Although hermit crabs are natural scavengers, many human foods meet their nutritional needs. The good news is that oats are healthy for hermit crabs to eat.
Hermit crabs enjoy the taste of oats. Adding moisture and sweetness to oats, such as honey or fruit, makes them even more palatable.
Oats must be fed to hermit crabs in moderation, so holding back oats as a treat is recommended.
Can You Feed Hermit Crabs Oats?
Oats can be fed to hermit crabs. In fact, it is recommended. Hermit crabs really enjoy the taste of oats. While this is not a foodstuff encountered in the wild, it is a deeply satisfying meal for crustaceans.
Mix oatmeal with cuttlebone, sea salt, and a fish carcass for the ideal hermit crab meal. You do not need to take this step as hermit crabs will eat plain oats. This could include rolled oats, pre-packaged oatmeal, or oatcakes.
To make oats more appealing, mix them with something sweet. Frontiers in Chemistry explains that hermit crabs experience sweetness through scent. This makes anything that swells saccharine irresistible to a hermit crab.
Nutritional Value of Oats
This table looks at the nutritional value of 100g of rolled oats. If you purchase pre-packaged oatmeal from a supermarket, the results may differ. Always review packaging before feeding.
|Dietary fiber||10.1 g|
|Soluble fiber||4 g|
|Thiamine (Vitamin B1)||0.460 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.155 mg|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||1.125 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)||1.120 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg|
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||32 μg|
Oats have healthy components for hermit crabs. They contain calcium and protein, both of which are essential for a strong exoskeleton. Despite this, oats are low in calories and sugar.
Side Effects of Oats
There are no real adverse effects of eating oats. Even the fiber is good for crustaceans. It keeps digestion regular. The hermit crab may even consume its own waste for added goodness.
One note of caution is the fat content of oats. Oats contain more fat than many grains. This is one of the reasons hermit crabs love to eat them so much. Be mindful of the fat content in pre-packaged oats.
Even then, hermit crabs rarely eat more than their fill. In fact, fat is good for a hermit crab pre-molt. It enables the crustacean to store calories ahead of fasting while molting.
Feeding Oats to Hermit Crabs
When it comes to feeding oats to hermit crabs, you have several choices. The three main options will be:
- Dry, rolled oats
- Oatmeal cereal, mixed with milk and sweetener
Any of these options are fine – with appropriate caution and care. Remember, oats are not a part of a wild hermit crab’s diet. They should not be fed constantly.
All the same, most hermit crabs enjoy eating oats. If fed appropriately, they can be as healthy as they are delicious for your pet crustacean.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Rolled Oats?
Rolled oats are pure oats, which slightly different from an oatmeal mix. Rolled oats are most commonly used as horse feed. This means you’ll find them in any pet store that offers equine care.
Many hermit crabs love the taste of rolled oats. This makes them a great option for occasional feeding, especially as a treat. All the same, hermit crabs enjoy rolled oats even more with additions.
The first is moisture. Sprinkle a teaspoon of fresh water (never tap water) over the oats. This causes them to swell. As a result, they are more filling for the small body of a hermit crab. More importantly, this moisture also makes the oats easier to swallow and digest.
Hermit crabs also enjoy sweet tastes. You could mix your rolled oats with applesauce, baby food, or a similar flavor. The scent will appeal to a hermit crab, as will the taste. Go easy on this, though. Hermit crabs can have too much of a good thing.
You do not need to moisturize or mix rolled oats. You could try hand-feeding them dry to a hermit crab from a teaspoon. This will build trust. Most hermit crabs will prefer to feed at leisure from a bowl, though.
Rolled oats are a good food choice if you must leave your hermit crab overnight. A supply of dry oats will keep the hermit crab sustained and content. It will be bored with oats by the morning, though. Ask a friend or neighbor to offer alternative food if you are still away.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Oatmeal?
Oatmeal cereal can be a great food for hermit crabs, if served sparingly. Like any food, you should not offer oatmeal daily. In addition, there are certain caveats to this snack. All the same, many hermit crabs will be enchanted by oatmeal.
To provide oatmeal, pour it into a small bowl. Consider the size of a hermit crab. You do not need to provide a human-sized serving of this food. A handful of grains per crustacean is more than enough.
We also need to address any additions to oatmeal. Many humans add milk and sugar to make this ingredient more palatable. Common consensus dictates that sugar and lactose are lethal to hermit crabs.
In reality, small amounts of dairy and natural sugar are safe. We do mean small, here. You’ll also have to reduce oatmeal feedings to one a month. All the same, applying milk and honey to oatmeal will drive hermit crabs crazy.
The Journal of Chemical Ecology confirms that honey, in particular, is a favored scent for crustaceans. You could also supplement this with fresh berries. Hermit crabs will adore this meal.
As a result, consider what bowl you’re going to use. Once hermit crabs start eating oatmeal, they may grow excitable. This means you want a food dish that will not be knocked over. Spilled oatmeal will blend with substrate, which can become dangerous.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Oatcakes?
Oatcakes are, in theory, another food that would benefit hermit crabs. Oatcakes are typically much larger than the average hermit crab. This means they make a long-term, sustainable snack. They are also packed with the goodness of oats.
If you wish to offer oatcakes to hermit crabs, it is best to bake your own. Oatcakes will often be found in the health food aisle. However, even the healthiest of oatcakes contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
You can use oatmeal to bake oatcakes. By making your own, you can also control the ingredients. Use a pure honey source for sweetness. Alternatively, grind or blend fresh fruit or berries. This creates an appealing scent and taste for hermit crabs.
Once ready to serve, it is advisable to break the oatcake into small chunks. Let the hermit crabs explore and nibble on this. If the oatcake is well received, continue to offer as a treat on occasion.
Try to avoid leaving an entire oatcake in a hermit crab enclosure. These crustaceans typically only eat their fill. This means the oatcake will remain in site for days. The heat and humidity of the habitat can cause an oatcake to spoil, making it dangerous.
How Often Should Hermit Crabs Eat Oats?
Natural oats, unadorned by any kind of garnish or sweetness, can be fed more often. These oats still not be fed every day, though. Hermit crabs like a varied diet. If faced with the same snack daily they grow bored.
If you are adding anything to your oats, the servings need to be more sporadic. Hermit crabs like sweet foods but should not eat them regularly. Berries and honey are best held back as a treat. Offer oats combined with such ingredients twice weekly at most.
If offering a bowl of oatmeal with milk, pull back even further. Dairy must be offering as sparingly as possible. Once a month is probably the limit. Again, your hermit crab will love this meal. Dairy does not love hermit crabs in return, though.
The issue here, as with many animals, is lactose. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences confirms that wild hermit crabs do not encounter lactose. This makes it trickier to digest.
Anecdotal evidence claims that crustaceans enjoy small quantities of dairy. Science is yet to establish how much is safe, though. Err on the side of caution. Better yet, use oat milk. Continue to offer this sparingly, but it is theoretically safer – and tastier – than cow’s milk.
Hermit crabs can eat oats, and will enjoy the taste. In addition, if served appropriately and in moderation, it will be deemed healthy. Bringing oats into a hermit crab’s diet is a great way to treat your pets.