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Can Hermit Crabs Eat Rice?

(Last Updated On: September 28, 2022)

Rice is arguably the easiest way to offer carbohydrates to hermit crabs. Many of us already use rice in our daily cooking, while most supermarkets and smaller food stores stock large bags of rice at low prices.

As natural scavengers, hermit crabs will never encounter rice while they seek food in the wild.

Hermit crabs may not be drawn to rice as it often lacks scent. According to the Proceedings of the Royal Society, hermit crabs identify food by aroma, especially in the vicinity of water.

These drawbacks can be overcome by serving meat, fruit, or vegetables alongside rice. Rice doesn’t contain enough calcium and protein to keep hermit crabs healthy, so these extras are essential.

Different Types of Rice for Hermit Crabs

With over 40,000 different types of rice worldwide, it would be impossible to list all the options available to hermit crabs. However, most varieties of rice can be divided into sub-categories.

One way to consider rice is by assessing whether the contents of a bag are long grain (indica) or short grain (japonica.) However, we’ll look at the five basic types of rice you’re likeliest to keep in your pantry for day-to-day cooking.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a purer form that hasn’t undergone a milling process, which means it contains more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than white rice.

If you want to introduce traditional rice to hermit crabs, brown rice is the best choice. It takes longer to cook and is higher in calories due to its density, but the nutritional value is a worthy trade-off.

White Rice

While most rice starts as brown rice, it is often put through a mill and converted to white rice. White rice lasts longer on the shelf than brown rice, making it a staple of most kitchens.

Unfortunately, the milling process can destroy some of the nutrients in brown rice, which means that white rice is less beneficial to hermit crabs.

For this reason, some owners avoid white rice, as the ratio of calories to nutrients is unfavorable.

Basmati or Jasmine Rice

We have grouped basmati and jasmine rice as they’re very similar. Both are often referred to as ‘aromatic rice’ and are staples of Asian cuisine. As these types of rice smell stronger than standard rice, they may attract the attention of hermit crabs.

Jasmine and basmati rice are comparatively interchangeable in terms of nutritional value. Jasmine rice is a slightly shorter grain, so it may be stickier and clump when offered to hermit crabs, but both are low in fat and provide much-needed energy.

Wild Rice

Wild rice isn’t rice but a form of grass native to North America. It is typically dark brown or black and has a distinct, nutty aroma and taste. This can make it a firm favorite of hermit crabs.

In some respects, wild rice is the best option to feed your hermit crabs. As a natural food, it provides more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals than other types of rice.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice, also known as risotto rice, is medium grain, offering the best of both worlds. It carries more moisture than long grain and isn’t as starch-heavy as short grain.

Arborio should be served while warm, as it’ll be fluffy and appealing to a hermit crab’s palate. As the rice starts to cool down, it clumps, making consumption more challenging.

is white rice safe for hermit crabs?

Is Rice Good for Hermit Crabs?

The main benefit of rice for hermit crabs is that it will provide your hermit crabs with carbohydrates. This means that your hermit crabs will be energetic and have the ability to explore their surroundings, burrow underground, play with toys, and climb the walls of the tank.

Additionally, rice contains selenium, a natural antioxidant, and magnesium, which bolsters a hermit crab’s exoskeleton. Remember, the purer the rice, the more nutrients it’ll contain.

The issue is that hermit crabs need substantial amounts of protein and calcium to flourish.

Serving rice alone is essentially empty calories, and while rice isn’t toxic or overly calorific, it may fill a hermit crab’s stomach at the expense of other, more nutritious foods.

How To Serve Rice To Hermit Crabs

Rice must always be served alongside another food rich in calcium and protein.

Consider adding eggs, chicken, fish, or fresh fruits and vegetables that offer such nutrition. These other foods should make up the bulk of the meal, with rice as an addition.

Cooked vs. Uncooked Rice

In many respects, uncooked rice is better for hermit crabs than boiled rice.

Some nutrients are destroyed whenever rice comes into contact with heat. Raw rice won’t clump or spoil in the heat of a hermit crab’s tank.

As raw rice is so tough, it’s a potential choking hazard. Short-grain rice may be safer as the grains are comparatively diminutive and easier for these toothless animals to swallow.

Seasoning Rice

As hermit crabs judge their foods by scent, adding some seasoning to rice can make it smell more palatable. However, never apply the following seasonings to rice as the ingredients are toxic:

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Avoid seasoning and sprinkle some fresh basil or parsley on the rice if in doubt.

How Much Rice Can Hermit Crabs Eat?

Hermit crabs rarely encounter rice in the wild, so it may take a while for them to come around to snacking on this food. If you can tempt your hermit crabs into eating rice, they’ll enjoy an energizing and low-calorie food that boosts energy.

Rice can be offered to hermit crabs 2-3 times a week, provided you keep portion sizes under control and change what you feed alongside it.

According to Animal Behavior, hermit crabs rarely eat the same food twice in 24 hours.

Rice isn’t an essential part of a hermit crab’s diet, but there are advantages to offering it to them. However, if your hermit crabs aren’t interested in rice, there are alternative foods.

If your hermit crabs enjoy rice, pair it with other essential foods to maximize the health benefits.