Introduction: How to Spoil Your Hermit Crabs: Food Edition

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Forget buying toxic hermit crab food at the pet store, feeding your crabs a healthy and well-balanced diet is really easy! This instructable contains 4 easy ways to spoil your hermies with food. The guaranteed result? More active, healthy, and fun-to-watch crabs. 

Step 1: Healthy Food Mix (method One)

Head to a grocery store with a bulk foods section. Look for foods such as:
  • grains (wheat bran, oats, amaranth, wild rice)
  • seeds (chia, pumpkin, sesame)
  • unsweeted dried fruits (goji berries, mango, pineapple, raisins, coconut)
  • unsalted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds)
  • random (granola mixes, nutritional yeast flakes, etc.)
You don't need much! Just a small scoop of each food you choose. Yes, the cashier might think you're crazy for getting $.08 of nutritional yeast flakes or $1.07 of goji berries, but that's ok. 

Don't have access to a bulk food section? Check your pantry for things like:
  • oats
  • granola crumbs from the bottom of the bag
  • nuts
  • healthy crackers or chips (minimal salt, no onion flavoring)

Step 2: Gather Ingredients & Tools

  • seeds, nuts, grains, etc. from the bulk food section or your pantry (appropriate amounts shown in bags)
  • calcium powder
  • dried land bugs and water "bugs": mealworms, river shrimp, bloodworms, crickets. I've found Walmart has a better price on these than pet stores.
  • Small plastic tubs (1 cup capacity or less), lacking those, you can use plastic baggies. 
  • Desiccant packets. Not crucial, but very useful in keeping your mixes fresh and dry. They can be purchased on amazon for less than $5 for a large pack.
  • Mixing bowl, spoon
  • Small mortar and pestle. Also not crucial, but it's handy for grinding food especially if you have small crabs. 
  • Cutting board, knife
  • Tape

Step 3: Chop Fruit and Nuts

Chop fruit and nuts into small pieces (the smaller your crabs, the smaller the pieces should be). Dried fruit can become sticky, so spread a pinch of calcium powder on the cut sections to help keep them separate. 

Step 4: Choose Your Ingredients

Now put the chosen ingredients into the mixing bowl. Hermit crabs thrive on diverse food, so try to add a different three to five ingredients to each mix you make. Each mix should include grain, animal protein, fat (seeds and nuts), and maybe some calcium. Sweet things like dried fruit are a bonus for your crabs and should be used sparingly.

Step 5: Combine & Package

Make a tape loop and tape the desiccant packet to the lid of your container. If you're using baggies you can probably put it right into the mix, but I feel more comfortable keeping it out of the food. 

Your mixes are done. Use a dedicated spoon to stir the ingredients before serving. Usually one spoonful per feeding bowl is a good amount. 

If you keep your mixes stacked, move the mix you're using to the bottom of the stack after feeding to ensure daily rotation :)

Step 6: Popcorn! (method Two)

If there's one thing hermit crabs love, it's popcorn. But don't even think about sharing your 'extra butter flavor' microwave bag with them. Instead, pick up some plain corn kernels while you're at the bulk food section. 

For perfect hermie popcorn:
  • plain corn kernels
  • paper lunch bag
  • small amount of coconut or other vegetable oil

Step 7: Stir & Microwave

Stir a small amount of oil into the kernels to evenly coat them. Pour them into the lunch bag, fold it over a few times and microwave using the popcorn setting.

For the love of all that is holy, watch the popcorn the whole time! I set a microwave fire today while making this. I wish I were kidding. As long as you watch and smell carefully this probably won't happen. Kids, please ask parents for help with this one!

Let the popcorn cool and store it in a baggie. Hermies don't mind if it's a little burnt or stale after a few months. You can also add it to a food mix!

Step 8: Chia Garden! (method Three)

Chia seeds are the best, awesome for people and crabs. Feed them as seeds or take it a step further and plant a garden in their substrate.

Step 9: Poke a Trench, Plant & Spray

Use your finger tips to make a shallow trench in their substrate near the light source. Add a sprinkling of seeds and cover them. Spray them with water.

In about two days you'll see the sprouts. Your crabs will start munching on them soon after and soon the "garden" will be gone. But it's easy to replant. You should be misting the crabs with water daily, so the seeds will be watered in that process and flourish effortlessly.

Hermit crabs use modified gills to breath, so their crabitat needs to be nice and moist at all times!

Step 10: Leftovers! (method Four)

Do you have a few wilty leaves left over in a tub of greens? How about the core of a sliced apple? Making eggs? Don't toss the shell, share with your crabs!

If you eat organic produce and eggs, you can share the waste from them with your crabs. They are natural scavengers and will enjoy crunching through egg shells (great source of calcium) and pinching pieces from your apple cores and wilted produce.

Why organic? Pesticides, which are bad for your body, are very harmful to theirs. 

Step 11: An Example of a Fancy Hermie Meal...

This meal includes popcorn drizzled with honey and sunflower seeds, greens, and canned octopus. It was well received.

  • Wondering if a food is hermit crab safe? Check out this list. In general, avoid onion, garlic and citrus. 
  • When picking any kind of dried meat it is critical to look at the ingredient list for a pesticide called Ethoxyquin. It is a common preservative in many commercial hermit crab and fish foods and is poisonous to your crabs.
  • Have questions about hermit crab care? Please feel free to ask me, I would love to help. People tend to receive poor or inadequate advice at the pet store. 
  • For more ways to spoil your hermit crabs, check out my other two Instructables on this topic: Make a coconut castle and more food ideas