Can You Eat Hermit Crabs, and Should You?

Can You Eat Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers who devour anything they can get their hands on. They eat mussels, shells, and bits of dead animals, as well as macroalgae. That’s why you’re probably wondering if it is safe to eat hermit crabs?

You can eat hermit crabs; however, there are some risk factors, so it is not recommended as a first-choice meal. There is a specific type of hermit crab regularly eaten in some parts of the world. It is because of the high quality and quantity of meat produced through these crabs.

To clear any doubts you may have, here are several reasons for whether it is okay to eat hermit crabs and to make sure that you can eat safe and healthy hermit crabs.

Is it Safe to Eat Hermit Crab?

Hermit crabs come in all shapes and sizes, with lifespans ranging from a few months to 30 years or more. Hermit crab can only be eaten in certain situations. However, they’re not often used in recipes and are mostly not offered in restaurants.

Hermit crabs are not often eaten due to various factors, including their length, food, and role as a pet in some places. Because most hermit crabs are just 4–5 inches long, they generate relatively little meat, and the meat they do provide is usually of bad quality.

Hermit crabs of all sizes can be prepared and eaten, but small hermit crabs usually do not have much meat on them.

Which Type of Hermit Crab Is Safe To Eat?

In the South Pacific, at least one species of hermit crab (known as the coconut crab) is typically eaten. The coconut crab variety grows to be quite large, so it’s worth having for eating.

Coconut crabs, a type of hermit crab, are eaten regularly in some areas. Fruits, nuts, and coconuts are the mainstays of this hermit crab’s diet, which coconut crabs obtain right off the tree. Their meat is said to be sweeter and tastier than that of other animals.

You’ll need a 4 inches hermit crab at least to get a large amount of meat. However, some hermit crabs are unsafe because their diet consists primarily of dead clams, algae, plants, and fruits obtained from both land and sea.

How to Prepare and Eat Hermit Crabs?

Cooking a hermit crab is similar to cooking regular crab. Make sure never to eat a hermit crab that has died; the result is they start to rot and become toxic.

When you cook them, they should be alive. To guarantee that the crab does not have any dirt or other items on its body, properly wash it.

  1. Put the hermit crabs in the strainer and carefully wash the shell under warm running water to remove any dirt particles.
  2. Fill the stockpot with roughly 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Add 3 tablespoons salt.
  3. Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and place them in the water.
  4. Place the hermit crabs in a pot of boiling salted water and cook for five minutes.
  5. Add your favourite chopped veggies to flavor the crabs and serve as a side dish.
  6. Cook for another 15 minutes with the crabs and vegetables.
  7. In a strainer, drain the mixture and serve it ready.

Note: If the crabs are kept cold, they can be cooked up to 48 hours after death, but they will lose their distinctive flavor and texture if they are cooked when their meat is mushy. The best time to cook crabs is within 10 to 15 minutes after killing them.

Some Facts about boiling Hermit Crabs

Killing the crab before cooking is not only proper and quick, but it also prevents the crab from losing limbs due to shock, which is common when boiling alive.

Crabs die in four to five minutes when placed in hot water. Putting a live crab in hot water can cause the meat to become stiff. When hermit crabs are put in hot water, they kill immediately.

Crabs shed their claws and legs when boiling alive as a defense mechanism, so another method is to submerge them in fresh water and drown them for eight hours.

In order to steam, place an inch or two of salted water in the bottom of a large pot and bring it to a boil.

How to Buy the Right Hermit crabs?

If you’re looking to buy hermit crab, there are a few things to check for to make sure you acquire the right one.

Each crab will need a lot of empty shells to choose from. Shells that have been colored should not be purchased. They are a waste of money as well as a threat to crabs. Buying shells from a pet store will be more expensive, and you will have a smaller selection.

It would be best if you did some research online to learn what types of shells are popular so you don’t waste your money.

Crabs are about 20% to 25% meat, so you’ll only be able to eat about a quarter of their weight while they’re still alive. Buy 3 pounds for each person to be on the safe side.

When serving smaller crabs, a helpful tip is to get between 8 and 12 crabs per person, slightly less if additional food is provided.


Hermit crabs aren’t edible until they’re cooked. Some procedures and precautions may be helpful in decreasing the risk of serious harm. It may, however, have a danger factor.

Only those with a healthy body are capable of overcoming these dangers. Hermit crabs should be avoided by people who are susceptible to disease.

The safest method of enjoying all the benefits of the hermit crab is to cook it before eating it. Hermit crabs cannot be eaten raw, so they should be cooked before eating to remove any bacteria or toxins.

It is important to remember that hermit crabs aren’t harmful to humans. They do not carry any human diseases, nor are they venomous. However, the enclosure of a hermit crab can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.

Frequently Asked Question

What part of the hermit crab can you eat without getting sick?

The part of the crab, including shells, lungs, and stomach, are the only sections of a crab that are not eaten. Humans are not poisoned by a crab's lungs or abdomen, although they taste awful and are hard to digest.

Why hermit crabs are considered unsafe??

Hermit crabs have less meat on their bodies due to their smaller size. Because a meal requires so many people to cook, it is commonly regarded as inappropriate for human consumption.

Is it true that hermit crab mites are dangerous to humans?

They will not harm you, your kids, or any other pets in your house. Mites of many sorts can be seen on and around hermit crabs. Others live on the crab and should be removed.

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Tauseeq is the principal creator of He loves cooking and wants to help others overcome kitchen challenges through practical advice and solutions.

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