Can You Eat Hermit Crabs or Are They Poisonous?

Can You Eat Hermit Crabs or Are They Poisonous?

There are numerous seafood that interest our tastebuds. Be it variety of fishes, prawns, clams, or crabs a seafood lover would want to have it all. But can you eat hermit crabs? How are they different from regular ones and what determines their edibility?

There can be times when you cannot resist mouth-watering seafood items, but also get confused when a restaurant’s menu has an array of seafood specialties.

As picking the wrong one might spoil your dinner, getting to know the different species of edible crabs makes sense.

People around the globe enjoy consuming various kinds of crabs, but not all will equally tantalize your taste buds. Moreover, there are crab species like Xanthid crabs that are extremely poisonous and you must not eat them.

But can you eat hermit crabs, Dungeness crabs, and king crabs?

Which types of crabs are the tastiest? Explore the different varieties of crabs to relish this delicacy even more!

Are crabs just delicious or have nutritional value?

Crab eaters often wonder if eating crabs is good for their health.

You will be amazed to learn that crabs are not just delectable but also loaded with a range of nutrients.

Yes, this nutrition-rich crustacean has amazing health benefits when consumed in moderation.

Here are your top 5 reasons to include crabs in your diet:

  • Crab is an incredible source of protein. Unlike the protein present in red meat, crab protein is of high quality and is digestible for eaters of all age groups.
  • Packed with minerals and vitamins, crab meat is not high in fat and has Omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, it boosts brain health and keeps heart ailments at bay.
  • Eating hermit crabs and other shellfish dishes is the best way to ensure the body gets enough selenium. Selenium plays a crucial role in preventing damage to tissues and cells. Selenium also strengthens the immune system and helps the body fight against diseases.
  • Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 contained in crabs is necessary for the human body to produce red blood cells and steroids. It also betters eye health, keeps skin young and glowing, and benefits the nervous system.
  • Crab meat contains approx. 56 times the copper present in chicken, beef, and salmon. This essential mineral keeps the immune system, nerves, blood vessels, and bones healthy. It also has phosphorus, which takes part in multiple metabolic actions, kidney functioning, development of the skeletal system, and cell growth.

So, now you have more reasons to savor crabs even when you aren’t on a beach trip!

Can you eat hermit crabs?

People have been savoring crabs for hundreds of years. But when it comes to hermit crabs, inhabitants from different regions have diverse opinions on hermit crab eating. Even if not the most obvious seafood choice, they are edible.

There are as many as 800+ species of hermit crabs that thrive on algae, mussels, and clams. Commonly found in tropical climates, these crustaceans typically reside in their shells.

Their shells protect them from molt as well as predators like animals and birds of prey. They aren’t the same as normal crabs as the back portion of their body is devoid of an exoskeleton.

seafoods to eat

Can you eat hermit crabs without getting poisoned?

While people eat hermit crabs, food experts don’t consider them an ideal option. Most restaurants don’t serve them because of the amount or quality of the meat produced by hermit crabs.

What’s more concerning is that these crabs are scavengers and they eat a diverse range of foods that can be toxic for the human body. They may be dangerous bacteria that can cause human illness.

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So, can you eat a hermit crab? The choice is yours. It is safe to eat if you cook it properly.

Make sure they are fresh before cooking them, and never eat hermit crabs you find dead already.

For example, when buying from the market, ensure that they are alive when purchased.

Again when eating out, go to a restaurant where they would let you choose live crab before preparation.

What type of hermit crabs should you eat?

Coconut crab is a variety of hermit crab that people in some regions eat regularly. This crab diet comprises mainly nuts, coconuts, and fruits.

The hermit crab species is larger in size than the normal hermit crab you generally see. Its average weight ranges between 8 pounds and 9 pounds when it’s fully grown.

The meat of coconut crabs is sweet and tastes more like lobster meat than regular crabs.

Should you eat raw hermit crabs?

Thinking if it is a good idea to eat raw hermit crabs? If you want to taste hermit crabs out of curiosity, the process is not hard.

Just like you have other crabs, avoid eating them raw. These tiny sea creatures are scavengers, which means they feed on decaying and dead matter.

So, are hermit crabs omnivores?

The answer is yes and eating them raw might affect your health.

But if you cook them well on high flame, you will kill the harmful pathogens present in them.

What does a hermit crab taste like?

If you haven’t tried hermit crabs before, you must be intrigued to know the taste.

It has a delicate and sweet flavor with some hints of shrimp and crab. The meat is tender and juicy and the texture is bouncy.

You will also get a mild sea-salty taste which won’t be overwhelming.

Hence, the overall taste will be something you will love if you are a food connoisseur.

To enhance the taste and fill your tummy, have crabs with roasted or grilled veggies.

The combination of the savory taste of crabs and the roasted smell of vegetables creates a sophisticated and well-balanced meal.

Eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, and zucchini are some common veggies you can add.

How to cook hermit crabs?

There are various ways to make hermit crabs.

  • The first step is to thoroughly wash them in running water to get rid of dirt from the body
  • After cleaning, heat water in a pan and add some salt to it
  • Only the water starts boiling, place the crabs in the water and wait for at least 10 minutes
  • Steaming is another traditional method of cooking hermit crabs
  • Steam it for 15 minutes and remove the shell to eat the soft meat
  • If you want a unique recipe, you can also grill crabs
  • You will require a hot grill where you have to place the crabs
  • Allow each side to cook for 5 minutes and then serve hot.

Fun fact: The hermit crab scientific name is Paguroidea 

Hermit crabs vs regular crabs

You won’t get hermit crabs in most restaurants for reasons like their diet and size.

Additionally, people adopt hermit crabs as pets in some areas, and eating them is banned.

As hermit crabs are 4-5 inches in size, they contain very little portion of meat.

The meat’s quality is not as great as other crabs like king crabs.

It also to do with their diet which includes dead plants, algae, and clams.

can you eat hermit crabs

The most scrumptious crab species

Since you are a crab eater, you will have fun exploring the numerous types and kinds of edible crabs.

Find out which ones from this list you have tried out already:

Dungeness Crab

If you have eaten a giant crab somewhere, it is the Dungeness crab. This crab is obtainable in Mexico and Alaska. It is huge in size and weighs nearly 2 pounds when it is an adult.

The Dungeness Crab derived its name from a place named Dungeness. It is a lively town close to Washington State and people of this area used to harvest these crabs.

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Dungeness Crab has pink flesh and is sweet, luscious, and tender. Winter is the best time to harvest these crabs.

Stone Crab

Stone crabs are also called Morro Crab. The flesh of this crab is white and its meat is aromatic, yummy, and lean.

The crab is famous in US regions and its tough claws separate it from other varieties.

The fishermen first snap off the claws and throw these crabs into the seawater again. This process helps in regenerating their claws.

King Crab

King Crab is so common that you must have heard its name. Japanese King Crabs, Russian King Crabs, and Alaskan King Crabs are big-sized palatable crabs. They can weigh as heavy as 20 pounds. But all of its flesh is not edible and the meat appears red and white.

The harvest season for king crabs is between October and January. For foodies, the King Crab is the tastiest large crab species to eat occasionally.

king crabs

Soft Shell Crab

As is evident from the name, the soft-shell crab has the softest shell which you can remove easily. If you do not enjoy eating tough and hardy meat, this is the perfect type of crab for you.

Chefs serve these crabs as a fried dish as they taste heavenly when cooked with spices. You can add them to your boring sandwich to give it a crispy twist. They are chewy and salty and are among the most eaten sea crabs.

Rock Crab

The Snow Crab or the Rock Crab is the kind of crab you get on the buffet menu in most non-vegetarian restaurants. It is readily available everywhere, but different countries have their unique cooking styles. The rock crab is native to South Carolina and Iceland.

Brown Edible Crab

The brown crab has a reddish-brown exterior and this variant is medium-sized. The inhabitants of the United Kingdom like to have this crab. However, they are not so common in countries of the South and the East.

Its rich flavor will entice you to order another plate of it. In places where the brown edible crab grows in plenty, locals usually prefer to eat it boiled. But do people eat hermit crabs? Refer to the above sections to know about it in detail.

Peekytoe Crab

If you are a fan of sweet and baked delicacies, the peekytoe crab has to be on your list of seafood items to try. It is just what you need to make a variety of dishes like crab cakes, crab rolls, crab salads, and other wholesome plates of seafood.

Europeans have peekytoe crabs on special occasions as well as family gatherings. However, they are among the lesser-found varieties in countries of the East.

Horsehair Crab

Primarily consumed in Japan, the horsehair crab is a delicate and thin variant of crab. In this crab, the amount of meat is lesser than in other popular species.

Even if the average size is 100 mm, it is one of the tastiest crabs and it is sweet.

To retain its natural sweetness, you should prepare it by following the boiling method. Horsehair crabs are orange in color and it is served with the shell.

Final Thoughts

So, now you have got answers to all your questions like ‘are hermit crabs edible?’. It will be less challenging for you to pick crab recipes when you’re dining at a famous seafood restaurant.

What to do if there aren’t too many restaurants in your locality that specialize in seafood items? You can easily prepare crab recipes at home that your family members and guests will appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can hermit crabs carry disease?

Hermit crabs cannot transmit sicknesses to humans. On the contrary, they are hypoallergenic, making them great pets for individuals with allergies. But as land crabs are scavengers, toxins can be present in their body.

2. Are hermit crabs friendly to humans?

Hermit crabs are so friendly with human beings that they can be perfect companions. They have a personality, just like humans, and can be either overfriendly or too shy. They are non-aggressive and you can handle them without any fear.

3. Do hermit crabs eat meat?

Hermit crabs that grow in the wind eat both animal and plant matter. So, are hermit crabs omnivores? Yes, their diet can be both meat-based and plant-based. In captivity, these crabs survive on store-bought food supplements along with fresh treats and foods.

4. Are hermit crabs endangered?

No, hermit crabs are not endangered but they live for a short span of time. Many people pet hermit crabs and need to follow a proper way to do so to prevent shortening their lifespan due to captivity.

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