Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Joanne Harper
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are yellow weeds comprising leaves, a stalk, and a stem.
Can hermit crabs eat dandelions? They contain antioxidants, like beta-carotene, that strengthen the immune system and protect against cell damage from oxidative stress.
Dandelions contain vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, fiber, and protein.
The stem may taste too bitter for hermit crabs, but this weed isn’t toxic.
Are Dandelions Good for Hermit Crabs?
Dandelions have a long history of use in traditional and alternative human medicine, and many of the health benefits also apply to hermit crabs.
Advantages of Feeding Dandelions to Hermit Crabs
Agriculturists classify dandelions as a weed, but the plant also has many health benefits. Dandelions contain the following:
- Antioxidants (beta-carotene) bolster immunity and maintain healthy, vibrant skin.
- High levels of fiber soften and bulk up the stool, making the passage of waste easier.
- Plant proteins help hermit crabs grow healthily.
- Calcium builds a strong exoskeleton and aids with the molting process.
Dandelions contain vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Disadvantages of Giving Dandelions to Hermit Crabs
The only risk with feeding dandelions to hermit crabs is the potential presence of weedkillers. Don’t lose sight of dandelions are weeds, so any grown in public places may have been treated with herbicide.
So, grow dandelions in your yard or purchase dandelions from a health food store.
What Parts of The Dandelions Are Safe to Eat?
Every part of a dandelion is safe for a hermit crab if pesticides or herbicides haven’t been used. That doesn’t mean hermit crabs will eat all parts because some are bitter.
How To Offer Dandelions to Hermit Crabs
Always wash the dandelions (not in tap water), whether offering hermit crabs wild dandelions or purchasing the food from a health food store.
Weed Science confirms that weedkillers often control dandelion growth, so don’t take any chances. Dandelions don’t need to be fresh, but they must comply with safety protocols.
Once the dandelions are safe for consumption, they can be served raw and whole. Hermit crabs will explore and pick at the dandelions, shredding and consuming what captures their interest.
Dandelions are best used alongside other foods rather than as a meal alone. These weeds can stimulate the appetite of a hermit crab, so they’re an ideal way to encourage them to eat other nutritious foods.
The leaves of dandelions are by far the most nutritious part of this plant.
If you only feed a small component of dandelion to hermit crabs, make it the leaves because this is where the bulk of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are located.
Don’t be alarmed by the serrated appearance of dandelion leaves. This aesthetic led to the weed’s name – a colloquialism of “dent de lion,” French for “tooth of the lion.”
Dandelion leaves are soft and digestible, meaning they won’t harm hermit crabs in any way.
The stem of a dandelion is safe for hermit crabs to eat, but it may have limited appeal. The issue with the root is the taste, as it contains a bitter, milky substance released as a defense mechanism.
This substance isn’t toxic, nor is it a sap or nectar. It’s latex, which is a defense mechanism generated by dandelions. It’s not poisonous for hermit crabs to consume latex, but neither is it appetizing.
If hermit crabs can get past the taste of the stem, they’ll reap the rewards for eating it. According to the Review of Diabetic Studies, dandelion stems are an additional source of polyphenols.
Health food stores frequently sell dandelion root due to its long history as a medicinal aid.
When purchasing dandelion root, you’ll be offered powder or capsules. Hermit crabs don’t understand the concept of medication, so powder is always safer. This can be sprinkled over other traditional meals.
It may be safer to pluck the roots of a dandelion weed from the ground and grind them up yourself, as this ensures there will be no additives designed to appeal to the human palate.
When you encounter dandelions, their appearance may remind you of candy floss. This white covering is the seeds of the dandelion, and like every other part of the weed, these seeds are edible.
Don’t be alarmed if the seeds of a dandelion fall away between picking the weed and giving it to hermit crabs. These seeds are delicate, and blowing the tip of the plant can scatter them everywhere.
If the seeds remain in place, hermit crabs will have a source of plant protein. As discussed, protein is also abundant in dandelion leaves and stems.
You can offer hermit crabs dandelion tea as an alternative to dandelions. Crush dandelions, boil them in water, allow this concoction to cool, and leave it in the hermit crab enclosure.
Hermit crabs may bathe in the water, but this isn’t a concern. If a hermit crab drinks the tea, it’ll absorb the nutrients. However, the process of heating dandelion tea will kill some water-soluble vitamins.
How Often Can Hermit Crabs Eat Dandelions?
While hermit crabs won’t experience any ill effects from eating dandelions to excess, they’ll soon grow bored of eating the same food.
Consider dandelions an occasional treat, offering it 1-2 times weekly. This way, hermit crabs are likelier to consume these weeds and eat heartily, enjoying the many health benefits.
Dandelions are a nutritious dietary addition. Wild dandelions are abundant between May and October. However, you can freeze dandelions (once washed and dried) for consumption in the off-season.
This makes dandelions an ideal food for adding variety to the diet of hermit crabs.