When considering vegetables for hermit crabs, carrots should be at the top of the list. Carrots have various health benefits and offer an appealing taste, texture, and scent.
The main benefit of carrots for hermit crabs is their antioxidants and carotenoids. These will bolster hermit crabs’ health and ensure they retain a bright, vibrant skin color.
Are Carrots Good for Hermit Crabs?
The nutritional breakdown of one medium-sized carrot is as follows.
The presence of carotenoids alone is reason enough to introduce carrots to the diet of hermit crabs. However, eating carrots regularly offers far more health benefits than we realize.
Carrots are high in calcium, which is essential for a robust exoskeleton.
Be aware that excessive Vitamin A can cause toxicity (hypervitaminosis A) among invertebrates.
Why Do Hermit Crabs Need Carotenoids?
There are over 600 different types of carotenoids.
According to Marine Biology, the five most commonly found in hermit crabs are as follows:
Carrots contain carotenoids, which are plant pigments that give hermit crabs their lustrous skin color. They also provide various antioxidants that fight the effects of oxidative stress.
Carotenoids in the diet can boost immunity and extend life expectancy. Also, carotenoids ensure that hermit crabs retain a bright, lustrous-colored exoskeleton.
Hermit crabs that lack carotenoids will fade in hue to a dull gray, suggesting their diet is lacking. However, fading in color can also be attributed to an impending molt.
Are Carrots Bad for Hermit Crabs?
Carrots are high in sodium. If eaten excessively, carrots can dry out the skin. Thankfully, they also contain plenty of water, so the risk of dehydrated skin will be offset.
As mentioned, hermit crabs can experience toxicity caused by excess Vitamin A. One carotenoid in carrots is beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A upon digestion.
Avoid other Vitamin A-rich foods if you’re feeding carrots to hermit crabs.
What Types of Carrots are Best for Hermit Crabs?
Carrots come in various shapes and sizes. If you picture a carrot, you’ll likely imagine a Danvers carrot, which is marketed as a common or garden-variety carrot at grocery stores.
Raw Danvers carrots are safe for hermit crabs. If you grow carrots in your backyard, so much the better. Just wash them before feeding them to hermit crabs.
You can leave the leafy tops on carrots. Hermit crabs will enjoy the taste, and the greenery will provide a unique taste sensation. The skin of carrots is also okay to eat as long as it has been rinsed.
Hermit crabs don’t have teeth, so they’ll struggle to work through a carrot. You’ll need to chop carrots into bite-sized chunks to make consumption easier.
In terms of size, baby carrots are ideal for hermit crabs. They’re initially grown at full size but picked before their maturation. Then, they’re cut down further.
Baby carrots are also peeled, meaning a small amount of the nutrition found in the skin is shed. This isn’t problematic, as hermit crabs will benefit from eating baby carrots. They also taste and smell sweeter.
The potential problem with baby carrots is they’re often doused in chlorinated bleach to improve palatability, and chlorine is lethal to hermit crabs.
Chlorine traces should have evaporated before baby carrots are sold, but proceed cautiously.
Tinned carrots can be a time-saving way to bring these vegetables into a hermit crab’s diet. They won’t rot as quickly as raw carrots and will already be cut down to size as an ideal serving.
Be mindful of the ingredients used to preserve tinned vegetables, ensuring nothing in the can would harm hermit crabs. Heavy metals like mercury, copper, and zinc are of concern.
The Journal of Crustacean Biology explains how hermit crabs can tolerate a small amount of heavy metals in their diet. However, a large build-up can occur if you use tinned vegetables regularly.
Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried Carrots
Another way to keep a regular stock of carrots is to purchase them frozen or to get a dehydrator and create freeze-dried carrots. However, you’ll have to rehydrate the carrots in warm water before serving the vegetables to hermit crabs.
How to Feed Carrots to Hermit Crabs
As carrots are tough, you can’t leave a whole carrot in a hermit crab tank and leave them to chew through it. This will take too long and likely grow bored before the vegetable is eaten.
Take a full carrot and wash it thoroughly with purified, unchlorinated water. This also applies to organic carrots, as the soil can contain traces of fungi or bacteria – or even host tiny mites and other unwelcome guests to a hermit crab’s habitat.
Peeling is optional. A carrot that has been peeled will contain slightly less nutrition, but it’ll also smell more appealing to hermit crabs. Peeled carrots are softer, so they’ll find them easier to eat.
Chop carrots into small, bite-sized chunks. These could be thin, vertical slices or diced into cubes. The aim is to make the carrot chunks small enough for a hermit crab to guide into the mouth with the chelipeds, where it can be swallowed without chewing.
Are Raw or Cooked Carrots Better for Hermit Crabs?
Never cook carrots before serving them to hermit crabs. Whether baked or boiled, this will soften the vegetables, making them easier for hermit crabs to chew.
Unfortunately, the heating process will reduce the vitamins and minerals.
How Often Should Hermit Crabs Eat Carrots?
All vegetables must be fed to hermit crabs in moderation, as they grow bored of repeatedly eating the same food. Eating carrots once per week is recommended due to the risk of vitamin A toxicity.
Carrots help hermit crabs retain their aesthetic luster while bolstering immunity.