The tomato is the fruit of the Solanum Lycopersicum plant, which is native to Mexico and Central and South America. There are many types of tomatoes, including cherry and grape tomatoes.
Some hermit crabs will gravitate toward tomatoes are part of their fresh fruit intake, but they’re not a dietary staple. Tomatoes contain limited nutrition for hermit crabs and are highly acidic.
The advantages of serving tomatoes to hermit crabs include high levels of vitamins A and C and beta-carotene, which helps hermit crabs retain their deep and vibrant skin coloring.
The main hazard of tomatoes is their acidic content. If you decide to feed tomatoes to your pet hermit crabs, limit this food to one small serving per week.
Do Hermit Crabs Like Tomatoes?
Despite being natural scavengers, hermit crabs can be fussy about what they eat. The only way to see if hermit crabs like tomatoes is to offer them.
If you cut open a tomato, your hermit crabs ate likelier to investigate it.
BMC Plant Biology explains that a tomato that retains its green leaves is likely to deter hermit crabs. The leaves of the Solanum Lycopersicum plant give tomatoes their distinct aroma, which deters many animals.
Are Tomatoes Good for Hermit Crabs?
To assess if you can feed hermit crabs tomatoes, let’s look at the nutritional content of a plum tomato:
Cherry and grape tomatoes are smaller, but the nutritional data will remain similar regarding intake. No single hermit crab will eat an entire tomato by itself.
Advantages of Feeding Tomatoes to Hermit Crabs
Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A, which positively impacts hermit crabs’ vision, and Vitamin C, which bolsters immunity. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that fights free radicals.
The rich and vibrant color of a tomato is provided by the pigment Beta-carotene, which helps a hermit crab retain its bright color and prevents the fading of the skin to an ashen gray.
Tomatoes comprise 95% water, so the fruit will hydrate hermit crabs.
Disadvantages of Feeding Tomatoes to Hermit Crabs
Tomatoes aren’t citrus fruit, but they have a low pH which means they’re highly acidic.
This will potentially deter hermit crabs from eating tomatoes due to their taste. As per Animal Behavior, low pH levels can leave hermit crabs confused and disoriented.
This acid is balanced by sugar, which makes tomatoes more palatable.
Tomatoes contain no calcium and little protein. This means that, unlike other sources of beta-carotene like carrots, they don’t offer essential nutrition to hermit crabs.
Tomatoes don’t last long in the heat and humidity of a hermit crab tank. If the fruit isn’t eaten quickly, which is always likely, it won’t take long to rot and spoil.
How To Feed Tomatoes To Hermit Crabs
Any attempt to feed tomatoes to hermit crabs should follow the same safety protocols associated with fresh fruits and vegetables. Shop organic where possible, and wash the tomato thoroughly in unchlorinated water before offering it to them.
As discussed, the leaves should also be removed from a tomato before attempting to feed hermit crabs, lest the scent deters them from investigating the food.
Never leave a whole tomato in the center of a cage and wait for your hermit crabs to eat it. The lack of scent offered by tomato means it’ll likely be ignored and rapidly start to wither.
Don’t cook tomatoes ahead of feeding them to hermit crabs because this process will kill off what little nutrition the fruit offers. Tomatoes should always be served raw.
Try slicing the tomato and leaving these pieces in a bowl or dish, so your hermit crabs can explore at will. If they show no interest in sliced tomato, remove it and chalk the feeding up as a failed experiment.
Cherry tomatoes are a more appropriate size for hermit crabs to sample.
Cut cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters, always being sure to lop off the leafy top. This will create a small morsel for hermit crabs to guide into their mouths and swallow without chewing.
Alternatively, you could try hand-feeding quarters of cherry tomato at a time. If hermit crabs enjoy the taste of tomatoes, one cherry tomato makes a good treat.
Grape tomatoes, as the name suggests, are the size and shape of grapes.
The same advice applies to grape tomatoes as cherry tomatoes, so they should still be halved or quartered to minimize choking risk and limit feeding to one grape tomato per week.
In theory, tinned tomatoes contain as much nutrition as fresh tomatoes. Always check the label of tinned tomatoes, ensuring the food hasn’t been treated with additives or preservatives.
The biggest concern surrounding tinned tomatoes and hermit crabs is the potential presence of BPA in the food. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a plastic used to create some brands of tinned tomato products.
As explained by Biology Letters, microplastics have a similar effect on hermit crabs to the acidity found in tomatoes – it can leave them incapable of choosing an appropriate shell if consumed to excess.
Most tinned goods that take steps to avoid BPA seeping into their products will proudly display this on the label. There is always a risk, so tinned tomatoes are best avoided.
Tomato seeds are tiny and have little taste, so there’s little point in sprinkling these over a hermit crab meal. Tomato seeds aren’t a foodstuff, so they should exclusively be used to grow plants.
The benefits we derive from drinking tomato juice don’t apply to hermit crabs. Also, tomato juice purchased from a store often has high sugar levels.
Tomato juice will also be sticky and quickly spoil in hot and humid conditions. Also, hermit crabs will knock or spill tomato juice onto the substrate or use it for bathing.
How Often Should Hermit Crabs Eat Tomatoes?
Once a week is more than enough for hermit crabs to eat tomatoes.
The nutritional value of tomatoes doesn’t justify offering them with greater frequency; any more than this is unhealthy due to the acidic nature of tomatoes.
If your hermit crabs show no interest in tomatoes, there are alternatives with more nutritional value while also appealing to the palate. Tomatoes are an optional addition, not an essential.