Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Extreme Food Trials

Sometimes our curiosity about finding new sources of food for hermit crabs may take us down a dangerous road. For instance, hermit crabs have been observed eating a great many disgusting things from the wild. Being scavengers, they are attracted to items that could be hazardous for humans to handle including carion and excrement. How far should a crab-keeper go in search of variety?

Carion. Crabs will eat dead meat in all stages of decomposition without risk of illness it seems. However, one must weigh that against the risk to human keepers who can become fatally ill after handling rotten meats. Whenever handling raw meat, please wash your hands. For the sake of your household’s human inhabitants, please avoid feeding decomposed flesh due to the smell, high bacterial content, and for fear of attracting bugs.

Pooh. People have witnessed wild hermit crabs eating turtle pooh. One experienced crab keeper has been feeding them pooh from her guinea pig for years without adverse affects. We currently have no resources for conducting food trials on excrement, but would like to offer some guidelines for those of you conducting your own trials. Please exclude pooh from carnivores and omnivores from your pet’s diet. The digestive systems of these sort of animals digest so thoroughly that there is very little usable nutrients remaining in the waste. Herbivores however have inefficient digestive system so what comes out looks very much like the food they ate—evidence that there is more there than waste alone. The waste of rabbits, cows, deer, elk, moose, horse, elephant, turtle, etc. may come to have merrit.
If you should come to have success with these sort of experiments, please comment on them here so that our readers can have access to the info you have gathered.

1 comment:

Crabaddict said...

I have been feeding guinea pig poop to my hermit crabs for over 4 years now, about once a week. I have not had any negative effects feeding them this type of "food". As a matter of fact, they seem to enjoy it a lot, I'd say more so than whatever else goes in their food dish. The species most interested in the guinea pig waste are my ruggies and purple picher crabs, from what I've observed.
If anyone decides to feed guinea pig feces to their crabs, there should be a few guidelines to follow. For instance, the animals, the feces come from, must be healthy. A good diet is fed to them. For example, the food pellets they are fed contain NO ethoxyquin and preservatives (these are toxic to hermit crabs and guinea pigs alike). Also, fresh fruits and veggies, prefferably organic, are fed to them. If you house your guinea pig(s) in a hutch/cage with pine or cedar bedding then do not feed your crabs the feces as these types of wood are harmful to hermit crabs. I have been using Carefresh brand bedding for years, which is made entirely of recycled paper.
You may be wondering if there is any foul smell in the tank when the feces are added. The answer is no. I never noticed a foul smell coming from my tank when the feces are fed. Guinea pig waste is small and I don't put more than two pellets in the dish. Also, guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant matter. Protein in a diet is what causes foul smelling excrement.
-Crabaddict