As a hermit crab owner, you may have heard that oranges are dangerous. After all, the leaves and bark of the orange tree are toxic to hermit crabs. Orange peels and citrus as a whole are used as insect repellents. That can lead you to believe that hermit crabs can’t eat oranges, but this isn’t the case.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are safe for hermit crabs to eat. The fruit is non-toxic, and the peels are rich in nutrients. Oranges are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. This will improve your hermit crabs’ digestion, energy levels, mobility, and the strength of their exoskeletons. The softer and mushier the orange is, the more your hermits will enjoy eating it.
Because hermit crabs are scavengers, they will prefer oranges that are beyond their sell-by date. As long as they are not moldy or rotten, you can clean out your kitchen by offering them this fruit. Wash off any pesticides, and consider breaking them into smaller pieces. The tropical fruit will fit in perfectly with your hermit crabs’ desire for variety.
Can You Feed Hermit Crabs Oranges?
Oranges are a good addition to your hermit crab’s diet. As tropical fruit, they can be found in many of the same regions that hermies call home. Wild hermit crabs are known to eat fruit that gathers along shorelines, fallen off trees. In fact, the world’s largest hermit crab, the coconut crab, earns its name from this very habit.
Of course, oranges don’t usually grow near beaches, and hermits don’t often wander into in-land orchards. That doesn’t stop them from being a valid food option, though.
Hermit crabs can smell great distances in humid weather and can be drawn to fruit that’s near their habitats. In the wild, if oranges are nearby, hermit crabs can easily find them, pick them apart, and digest them. Even if they’re a rare treat, they aren’t excluded from the menu.
This is because hermit crabs are omnivores. They can eat plant and animal matter and require both to live a healthy, balanced life. With that in mind, you can improve your hermit crab’s mood and activity levels by incorporating oranges into mealtimes.
Are Oranges Safe For Hermit Crabs?
Oranges are safe for hermit crabs, but some myths claim otherwise. In particular, one internet rumor says that citrus foods will poison hermit crabs. Supposedly, this is because:
- Citrus bark and leaves are toxic to hermit crabs.
- Citrus fruits are part of the evergreen family, which contains phenols that are dangerous to hermit crabs.
- Citrus peels contain natural insecticides, which can kill hermit crabs.
While the first claim is true, the second and third points are greatly exaggerated. Citrus bark and leaves are toxic and should not be offered to your crustaceans. However, the fruit is fine.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Oranges?
The orange itself does contain phenols, but only small amounts. It’s not enough to negatively affect your hermit crabs. It would need to eat several oranges at once, which is physically impossible.
At the most, if your hermit did choose to gorge itself, it would get indigestion long before it felt any harm from the phenol content. Luckily, hermit crabs do not overeat, as it’s not in their nature.
In fact, citrus fruits contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidants compared to other types of food. That makes them very healthy.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Orange Peels?
Citrus peel is a common DIY insect repellent, but it’s not an insecticide. It does not kill bugs, nor will it kill hermit crabs.
Bugs hate orange peels because of the limonene they contain. This compound emits a strong flavor and scent that insects naturally find distasteful. However, as scavengers, hermit crabs are evolutionarily designed to love the limonene. It’s what breaks down the orange and causes it to become mushy, wrinkly, and easier to consume.
Since hermit crabs are decomposers, they naturally enjoy the flavor and scent of food that’s aged. The older (and closer it is to fully decomposing), the better.
That doesn’t mean you should feed your hermit crabs rotting fruit. However, it does mean the crustaceans may purposefully choose oranges past their sell-by date over fresh ones.
That makes it great to offer your hermits oranges that are no longer appealing to you. The best time is when they’ve reached a point where they can only be juiced, and the texture is a bit icky. You can let your shell-clad pets dispose of the mushy but healthy fruit for you.
Do Hermit Crabs Like Oranges?
Hermit crabs are not picky eaters, but they do like variety in their diets. After all, scavenging across a beach doesn’t provide them with the same meal each time. Adding oranges to the mix is a great way to spice up their meals while also providing extra vitamins and minerals.
Hermit crabs will enjoy the flavor, smell, and texture of oranges. In fact, a soft peel may be their favorite part. You can’t ask your hermits’ opinion, but you’ll know they enjoy the snack when they:
- Rush forward to investigate the fruit after it’s placed in the crabitat
- Pick and prod at the orange
- Swarm it in an eager feeding frenzy
Hermit crabs navigate with their strong sense of smell. Because of this, they’re prone to reacting strongly to food that’s aromatic. The powerful smell of citrus is sure to get a reaction from your hermits. Their pinchers will then easily cut through the peel and inner pulp, especially if it’s slightly old.
Are Oranges Good For Hermit Crabs?
For hermit crabs and people alike, oranges are a great health boost. They can improve your hermit’s:
- Immune system
- Energy levels
That’s because they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. These include:
Folate is better known as vitamin B9 or folic acid. It plays a vital role in creating red blood cells, producing DNA, and keeping cells healthy.
In fact, alongside vitamin B12 and vitamin C, folate is necessary to create the proteins a body needs to survive. Hermit crabs require a decent amount of protein in their diet, so folate helps to better process this nutrient.
Even more importantly, this B vitamin works to strengthen a hermit crab’s exoskeleton. That’s because folate is a building block in healthy bone development, according to Nutrients. While hermits don’t have bones, their exoskeleton uses the same materials. By offering your hermits oranges, they can:
- Have more productive molts
- Grow stronger skins
- Better resist harm
Oranges are rich in vitamin C. In fact, there’s so much vitamin C in oranges that just one handles 116% of a person’s recommended daily intake. Just imagine how much a little slice can do for a palm-sized hermit crab.
This treat is capable of dramatically improving your hermit crab’s immune system. That’s very important since almost all pet hermit crabs are wild-caught. They are routinely exposed to new bacteria and pathogens, which puts them at risk of infecting your tank when they’re introduced. Your existing hermies may also get sick when in contact with new hermits.
By mixing some orange peels into the mealtimes, you can fortify your pets to better handle whatever comes. They can recover from illnesses faster or resist them altogether.
Potassium is found in high amounts within oranges. This mineral has many important roles, but the greatest is ensuring that muscles contract properly. This improves strength, agility and helps fight off mobility issues.
Hermit crabs rely on powerful muscles to use their legs, pinchers, and to successfully molt. By providing oranges to your pets, you can help them be healthier, more active, and live longer.
Aside from helping muscles contract, potassium also works to improve the nervous system. This can improve your hermit crabs’ reflexes, speed, and thinking power.
Hermits aren’t seen as particularly intelligent. However, they can still navigate basic obstacle courses and engage in their most interesting trait: shell-picking. With the right dose of potassium, your hermits will be even more interesting to watch play.
Oranges are rich in antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals and slow the effects of aging. This can help your pet crustaceans feel better, look better, and live longer.
In particular, oranges are rich in phenolic compounds, antioxidant polyphenol, and carotenoids. The phenols in oranges include hesperidin, which has been connected to many different health benefits, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In small amounts, it can improve your hermit’s blood and energy levels.
How To Feed Hermit Crabs Oranges
You can place a whole orange in the tank. The hermits will pick away at it over time and feed themselves for days.
With that said, this can be difficult for smaller hermits, and you don’t want the orange to rot. It may attract bacteria and mold over time, which are dangerous to hermits. Instead, the best way to offer this fruit is to:
Age The Orange
Larger hermits can easily tear through a whole orange, ripe or not. However, they will be most enticed by one that’s aged and full of limonene.
Smaller hermit crabs will struggle to eat the orange as quickly if it has a thick peel and may ignore the fruit until later. To avoid anyone going hungry, wait until the orange is a bit mushy.
Wash It Thoroughly
Washing should remove any pesticides that are coating the fruit. The peel is not dangerous itself, but it may be layered in insecticides that will have a damaging effect. Hot water and a sponge (without soap) should be all you need. You can also soak the orange in baking soda for a few minutes and then wash it afterward.
Peel The Orange
If you’re concerned, you can also peel the orange to get rid of insecticides. However, keep in mind that the bulk of the nutrients are contained in the peel. Your hermit crabs won’t enjoy the same amount of health benefits in this case.
The best oranges for a hermit crab will be ones freshly grown without pesticides. You can grow them yourself or buy them at farmer’s markets. These are more likely to ripen and then decay faster, which is good for hermit crabs.
You should only give hermit crabs an orange as a supplement to their diet, not their main course. The natural sugars, the high acid content, and the heavy dose of fiber can get overwhelming if it’s all the hermits eat. It may result in indigestion, which can escalate into other issues. Instead, give the hermits some peels, some slices, or a whole orange once every few weeks.