Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Joanne Harper
Hermit crabs can eat any mushroom considered human-edible. Many hermit crabs enjoy the taste of mushrooms and will enjoy health benefits from occasional consumption.
Hermit crabs eat portobello, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. They’re a good source of antioxidants, protein, and vitamin D, essential for active and healthy crustaceans.
Only give hermit crabs mushrooms purchased from supermarkets, health food stores, or farm shops. Picking wild mushrooms is hazardous because you may inadvertently gather a toxic mushroom.
Every part of a mushroom is edible to hermit crabs, although they’ll likely only consume the cap.
The gills and stem of mushrooms can sometimes taste bitter or earthy, while the caps are meaty and savory, appealing to hermit crabs in terms of taste and texture.
Mushrooms don’t need to be peeled but should be washed. Heating mushrooms in a grill or microwave preserves the goodness within and releases a scent that will tempt hermit crabs into eating.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Mushrooms?
Hermit crabs can only be fed mushrooms considered safe for human consumption.
Portobello mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) are arguably the most common type of mushroom in human cuisine. The portobello mushroom is also commonly known as the brown mushroom.
This large, brown shape is the mushroom at full maturity. Young portobello mushrooms are white and much smaller, often called button mushrooms. Smaller brown mushrooms are called cremini mushrooms.
Hermit crabs can also consume shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes), oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and other edible fungi.
Hermit crabs aren’t guaranteed to enjoy the taste of mushrooms, but these varieties are non-toxic.
Are Mushrooms Healthy for Hermit Crabs?
Mushrooms offer a range of health benefits to hermit crabs. The nutritional value varies based on the variety. A half-cup of Portobello mushrooms has the following nutrients:
Mushrooms are high in antioxidants, like glutathione and ergothioneine. These will help hermit crabs maintain bright and vivid colors while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
Mushrooms also contain high amounts of vitamin D, especially shiitake mushrooms. Hermit crabs rely on vitamin D to absorb calcium, which works with protein to promote exoskeleton growth.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Wild Mushrooms?
It’s inadvisable to forage for wild mushrooms and feed these to your hermit crabs. Even common mushrooms like the portobello may have been treated with pesticides.
Over 10,000 different types of mushrooms grow worldwide, many of which are dangerous and not intended for consumption. Some toxic mushrooms include:
- Death Cap (Amanita phalloides). According to Food and Chemical Toxicology, death cap mushrooms are responsible for most global mushroom-related fatalities.
- Destroying Angel (Amanita ocreata.)
- Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria.)
- False Champignon (Clitocybe rivulosa.)
- Webcaps (Cortinarius rubellus.)
Identifying a toxic mushroom by sight can be challenging unless you’re a mycologist. Some poisonous fungi listed above look similar to a portobello mushroom to the untrained eye.
As a basic rule, avoid contact with mushrooms with red hues in the stalk or stem, a ring around the stem, or a bulbous base once pulled from the ground (volva), as these are frequently toxic.
Do Hermit Crabs Like the Taste of Mushrooms?
Chestnut mushrooms are likeliest to appeal to the palate of hermit crabs.
They offer an appealing savory flavor and will take some time to chew through, so pet hermit crabs will likely return for more after an initial taste.
Hermit crabs may also enjoy the taste of oyster mushrooms because their strong, meaty flavor is often likened to seafood. This may remind your pets of their native terrain, as the taste resembles seaweed, a favorite of many hermit crabs.
Button mushrooms are less likely to cause a feeding frenzy, as their taste is more earthy.
How To Give Mushrooms to Hermit Crabs
Only offer edible mushrooms used in human cuisine to hermit crabs.
Apply these additional precautions to minimize the risks:
- Chop the mushrooms into small bite-sized chunks.
- Don’t season the mushrooms with salt, pepper, or oil.
- Avoid peeling the mushrooms, as much of the goodness will be in the skin.
- Wash or wipe the mushrooms down.
Most importantly, remove uneaten mushrooms from the tank. The heat and humidity of a hermit crab enclosure can lead to the mushrooms spoiling within a few hours.
What Parts of A Mushroom Can Hermit Crabs Eat?
Mushrooms break down into the following parts:
- Cap. The top of a mushroom is home to most of the goodness and flavor. As discussed, you won’t need to peel the skin off the mushroom’s cap, but wash it and remove any traces of dirt.
- Gills. If you flip a mushroom cap upside down, you’ll spot a range of gills. These are safe to eat but can be bitter and unpalatable, especially in portobello mushrooms.
- Stem. If a mushroom cap is edible, so is the long stem. Some hermit crabs may not consider the stem as flavorful as the cap, which has a harsher, woodier flavor.
- Spores. You may observe tiny spores on a mushroom. As long as the mushroom is edible, the spores will be the same way. Your hermit crabs are unlikely to even notice them.
As mushrooms need to be chopped into small chunks before serving them to hermit crabs, removing any unappealing parts of the mushroom is easy.
If in doubt, carve out the gills and stem of the mushroom and serve the cap.
Cooked vs. Raw Mushrooms
While serving vegetables raw to preserve nutrients is usually advisable, cooking mushrooms for hermit crabs is considered safe.
Heating mushrooms makes the antioxidants more accessible while also killing any lingering toxins. However, frying or boiling mushrooms may cause minor damage to mushrooms.
The International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition considers microwaving or grilling mushrooms the best heating approach. Frying or boiling reduces the protein content.
When you grill mushrooms, do so without oil. Heat the mushrooms enough to release a scent that’ll tempt your pet hermit crabs, and leave them to cool slightly before serving.
Mushrooms are a good addition to a hermit crab’s diet, especially if they enjoy the taste. Like all foods, mushrooms should be offered sparingly and sporadically to avoid boredom.