Wild hermit crabs sustain themselves through scavenging. According to the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, they relish a varied diet. Most hermit crabs prefer not to eat the same foods in 24 hours.
Hermit crabs will eat plant life, fruit, abandoned food, and insects. If you choose to supplement your hermit crab’s diet with bugs, then you should get pre-killed and frozen invertebrates.
Insects can provide various tastes, but most hermit crabs prefer to consume fruits or plants. Bugs are fine as a snack, but they should not be relied upon as a sole source of nourishment.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Insects?
Hermit crabs are omnivorous, so they will eat insects. A hermit crab may locate insects hiding under rocks or inside rotting wood. Equally, they will consume plant life, fruits, vegetables, and fecal matter.
The transition to captivity can be stressful for hermit crabs. This means that you should replicate the hermit crabs’ natural diet as much as possible. This could include the feeding of insects.
Certain criteria apply to feeding insects to hermit crabs. You may find countless bugs in a tank, and it is OK for hermit crabs to eat them. They are usually too small to sustain a hermit crab for long, though.
You could buy insects and bugs from a pet store. If so, purchase pre-killed and frozen bugs. Hermit crabs are not hunters and prefer to eat dead carcasses. Equally, they will not contain traces of toxic pesticides.
Insects in a Hermit Crab Tank
Let’s explore the most common bugs in a hermit crab tank. Most of them can be eaten safely, as long as your hermit crabs also feed on other food sources. In fact, some insects are beneficial. These include:
Booklice is the colloquial term for the Psocoptera or barkfly. This bug got its informal nickname through a taste for the paste that binds old books. Booklice are tiny and often considered a pest in the home. They multiply frequently and love the warmth and humidity of the hermit crabs’ enclosure.
In fact, the presence of booklice in an aquarium could be considered positive. These bugs love to eat fungi and mold. This may protect your hermit crabs from potential toxins. Booklice are not aggressive insects.
While scorpions are dangerous arachnids, the book scorpion is harmless to hermit crabs. This tiny bug is known as the pseudoscorpion as it has no tail.
Book scorpions are drawn to the warmth of the hermit crabs’ enclosure. They will hide and hibernate in cold climates. They’ll often conceal themselves in the sand or substrate.
Book scorpions can be an invaluable addition to a hermit crabs’ habitat. They feed on small pests, such as mites, that may irritate hermit crabs.
Centipedes and Millipedes
You’re most likely to invite centipedes and millipedes into an aquarium through mossy plants. They are so small that they will not hurt a hermit crab and may make a light snack.
If left alone, centipedes and millipedes will also rid an aquarium of decaying plant matter. Like many small bugs, this can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Hermit crabs eat fresh fruit but sometimes lose their appetite. This may attract fruit flies. Do not be surprised if you find these bugs in an aquarium.
Flies will not harm hermit crabs but can be a nuisance. They may also hatch maggots and can crawl into the shell of hermit crabs. While hermit crabs can and will eat maggots, they do not make a sanitary snack.
Fungus gnats are common in a hermit crab’s habitat. These tiny bugs do not attack crustaceans. That does not mean that gnats should be left alone as they will multiply quickly. As a result, every time you open the enclosure, they will escape and swarm.
While gnats eat rotting plant matter, other bugs also do so without causing a problem. Apply sticky tape to the top of your aquarium as this will trap the gnats without placing your hermit crabs at risk.
There are thousands of species of mite. It is not always possible to tell if these arachnids are harmful to hermit crabs. As a rule, mites should never attach themselves to hermit crabs. If you find mites in your hermit crab’s mouth, joints, or abdomen, they need to be removed.
Some mites will avoid hermit crabs and stick to food and substrate. This is less harmful but not beneficial. A mite infestation should be removed by cleaning and clearing out the habitat.
The best way to get rid of mites is a deep clean. Temporarily rehouse your hermit crab and empty the aquarium. Clean it from top to bottom and boil any decorations in ion water. Also, replace the substrate.
Hermit crabs closely resemble spiders. These arachnids will enjoy a hermit crab’s aquarium as they find the warmth comforting. There will also be plenty of hiding places for these nervous bugs.
Spiders, except venomous breeds, should not harm hermit crabs. Usually, spiders and hermit crabs will coexist. In fact, spiders may prey on other small bugs in the enclosure. This can be helpful for population control.
The only thing to be wary of with spiders is their predilection for spinning webs. Hermit crabs can become trapped in these and grow stressed.
Springtails are arguably the oldest insect species of all, dating a minimum of 400 million years. They are tiny, reaching just 1/8 of an inch. They are common guests in a hermit crab’s enclosure as they love humidity.
Springtails are helpful for cleaning a hermit crab’s cage. They eat waste, leftover food, and decaying plants.
Woodlice may enter an aquarium through wooden logs and similar hiding places. The warm and humid environment helps woodlice flourish.
Woodlice should be welcomed into a hermit crab’s habitat. They will not harm hermit crabs in any way and can provide sustenance. More importantly, woodlice devour decaying plants.
Many owners of exotic pets, such as lizards, invite woodlice into a terrarium. They are nature’s cleaners, ridding a habitat of old, unwanted plant life. If you find woodlice in your enclosure, leave them be.
What Kind of Insects Can Hermit Crabs Eat?
Most insects, arachnids, and crustaceans will prey upon each other. A hermit crabs’ habitat can become its own tiny ecosystem.
You may wish to offer your hermit crabs other bugs to eat, but this is matter of personal preference. Hermit crabs do not need insects to flourish. All the same, bugs and other invertebrates can offer variety in their diet.
With this in mind, you may wish to purchase insects for feeding. These can be obtained from an exotic pet store. Avoid feeding hermit crabs bugs from your yard as they may carry diseases.
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Mealworms?
Mealworms are the larval incarnation of the mealworm beetle. Mealworms are a common snack for many animals.
Hermit crabs will enjoy eating mealworms as they provide a balance of taste, protein, and calcium. Drop the mealworms into a bowl, whole or chopped.
As with all insects, mealworms are not a daily feed. They must also be thawed before serving. As a treat food 2-3 times a week, mealworms will provide a tasty meal for hermit crabs.
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Crickets?
Hermit crabs will enjoy crunching through the tough exoskeleton of crickets but must only be fed frozen and pre-killed crickets.
The main reason for this is the risk of toxicity. Crickets from a yard may have consumed pesticides or herbicides. These chemicals can kill a hermit crab. Shop-bought crickets will be safer, while freezing also kills toxins.
In addition, the rapid, skittish movements of crickets may frighten hermit crabs. The crickets may eat the food that’s intended for hermit crabs.
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Snails?
Obviously, snails are gastropods, not insects. This is why they can be appealing to hermit crabs. Hermit crabs are always on the lookout for potential new shells. They may covet that which covers a snail’s back.
You may put snails in a hermit crab’s aquarium for cleaning purposes. It is a case of potluck as to whether the two animals can co-exist. Anecdotal evidence claims that blue-legged hermit crabs are more aggressive than their red-legged counterparts.
Hermit crabs are likelier kill a small for its shell than eat it. Once a snail has been parted from its shell, it may become food. Behavior explains how an attractive shell can stimulate the appetite of the hermit crab.
Do Hermit Crabs Eat Earthworms?
Many hermit crabs enjoy eating earthworms. Worms are juicy and meaty on the palate. Serve a bowl of earthworms to multiple hermit crabs, and a feeding frenzy is likely.
Do not just dig up earthworms from the yard. They may have been crawling through fertilizer, pesticide, or fungi. This will not harm the worm, but it can kill hermit crabs.
Another danger of live earthworms is their propensity for digging. Earthworms may dig into the substrate, ruining any tunnels made by hermit crabs. Your hermit crab will also need to compete for space under the substrate, causing avoidable distress.
Benefits of Feeding Insects to Hermit Crabs
Bugs can clean a habitat and keep it sanitary. They will not do this single-handedly, but they’ll certainly help with cleanliness. Spot cleaning will become less troublesome with assistance from insects.
Insects and invertebrates provide protein in the diet. They will also remind hermit crabs of their natural environment. Perhaps most importantly, they provide additional nourishment and dietary diversity.
Risks of Feeding Insects to Hermit Crabs
There should be no risk of feeding shop-bought, pre-killed insects to hermit crabs. These bugs will not fight back and will be tested for safety. The only real hazard is rotting, so uneaten food should be removed within 24 hours.
Live insects are riskier. Hermit crabs prefer not to hunt and subdue prey. As scavengers, making hermit crabs work for a meal may cause distress. They may hurt hermit crabs by fighting for their life.
This can unbalance the ecosystem of the hermit crabs’ habitat. Larger bugs, like crickets, may prey on many smaller insects. This will impact the cleaning potential. What’s more, the larger insects may multiply in number and become the dominant species in the tank.
Hermit crabs can eat insects. In fact, wild hermit crabs will frequently do so. Insects are not a hermit crab’s first choice of food, but can supplement nutrition. Focus more on feeding hermit crabs fresh fruit and vegetables.