While hermit crabs are natural scavengers, they have particular needs. Oats (Avena sativa) can be a healthy and palatable food for hermit crabs.
Most hermit crabs enjoy the taste of oats and actively seek them out.
According to Frontiers in Chemistry, the scent of oats will be distinct enough to attract attention, although adding sweetness will make oats even more appealing.
Are Oats Good for Hermit Crabs?
If you introduce oats to a hermit crab’s diet, get the purest form of rolled oats. The nutritional value of one cup of rolled oats is as follows:
Some of these numbers may seem high, but a solitary hermit crab won’t eat anywhere close to a full cup of oats in a single serving.
Half a cup will be enough for many hermit crabs to share, and you’ll likely still have leftovers.
Advantages of Oats
Among the main health benefits of oats for hermit crabs are protein and calcium, as they’ll help hermit crabs grow and maintain a robust exoskeleton.
Rolled oats are also high in soluble fiber. This is not quite as important in hermit crabs as in mammalian pets, but it helps keep their digestion regular.
Hermit crabs draw on carbohydrates for energy, and oats release this energy steadily. Providing oats as hermit crabs awaken is a great way to start their day.
Disadvantages of Oats
As with all foods, various caveats must be considered when offering oats to hermit crabs.
While hermit crabs rarely eat more than their fill, some are more greedy than others. Oats benefit hermit crabs preparing to molt, providing essential fat reserves.
Another concern about oats is that they contain magnesium, which can be lethal to hermit crabs if consumed excessively. Thankfully, they won’t get enough magnesium from oats alone.
Serve pure rolled oats to hermit crabs. The naturally occurring sugars found in rolled oats are safe, but hermit crab health can suffer if they consume refined sugars or sweeteners.
How To Feed Oats To Hermit Crabs
Some oats are more suitable for hermit crabs than others.
Let’s explore the varied ways you could serve oats:
Rolled oats are the purest, typically untampered and unspoiled by additives, preservatives, and processed sugar, making them the safest choice for hermit crabs to consume.
Most hermit crabs like the taste of rolled oats, especially with additions. Moisten the rolled oats by adding a teaspoon of purified water, and consider adding a sweet taste to tempt them into eating.
This sweetness could be provided by stirring in a jam, applesauce, or a safe variety of honey. The Journal of Chemical Ecology confirms that a sweet scent makes food appealing to hermit crabs.
Most supermarkets stock instant oats, which can be prepared in minutes. These oats are usually prepared by adding boiling water and stirring until the oats are ready to be eaten.
It takes a lot of processing to prepare oats for easy serving. They’ll have started life as rolled oats before undergoing a range of activities at the hands of a manufacturer.
This means instant oats often contain additives and preservatives. Instant oats will contain sugar, colorings, and additives. To this end, avoid feeding instant oats to hermit crabs.
Many of us eat a bowl of oatmeal to start our day, which is a much healthier breakfast than sugar-laden cereals. Oatmeal often contains milk, which is problematic for hermit crabs.
Nobody can say with certainty whether hermit crabs can digest lactose, but they don’t encounter dairy in the wild. This suggests that you should avoid any foodstuff that contains milk.
Oatmeal can be a messy dish to serve to hermit crabs. Your pets will likely knock over the bowl, attempting to gain access to their meal, causing oatmeal to mix with the substrate.
Any milk found in oatmeal will quickly spoil in the heat, creating an unpleasant odor and bacterial hazard. For these reasons, oatmeal is best kept away from hermit crabs.
Oatcakes are a kind of pancake prepared from rolled oats or oatmeal.
Considered a delicacy in the UK, especially Scotland, oatcakes are a healthy alternative to cookies and can serve as a breakfast to be consumed on the move.
The size of an oatcake is likely to exceed that of a single hermit crab, so placing an oatcake in an enclosure will allow multiple hermit crabs to eat at once.
Oatcakes can be purchased from supermarkets or health food stores. Those sourced from the latter will contain less sugar and additives, although they may still be present to make the snack more palatable.
If you’re concerned about what is used to prepare oatcakes, you can bake them in the oven. You can ensure no processed sugar enters the recipe and add some berries.
How Often Can Hermit Crabs Eat Oats?
No food should be offered in excess, no matter how much hermit crabs enjoy it. According to Animal Behavior, hermit crabs seldom consume the same food twice in 24 hours.
Couple this need for unique taste sensations with the small but notable risks associated with oats, and you’ll understand why these foods shouldn’t be offered too often.
As a rule, feeding hermit crabs an oat-based dish once a week should keep them safe while also retaining an interest in the flavor and texture of oats.
Oats are a staple of many pantries, making a cost-effective hermit crab meal. In moderation, hermit crabs can enjoy the addition of oats to their meal rotation.