturing process of corn meal, corn grits, hominy feed, or other corn products. Although corn germ meal contains the 10 essential amino acids that pets require, it has lowered amounts of methionine, arginine and taurine. Pet food companies utilize lower quality protein sources (protein fillers) like corn germ meal that have a lower biological value (percentage of protein absorbed and retained) than protein derived from high quality animal sources.

Corn gluten feed: is that part of the commercial shelled corn that remains after the extraction of the larger portion of the starch, gluten, and germ by the processes employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup. Corn gluten feed is an inexpensive by-product of human food processing. It offers very little nutritional value and serves mainly to bind food together.

Corn gluten meal: is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.

Cornmeal: cornmeal is the entire corn kernel, finely ground. Corn products are commonly used in pet foods as a main protein source. Because corn products are lacking in certain amino acids such as methionine, arginine and taurine, they are not as nutritious as high quality meats.

Dehulled soybean meal: is the product obtained by grinding the flakes which remain after the removal of most of the oil and the outer covering of the soybean seed by a solvent or mechanical extraction process. Dehulled soybean meal is a poor quality protein filler. The ‘crude protein’ analysis on pet food labels is only a measurement of the amount of nitrogen in a food–not the quality of the protein. Because of this, pet food companies can use the cheaper by-products of human food production, such as soybean meal, to boost protein numbers. Meat is always the best source of quality protein. Meat protein is better absorbed and retained and is higher in essential amino acids like methionine, arginine, and taurine. Soybean meal has biologic value less than 50% of that of chicken meal.

Fish meal: is the clean, rendered (cooked down), dried ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil. Fish meal is made from unspecified types of fish.

Meat meal or meat & bone meal: is the rendered product from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Most people associate this ingredient with beef. The truth is that it can come from any mammal: pigs, goats, horses, rabbits, rendered animals from shelters, and dead animals found on roads. Meat meal can contain condemned parts and animals that are rejected for human consumption, including ‘4D’ animals: dead, diseased, dying, or disabled. It can include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue. This inexpensive ingredient found in many commercial pet foods cannot be considered part of a safe, healthy diet for pets.

Soy flour: is the finely powdered material resulting from the screened and graded product after removal of most of the oil from selected, sound, cleaned and dehulled soybeans by a mechanical or solvent extraction process. Whenever flour is part of an ingredient’s name, the grain has been processed and some (or all) of the nutritional value has been lost. Frequently these flour ingredients are simply the leftover dust from processing human food ingredients.

Soy protein concentrate is: the clean dehulled soybean seeds that have had most of the oil and water soluble non-protein constituents removed. Although soy protein concentrate contains the 10 essential amino acids that pets require, it has lowered amounts of methionine, arginine and taurine. Pet food companies utilize lower quality protein sources (protein fillers) like soy protein concentrate that have a lower biological value (percentage of protein absorbed and retained) than protein derived from high quality animal sources. Soybeans are often GMO (genetically modified organisms) and have been altered through laboratory processes. Soybeans have also been linked to allergic reactions in pets, causing skin irritation.

Soybean oil: is obtained by extracting oil from soybeans. Soybean oil is low among vegetable oils in linoleic acid.

Soybean meal: the product obtained by grinding the flakes which remain after removal of most of the oil from soybeans by a solvent or mechanical extraction process. Soybean meal is a poor quality protein filler. The “Crude Protein” analysis on pet food labels is only a measurement of the amount of nitrogen in a food — not the quality of the protein. (Because of this, pet food companies can use the cheaper by-products of human food production, such as soybean meal, to boost protein numbers.) Meat is always the best source of quality protein. Meat protein is better absorbed and retained and is higher in essential amino acids like methionine, arginine, and taurine. Soybean meal has a biologic value less than 50% of that of chicken meal.

Wheat Flour: consists principally of the soft, finely ground and bolted meal obtained from milling wheat (containing essentially the starch and gluten of the endosperm) together with fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ, and the offal from the tail of the mill. Whenever flour is part of an ingredient’s name, the grain has been processed and some (or all) of the nutritional value has been lost. Frequently these flour ingredients are simply the leftover dust from processing human food ingredients. In addition, wheat and wheat by-products can cause allergic reactions in some animals.

Harmful ingredients to avoid:
Menadione: A fungicide.
Copper sulfate: A pesticide.
Ferrous sulfate: Used in inks and tanning.
Propylene glycol: Liquid antifreeze.
High fructose corn syrup: Sugar.
Cobalt sulfate: A toxin.
Ethoxyquin: A pesticide.
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): An additive also found in embalming fluid, rubber and jet fuel.
Generic by-products: May contain any of the following: cancerous meat; animal carcasses with euthanasia fluids; animals wearing flea collars; diseased livestock rejected for human consumption; livestock poisoned by chemicals; plastic or styrofoam packaging