Last Updated on October 8, 2023 by Joanne Harper
Fresh vegetables are the cornerstone of a hermit crab diet. Veggies provide hermit crabs with the nutrition they need and appeal to their varied palate.
Among the best vegetables for hermit crabs are carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, and leafy greens. Most vegetables are okay, but onions and garlic must be avoided because they’re toxic to hermit crabs.
You shouldn’t feed hermit crabs the same vegetables daily because they’ll quickly grow bored. After all, these scavenging animals prefer a varied diet.
Can Hermit Crabs Eat Vegetables?
The brighter the vegetable’s color, the better it’ll be for hermit crabs. Bright colors mean a vegetable is rich in carotenoids; these natural antioxidants give hermit crabs their deep, vibrant skin color.
If giving vegetables to hermit crabs, ensure that they’re grown organically. While vegetables are healthy, the presence of pesticides or herbicides is life-threatening.
Wash vegetables before serving them to hermit crabs, but don’t use tap water because the heavy metals and chlorine in tap water are toxic. Use purified, distilled, or bottled water for food preparation.
Hermit crabs are small and have appetites to match their diminutive size. Don’t leave fresh vegetables to rot in the heat and humidity of a tank; remove any uneaten food once they’ve had their fill.
What Vegetables Do Hermit Crabs Like?
Hermit crabs gravitate toward sweet-tasting foods over anything else. This means they’re more likely to prefer eating bell peppers than bitter-tasting vegetables.
You can, of course, make sour vegetables more palatable by adding some honey.
Hermit crabs are rarely fussy about what they eat as long as they get variety. As natural scavengers, any ripe and flavorsome vegetables should meet with their approval.
What Vegetables Can You Feed Hermit Crabs?
Almost all vegetables will be consumed by hermit crabs, although some are undeniably better than others. Let’s look more closely at the vegetables that hermit crabs eat:
Asparagus is packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K. Also, asparagus contains lots of soluble fiber.
The best way to serve asparagus to hermit crabs is to dehydrate the whole vegetable before chopping it into flakes. However, you should avoid feeding them too much.
Beans And Legumes
Beans and legumes, such as kidney beans, can be added to a hermit crab’s diet.
They’re natural protein sources, so they’re good for hermit crabs. Also, beans are high in flavonoids and antioxidants, offering further health benefits.
Don’t pour tinned beans into a food dish, as most contain harmful components in the brine. The beans will also be tough, which can be difficult for hermit crabs to eat.
Instead, cook and simmer the beans before serving to soften them up, which may take up to two hours. Then, let the beans cool off before serving them.
Beets are deep purple, which means they contain lots of carotenoids.
Unfortunately, beets are also high in oxalic acid, which blocks calcium absorption. They’re safe as an occasional treat but not a nutritional cornerstone of a hermit crab’s diet.
What broccoli lacks in taste, it makes up in nutritional value.
Chop the broccoli into pincer-sized chunks, but retain the stem because this contains the most nutrients. You can try steaming broccoli for hermit crabs, which may reduce interest.
Broccoli is high in calcium and protein, the two most essential parts of a hermit crab’s diet.
All varieties of cabbage are safe for hermit crabs. High quantities of calcium and vitamin K ensure that cabbage keeps the exoskeleton of hermit crabs tough and sturdy.
Cabbage also contains carotenoids and antioxidants, which are healthy for hermit crabs. You’ll need to feed the cabbage raw to provide these benefits.
You could grind up the cabbage and serve it alongside other vegetables as a powdered supplement.
Hermit crabs will relish the crunchy texture of carrots. More importantly, carrots contain carotenoids, which give this vegetable a distinctive orange color.
The best way to serve carrots is sliced or in small batons that are easily picked up. Also, the green tops of carrots are safe for hermit crabs.
Carrots are high in vitamin A. This is a health benefit in moderation, but too much can be toxic.
Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable. You can offer it in chunks (with leaves), slice and dice it, or grind it and apply it to other foods as a powder.
The main benefit of cauliflower for hermit crabs is its high calcium. It’s essential for a strong and sturdy exoskeleton, making it a good choice for hermit crabs expected to molt shortly.
Cucumber is water-filled, which is vital because hermit crabs can dry out. It’s also high in calcium, while the skin is packed with carotenoids.
Fresh, sliced cucumber is good for hermit crabs, but you can dehydrate it. The latter may be more palatable, as they’re more likely to enjoy the chewy texture of cucumber chips.
Unfortunately, cucumber carries no scent, meaning some hermit crabs will ignore it. However, adding a dab of honey can make cucumber more appealing.
The eggplant’s fleshy interior appeals to the palate of hermit crabs. Also, the deep purple flesh is high in carotenoids.
No colony of hermit crabs will eat an entire eggplant before it rots. You’ll need to slice the eggplant into chunks to offer it in moderation.
Better yet, slice the eggplant and dehydrate the chunks and strips because this provides a steady stream of snacks for hermit crabs. Serve these chunks to your hermit crabs every 3-4 days.
Green Beans And Peas
Hermit crabs can eat green beans or peas boiled in a pan of water. Also, they can be enjoyed raw by defrosting them before serving.
You can dehydrate beans, chop them into flakes, or grate them into a fine powder. Either way, hermit crabs will benefit from the vitamin K and calcium in green beans and peas.
Dark, leafy greens are always a recommended dietary addition. Kale is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins A, B6, C, and K, and antioxidants, making it ideal for hermit crabs.
Adding fresh kale to a tank will get your hermit crabs’ interest. If you want to sustain the lifespan of this vegetable, dehydrate it, as hermit crabs enjoy kale chips.
When serving leafy greens to hermit crabs, darker invariably equals better. Lettuce leaves of a darker green shade are healthy, but Iceberg lettuce should be avoided.
Iceberg lettuce contains calcium but otherwise offers little nutrition. It is also tasteless and devoid of scent, so your hermit crabs are unlikely to pay much attention.
Romaine or Boston lettuce is more likely to excite your hermit crabs. Shred these lettuce leaves, and your hermit crabs will benefit from vitamins A and C and calcium.
In their natural habitat, hermit crabs scavenge, so they likely encounter fungi.
If you’re unsure if certain mushrooms are safe for human consumption, keep them out of the hermit crabs’ tank. Only get store-bought organic mushrooms.
Chestnut mushrooms are often a delicacy for hermit crabs, as they have the right blend of taste and chewy texture. Also, they’re high in antioxidants, protein, and calcium.
Vitamins C and K are the main benefits of parsnips for hermit crabs.
Avoid peeling parsnips too deeply, as the flavor is below the skin. Hermit crabs don’t mind chewing through the skin of parsnips.
Like most root vegetables, parsnips contain more nutrition before cooking. If you don’t wish to offer raw parsnips, dehydrate them and cut them into fine flakes and chips.
Peppers, especially bell peppers, are bright-colored and packed with carotenoids, vitamins A and C, and potassium, making them healthy for hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs are more likely to be drawn to orange or yellow peppers due to their sweet taste and scent. However, most hermit crabs will crunch through less flavorful red or green peppers.
Cut the bell peppers into small chunks and remove any seeds to remove any choking risk.
Potatoes and Yams
Potatoes – and their sweeter counterparts, yams – are safe for hermit crabs.
Caveats apply, so offer these foods as an occasional treat. They offer little nutritional value, and hermit crabs shouldn’t consume too much starch.
Cook the potatoes up to remove any lingering threat of pesticides or herbicides and let them cool off. Then, chop the potatoes into small chunks.
Avoid any potato that’s not fully ripe, as green skin should be kept away from hermit crabs. Peel the skin for the safest serving option, as the stems (commonly called eyes) can be toxic.
Hermit crabs enjoy radishes, but they have limited nutritional value for hermit crabs, especially the green appendages.
Hermit crabs often enjoy eating radishes, which makes them a great treat or training tool. If fed sparingly, most hermit crabs are keen on radishes. Although not healthy food, radishes contain Vitamin C.
Radishes can grow to oversized dimensions, so hermit crabs shouldn’t be left with an entire radish, as it’ll rot before they finish it. Instead, chop chunks of radish and apply them to a food bowl.
“Sea vegetables” is a generic term. Check your local supermarket, and you’ll find a range of products under this remit. Seaweed is more common, although algae can be found in some locations.
Hermit crabs love these foods as they mimic their natural diet. Unsurprisingly, it’s aquatic hermit crabs that enjoy sea vegetables the most.
Wild terrestrial hermit crabs scavenge seaweed and algae when the tide is low.
Like other leafy greens, such as kale, spinach is rich in protein, which makes spinach leaves (raw or cooked) an excellent addition to the diet of hermit crabs.
Spinach spirulina is essentially powdered spinach that has the same nutritional value. Put some in a food dish, and the scent will tempt your hermit crabs to eat.
Brussel sprouts may be considered holiday food, but hermit crabs love them all year round.
These vegetables are best enjoyed dehydrated and shrunk in size. The chewiness and texture of sprouts will appeal to most hermit crabs.
Sprouts are the ideal side dish for hermit crabs, so serve them alongside meat for maximum impact.
Alternatively, grind up sprouts to provide extra protein and vitamin C. In powdered form, they make a good filler for a hermit crab’s meal.
Botanically, tomatoes are considered a vegetable, and that’s good enough for us.
Tomatoes offer limited nutrition to hermit crabs but are a welcome addition to other foods. For the best results, slice tomatoes – or better yet, dehydrate them.
The smaller the portion, the more likely hermit crabs will eat them. If you’re serving whole tomatoes, there’s no need to cut off the greens because they’re safe for consumption.
Zucchini is packed with antioxidants that bolster the health of hermit crabs.
It can be dehydrated, making it a suitable vegetable for flakes. You could even mix dehydrated zucchini with oats to make small muffins.
Another good use of zucchini is to shred it in a mandolin, creating courgetti. As the name suggests, this is a vegetable-based form of spaghetti, so hermit crabs will enjoy picking at the strips.
Are Any Vegetables Unsafe for Hermit Crabs?
Onions and garlic are the only vegetables strictly verboten from a hermit crab diet because they can cause breathing problems due to their toxic properties.
This becomes an issue if you offer hermit crabs pellets. Check the ingredient list, and you’ll likely find garlic powder. This is applied in trace amounts, designed to create an enticing scent.
Trace amounts are unlikely to harm hermit crabs. Onions or garlic have no nutritional value, so applying garlic powder is a needless risk.
Beyond these restrictions, any vegetable listed above is safe for hermit crabs. Just remember the limitations surrounding moderation, freshness, and cleanliness.
Never feed rotten vegetables to hermit crabs. Also, don’t wash them with chlorinated water.
How Often Should Hermit Crabs Eat Vegetables?
For most pets, vegetables should be fed sparingly due to concerns over gastric issues. However, this doesn’t apply to hermit crabs, as vegetables shouldn’t lead to increased elimination or upset stomachs.
Hermit crabs shouldn’t eat the same vegetables as their scavengers in their natural surroundings.
You can feed hermit crabs fresh vegetables daily, but only in addition to other foods—mix vegetables with other dry foods and snacks to keep hermit crabs engaged with their food.
Why Won’t My Hermit Crabs Eat Vegetables?
As discussed, hermit crabs will often gleefully eat anything offered to them. Despite this, all hermit crabs have unique personalities and preferences.
If multiple hermit crabs reject vegetables, something is amiss. Their aversion to vegetables is likely due to one of three core explanations:
As discussed, hermit crabs are natural scavengers that enjoy a varied diet, meaning they can grow bored of familiar foods. According to The Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, hermit crabs rarely eat the same thing twice in 24 hours.
This is the most likely explanation if your hermit crabs enjoy vegetables one day but seem indifferent the next. Your hermit crabs have not taken against vegetables as a food group but want to eat something different for their next meal.
If all your hermit crabs stop eating vegetables, there’s likely an environmental issue.
Check the temperature and humidity of the habitat are at optimum levels. An inappropriate environment can cause stress, which results in a loss of appetite.
Perhaps more likely is an absence of saltwater. According to Animal Behavior, hermit crabs choose food by scent and rely upon saltwater to stimulate this scent.
Check the pool of saline water in your hermit crab tank. If this is empty, refill it immediately. Then, you’ll likely find that your hermit crabs regain their appetite.
Negative Prior Experience
Hermit crabs have good memories when recalling bad experiences, which may taint their relationship with food.
For example, as per PLoS One, some hermit crabs may fight over food, so each hermit crab may wait for another to eat first to avoid a repeat.
There’s also the possibility that the last serving of vegetables made the hermit crabs unwell. A rotten tomato may have caused physical distress, which will be remembered in the future.
If served appropriately and in moderation, most vegetables can be added to the diet of hermit crabs. Pay attention to colorful, sweet, and crunchy vegetables because they’ll be most enticing.