Rabbits are herbivorous animals, and their diet consists mainly of hay, fresh vegetables, and fruits. However, sometimes rabbit owners may wonder if their pets can eat mushrooms.
Mushrooms are a type of fungi that come in wide varieties and can be found in almost every corner of the world. While some mushrooms are safe for rabbits to eat, others can be harmful or even deadly. In this article, we will explore the question of whether rabbits can eat mushrooms and what types of mushrooms are safe for them.
Can Rabbits Have Mushrooms?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Some types of mushrooms are safe for rabbits to eat, while others are not. The problem is that it can be difficult to distinguish between safe and toxic mushrooms, even for experts. Some mushrooms that are safe for humans to eat can be toxic to rabbits, and vice versa.
Mushrooms are not a natural part of a rabbit’s diet, and they should not be a significant part of it. Rabbits’ digestive systems are designed to digest high-fiber foods such as hay and fresh vegetables. They do not have the same digestive system as humans. Mushrooms contain different types of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that rabbits may not be able to digest properly.
Rabbits are also sensitive to certain compounds found in mushrooms, such as oxalates, which can cause kidney stones, and purines, which can cause gout. Therefore, it is important to choose mushrooms that are safe for rabbits and to feed them in moderation.
Safe Mushrooms for Rabbits
Some types of mushrooms are safe for rabbits to eat, but they should be given in small amounts and only occasionally. The following are some safe mushrooms that rabbits can eat:
- Button mushrooms: Button mushrooms are the most common type of mushroom found in supermarkets, and they are safe for rabbits to eat. They are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a healthy treat for rabbits. However, they should be given in small amounts and only occasionally.
- Portobello mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms are also safe for rabbits to eat. They are larger than button mushrooms and have a more robust flavor. However, like button mushrooms, they should be given in small amounts and only occasionally.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms are a popular type of mushroom in Asian cuisine. They are safe for rabbits to eat but should be given in small amounts. Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which is thought to have anti-tumor properties.
- Oyster mushrooms: Oyster mushrooms are safe for rabbits to eat and are a good source of protein. However, they should be given in small amounts and only occasionally.
Unsafe Mushrooms for Rabbits
There are many types of mushrooms that are unsafe for rabbits to eat, and some can be deadly. The following are some unsafe mushrooms that rabbits should never eat:
- Amanita mushrooms: Amanita mushrooms are one of the most deadly mushrooms in the world. They contain a toxin called amatoxin, which can cause liver and kidney failure. Amanita mushrooms are commonly found in the wild and can be mistaken for edible mushrooms.
- False morel mushrooms: False morel mushrooms contain a toxin called gyromitrin, which can cause liver damage and other health problems. False morel mushrooms are often found in the wild and can be mistaken for edible mushrooms.
- Death cap mushrooms: Death cap mushrooms are another deadly mushroom that contains the toxin amatoxin. They are commonly found in the wild and can be mistaken for edible mushrooms.
- Fly agaric mushrooms: Fly agaric mushrooms contain a toxin called muscimol, which can cause hallucinations, seizures, and even death. They are commonly found in the wild.
Risks of Giving Mushrooms to Rabbits
In its “Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration talks about mushroom poisoning in the following way:
Toxins like Gyromitrin, Amanitin, Ibotenic Acid, Muscarine, Orellanine, Psilocybin, Coprine, and Muscimol have been found in mushrooms and linked to the poisoning. Poisoning from mushrooms can come from both cooked and raw mushrooms because the chemicals that make them dangerous are not disrupted by heat.
Organ damage, diarrhea, vomiting, and nerve damage are the most common effects of eating poisonous mushrooms. Poisoning from mushrooms is hard to treat, and most of the time, it happens when someone accidentally eats a toxic species.
So, what does this all imply for rabbits? Even though we don’t know of any studies that specifically looked at rabbits and mushroom poisoning, vets say that mushrooms are bad for rabbits and you shouldn’t give them to your rabbit. Even if mushrooms are safe for humans to eat, they can still hurt your rabbit’s sensitive digestive system in a big way.
Your Rabbit Ate Mushrooms – What Now?
If your rabbit is outside and it eats wild mushrooms, you must act quickly to avoid terrible things happening. Grab a sample and immediately call your vet. Poisoning from mushrooms can happen quickly and needs to be treated ASAP to keep your rabbit from getting hurt.
Even if your rabbit ate a mushroom meant for cooking while it was in your house, you should call your vet immediately. Even though your rabbit is much less likely to die if it eats a common household mushroom than if it eats a wild mushroom, both can cause terrible stomach problems. If nothing is done, this can quickly make people sick or kill them.
Wild Mushroom Poisoning in Rabbits
Rabbits have not been studied a lot about how toxic mushrooms are. So, we must apply what we’ve learned from other studies on animals.
The NCBI says that the following mushrooms can make dogs sick or even kill them. People think that these kinds of mushrooms could also hurt cats and rabbits, which are often kept as pets.
The list given above is not a complete list of all the mushrooms that rabbits can’t eat. In addition to what has already been said, some research shows that button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) bought in stores cause cancer in rodents. So, we can guess that mushrooms may affect rabbits in the same way.
In fact, we still don’t know for sure which mushrooms are bad for rabbits. Because of this, it’s important that all mushrooms stay off the menu. That’s the only way to keep your pet rabbit safe.
Saving Your Rabbit from Mushroom Poisoning
Mycotoxicosis, which means poisoning, is known for being hard to treat. So, prevention is the most important thing. To keep rabbits from getting sick from eating too many mushrooms, keep in mind the following:
- Ensure the rabbit gets the basic nutrients it needs. Try to have a wide range of herbs and green vegetables as well. This should keep the rabbit from feeding on dangerous foods that she shouldn’t eat.
- If you have wild mushrooms growing in your front or back yard, it might be best to keep rabbits in a “run” instead of letting them run around in the garden.
- If the rabbit goes outside, look for mushrooms in the grass often. Remember that they often show up after it rains. Shortening the grass can help.
- Under trees is a common place for poisonous mushrooms to grow, so check this area often.
- Sterilizing your hands thoroughly before touching your rabbit is a must if you touch wild mushrooms. Since it can be hard to get rid of fungal spores from gardening gloves, it’s best not to use them.
- Don’t give your rabbit mushrooms from the store. Even though these mushrooms have a much lower level of toxins, we don’t fully understand how they can affect rabbits.
In conclusion, while some types of mushrooms are safe for rabbits to eat, there are many species that can be toxic and even deadly to them. It is important for rabbit owners to be aware of the potential risks associated with feeding mushrooms to their pets and to avoid doing so unless they are absolutely certain that the mushrooms are safe.
Austin completed his studies at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Tufts University. He holds a high amount of empathy and kindness towards people, nature and most importantly animals. Expressing his feelings in powerful words is one of his best qualities.
Like all of us, he is also an animal lover. He owns and adopted half a dozen of cats in his home. Adopting animals instead of buying them is always heavily encouraged by him.
Austin is also an animal activist. We are really happy to incorporate his ideas with our Author team and he’s also happy to join us and help with the things he knows so well.