Hermit crabs will eat almost any greenery that you put in their tank. So, you may wonder if your hermies will enjoy eating dandelions. These small plants can be found in pet stores, health food stores, and even around the yard. Giving dandelions to your hermit crabs may be a good way to get rid of these weeds while also treating your pets.
Dandelions are a safe addition to your hermit crab’s diet. All parts of the dandelion are non-toxic, including the leaves, seeds, roots, and flowers. They offer many health benefits, such as high fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whether your hermit crabs are terrestrial or sea-based, they can consume dandelions.
You need to prepare the dandelions before giving them to your hermit crabs. They should be thoroughly washed to remove any dirt, pesticides, and chemicals. Even store-bought varieties can have additives that can be harmful. As long as the dandelions are organic and clean, they can be given dried or fresh.
Are Dandelions Safe for Hermit Crabs?
Dandelions contain no toxins or compounds that are poisonous when consumed by hermit crabs. In fact, dandelion has many nutritional benefits that can enhance and broaden a hermit crab’s diet.
The term dandelion can be used to refer to a large number of plants in the genus Taraxacum. Its two most common species are T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, both of which are safe to eat.
Can All Hermit Crabs Eat Dandelions?
Hermit crab species can be divided into land and sea-faring categories. Because of this, you may wonder if a sea-based hermit crab will have an interest in a plant that it would never encounter in the wild.
Hermit crabs of every kind can eat dandelions. This is because all hermies share the same basic needs and intolerances for food. These weeds will be risk-free to terrestrial and sea-based hermit crabs alike.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat All Parts of A Dandelion?
Many plants are only toxic in certain areas. For example, a flower may be edible, but not the plant’s leaves. Can your hermit crabs eat all parts of the dandelion, or should it avoid certain parts?
When you think of a dandelion, you may imagine a fluffy white bulb. This can break apart into lightweight pieces that are easily carried by the wind. Despite resembling a flower, this bulb is no such thing. Instead, it’s the seed head of a dandelion. As its name implies, it contains dandelion seeds.
This is the second stage of a dandelion’s life cycle after it has bloomed. The good news is, dandelion seeds are edible. In fact, they contain plant protein, which is an important factor in any hermit crab’s diet.
Dandelions can be identified by their flowers. Interestingly, this flower is composed of many smaller flowers. These are collectively called the flower head, with each flower being called a floret. Most are colored yellow or orange.
These small flowers are ideal for feeding your pet hermit crabs. The florets are already small, so they make for a bite-sized snack. Separating the florets is an easy task, as they are clean, individual flowers. They tend to come apart with a simple prod, making them easy to munch on for a hermit crab.
However, your hermie will likely find wilted and dried dandelions more appealing. These plants will be in bloom for 1-2 weeks. Then, they will dry out for 2 days. After this, the flower will mature in the white, fluffy seed head. This 2-day period between flower and seed head is the best time to feed the dandelion to your hermit crabs.
Dandelion leaves are long and deeply serrated. As a whole, its edges resemble sharp teeth. This is how the dandelion gets its name, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’ in French.
When sold commercially, dandelion leaves are offered in bunches. Commonly used in salads and shakes for people, they are packed with vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are the most nutritious part of the entire plant.
Though less commonly admired, a dandelion’s root is a valuable aspect of this plant. It has a long history in traditional medicine.
You can find dandelion root in supermarkets, although most are marketed as alternative medicines. They come in capsules or powdered forms. You can feed this to your hermit crab as long as there are no additives to the product. Alternatively, you can dig up the plant and feed the root to your hermit crabs, either raw or dried.
The root of the dandelion is high in inulin. This is a type of soluble fiber that leads to a healthier digestive system.
Are Dandelions Good For Hermit Crabs?
Dandelions are helpful for balancing and enhancing the diet of hermit crabs. These include:
High in Vitamins
Dandelions contain a high amount of vitamins, especially for their size. These include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
In hermit crabs, these vitamins can improve eye health, energy levels, and the strength of their exoskeleton.
High in Fiber
Dandelion root contains inulin, a type of soluble fiber believed to create a better digestive system. Aside from the calcium already present in dandelion, inulin may also be beneficial in promoting bone health. According to the Current Osteoporosis Report, a healthy gut and improved digestion can encourage healthy bones.
High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that fight the effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals can create a host of problems, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Inflammatory diseases
- Accelerated aging
Specifically, dandelions are high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene. This fights against cell damage and oxidative stress. Dandelions are also high in the antioxidant polyphenol. This can improve digestive issues, cardiovascular diseases, and even diabetes.
High in Minerals
Aside from vitamins, dandelions are heavy in minerals. These include:
Among these, calcium has the most positive effect on your hermit crabs. That’s because it aids in properly maintaining their shell and creating a well-developed exoskeleton.
For molting hermit crabs, that’s crucial. These animals will routinely shed their exoskeletons to begin again. To build from scratch, they’ll need a considerable amount of calcium. This is supported by a study published in Inheringia, Serie Zoologica. Here, it was shown that hermit crabs prefer a diet that is higher in calcium.
How To Prepare Dandelions for Hermit Crabs
Dandelions are a great food for your hermit cabs. But what’s the best way to prepare dandelions?
Dandelions do not need to be cooked, fried, or baked. Your hermit crabs will enjoy munching on them as is.
Whole Or in Pieces
All parts of the dandelion can be given to your hermit crabs whole. They will naturally pick at the food until little chunks rip free. Dandelions are soft, so this provides enrichment without exhausting your pets.
If you prefer, you can also tear the dandelion pieces into smaller chunks. This works best if your tank has many inhabitants. You can spread out the seeds, flowers, leaves, or roots across several areas. This forces your hermies to divide and conquer instead of greedily swarming one area and competing for the most food.
While no part of a dandelion is toxic, it may be exposed to pesticides. This is especially true if you pick them wild from a park or your own yard.
Before giving your hermit crabs a dandelion, be sure to wash it thoroughly. This will remove any chemicals or dirt that may hold bacteria. If your dandelions are bought commercially, it’s still worth cleaning them to be safe. Hermies are small, and it’ll take far less to harm their immune system than our own.
Hermies will enjoy dried dandelions as much as fresh ones. If you collect your dandelions wild, drying them can also ensure you have a steady supply year-round. The leaves, roots, and flowers of the plant can be dried, but there’s no need for the seeds.
Do Hermit Crabs Like Dandelions?
Hermit crabs aren’t picky eaters. The chances are, your hermies will be curious about the new food and have a bite.
Hermit crabs have a varied diet in the wild. As pets, they will appreciate changes to their meals and boosts to their nutrient intake. So, when it comes to dandelions, be sure that your hermies don’t get tired of them.
Dandelions are cheap, nutritious, and easy to find. You can pick them in the wild and get them at pet or health food stores. By adding them to your hermit crabs’ meal plan, they can enjoy a more varied, healthy diet.