Hermits don’t eat rice in the wild, so it’s natural to think it’s unsuitable for their diet. Worse still, there are horror stories of birds exploding from eating rice. You may wonder if hermit crabs will suffer the same fate with their very un-mammal-like digestion.
Rice is safe for hermit crabs to eat. There are no toxic or dangerous properties in this grain, and it’s full of healthy nutrients. Feeding rice to hermit crabs will strengthen their muscles, exoskeleton and result in better molts. To gain the most nutrients, be sure to choose brown rice or rice that has not been milled and processed. Uncooked rice will contain the most vitamins and minerals, and hermits will enjoy the taste.
Rice comes in many forms, so you can keep your hermits from getting bored with their meals. White rice is less nutritious and more filling, but it cannot harm your pets unless that’s all it eats. Black rice will be a powerhouse of nutrients but could be more difficult to find. Overall, the best way to offer rice to hermit crabs is to take long-grain brown rice and hide it around their home. They’ll enjoy a tasty, healthy scavenger hunt.
Do Hermit Crabs Like Rice?
Hermit crabs love rice, as it’s the perfect shape, size, and texture for them to eat. As a plus, it’s packed with fiber to round out a hermit’s digestion. Aside from preference, you can also trust that rice is safe for a hermit crab since it:
- Is non-toxic
- Doesn’t contain any compounds that are harmful to a hermit crab
- Can be eaten in all its various colors and forms
Although some owners fear that the grain will expand inside their hermit crab, don’t worry. Unlike birds, a hermit’s digestion is well-suited to break down and process the rice. Most importantly, they’re not prone to gorging themselves like pigeons. Your hermit crab will crunch away piece by piece until it’s satisfied and come back for more later on.
Hermit crab owners routinely offer their pets rice as both enrichment and a balanced diet. These crustaceans love to forage and scavenge around for their food. Rice is easy to tuck away in hidden places throughout a crabitat, giving your most curious hermit crabs a reward. When they find it, they can enjoy the taste, the texture, and the gentle crunch.
Types of Rice For Hermit Crabs
Most of us are familiar with this popular grain as either brown rice or white rice. However, there are more than 40,000 varieties of rice all over the world. Each will have its own benefits (and disadvantages) for your hermit crab.
Of course, you don’t have to research an exhaustive list of options. You can look out for the 3 main categories of rice, and decide what type will best suit your hermies:
Indica vs. Japonica
When shopping for your hermit crab’s rice, you might notice that it’s categorized by the length of the grain. Namely, these categories are:
- Long grain rice, also known as indica
- Short grain rice, also known as japonica
This classing system exists because indica and japonica rice behave differently once cooked. Specifically, short-grain rice contains more starch, making it perfect for sushi and risotto. With that in mind, long-grain rice is obviously less sticky.
Your hermit crabs shouldn’t have a real preference. If you want to cook and disperse the rice throughout the tank, though, long-grain may be the best for scavenger hunts. The individual pieces will be more interesting to find.
Aside from that, there is no significant difference between short grain and long grain rice. If you see this label when shopping, feel free to ignore it. Your hermits will get similar nutrients, no matter your choice.
Wild Rice For Hermit Crabs
Rice comes with many different names, but all of them are a subspecies of Oryza sativa. This isalso known as Asian rice.
There is only one exception: wild rice. Technically speaking, wild rice is not rice. That’s because it belongs to a completely different species. It’s the seed of a type of marsh grass.
Nonetheless, wild rice can still be considered ‘rice’ in different ways. Although wild rice tastes a bit different from ‘true’ rice, it looks similar. It’s also cooked the same way. Just like ‘true’ rice, it is safe and healthy for your hermit crab.
In fact, it may even be healthier than other types of rice. Wild rice is a very nutrient-dense food with high levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s also low in calories. You can incorporate it into mealtimes without harm. Just make sure to serve it alongside other ingredients since it can’t fill a hermit crab’s nutritional needs on its own.
Brown vs. White Rice
Rice is mainly categorized into brown or white varieties. Unlike the japonica and indica classes, this difference actually matters in terms of nutrition.
Simply put, brown rice has not been processed. It still contains the husk, bran, and germ of the grain, making it a whole grain. If brown rice goes through a milling process, however, it becomes white rice.
Because of the processing, white rice has a longer shelf life. This also polishes the grain, making it look more aesthetically pleasing than brown rice. As a trade-off, the milling process removes many of the nutrients. White rice often has nutrients added back in to make up for the lost vitamins and minerals, but brown rice will always be more nutritious.
Obviously, brown rice is the healthier choice. Indeed, many owners only provide brown rice to their pets and avoid white rice at all costs. Since the white variety contains a high level of calories relative to its nutrients, it’s often referred to as ‘empty calories.’
Black rice refers to different subspecies of rice. In ancient China, this kind was referred to as ‘forbidden rice’ because only those in the upper class were allowed to eat it. In the present day, this rice is sought after due to its taste and high levels of nutrients.
As the name implies, black rice has a deep black exterior. When cooked, it turns a dark purple. This color is a clue about the nutrients that are found inside. Specifically, the dark purple pigment comes from anthocyanins, a type of compound with antioxidant effects.
In fact, according to Food and Function, the outer layer of black rice contains some of the highest levels of anthocyanins found in any food. The closest runner-ups are veggies or berries with high levels of nutrients, like:
Rice Health Benefits
Rice is a staple food for many countries, and it’s not hard to see why. There are many different varieties to choose from, and many ways to cook it. Although hermit crabs rarely encounter this grain on the beaches they call home, it’s still a healthy food group. Adding it to mealtimes is smart because it’s:
High in Fiber
Rice has high levels of fiber, especially if you choose brown rice. In hermit crabs, this can aid their digestion, help them process other nutrients more effectively, and improve their appetite.
Hermits that are provided with rice once a week, or a couple of times a month, will enjoy a more balanced system. As a plus, it’s very filling, which can keep your hermits topped up for longer.
High In Vitamins And Minerals
Aside from fiber, this grain also contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals. For a hermit crab, the most important will be:
Selenium has many functions in the human body, including acting as an antioxidant, helping the thyroid produce hormones, and giving you a better immune system. For a hermit crab, the most crucial function will be helping it to build a stronger exoskeleton.
In fact, calcium is only one part of the building process, and hermit crabs rely heavily on selenium. According to Nutrients, selenium’s antioxidant properties may help reduce inflammation and help the body create more bone cells. For hermits, this ensures their molts are smoother, more productive, and result in a more durable exoskeleton.
Brown rice is a great source of magnesium. In the human body, it works to coagulate blood, create cells, and help muscles contract. In hermit crabs, the mineral helps to strengthen their immune system, their muscles, and, once again, their exoskeleton.
Magnesium has been linked to increased bone density. With a small dose of rice leading up to a molt, your hermit crab will have the nutrients it requires to grow thicker skin. This will help protect it against everyday hardships, as well as scuffles or falls. Resiliency is key for these little crustaceans.
The Best Rice For Hermit Crabs
Rice has many different varieties, and all of them have their own health benefits. If you can, it’s best to give your hermit crab brown rice. Other varieties contain more nutrients, but they tend to be harder to find. Brown rice, on the other hand, is accessible, nutritious, and super tasty.
Is White Rice Safe For Hermit Crabs?
Although brown rice is preferred, that doesn’t make white rice unsafe for hermit crabs. Hermies will still eat white rice, and it certainly won’t kill them. The milling process does not strip away all the nutrients, and it doesn’t introduce any harmful compounds.
Instead, white rice is high in carbohydrates and contains fewer nutrients. The only harm is that your crustaceans may fill up on white rice and decline other food. If this goes on long-term, they may become vitamin or mineral deficient, but it won’t happen overnight.
Of course, hermits benefit from a diet that includes a small portion of grain. If you can’t find any other types to offer the hermies, white rice will do in a pinch. Just be sure to match the rice with other healthy ingredients, like proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Uncooked Rice?
Hermit crabs can indeed eat rice straight from the bag, uncooked. In fact, it’s a better option than cooked rice. That’s because cooking removes some of the nutrients present in rice. The heat breaks it down and the water leeches out trace minerals. For many owners, grains like barley, quinoa, and rice are better served dry.
If you choose to cook the rice, however, that’s perfectly fine. This can even alleviate concerns about arsenic levels in rice. Cooking and washing have been shown to decrease the levels of arsenic present.
Rice is safe to offer a hermit crab. Just be sure to give it in moderation so that your hermies don’t refuse other food.