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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mushrooms? What You Need to Know
Just in case you have forgotten, your guinea pigs are probably starving and need you to feed them ASAP. At least that is what they want you to think every time they squeal nonstop to get food. Next time you are looking to spice up their snack time, you can feed your guinea pigs mushrooms, a snack that is completely safe and nutritious on occasion.
Since cavies love to get their teeth into just about any food, they will love to try out some new fresh mushrooms. They have an interesting texture that guinea pigs tend to really enjoy. Plus, many mushrooms come with key nutrients that all guinea pigs need. However, not all mushrooms are safe, and they shouldn’t be fed to cavies too often.
To find out more about guinea pigs eating mushrooms, read on. In this article, we’ll go over everything related to mushrooms and guinea pigs, including when you can feed them mushrooms, key nutrients in mushrooms, and signs that your guinea pig got ahold of a poisonous wild mushroom.
Are Mushrooms Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Whether mushrooms are safe for your guinea pigs depends on the type of mushroom entirely. There are types of mushrooms that grow in the wild that are poisonous, both for you and your piggy. Obviously, poisonous mushrooms are not safe for your guinea pig to consume.
Still, there are cultivated mushrooms that are super delicious, nutritious, and non-poisonous. Generally speaking, white, button, and portobello mushrooms are all safe for guinea pigs to eat. It is important that these mushrooms are fed raw, not cooked.
Though it may sound like a minor detail, guinea pigs cannot eat cooked mushrooms, or any cooked foods for that matter. They simply cannot digest it since their bodies have not evolved to handle cooked vegetables. If you feed them cooked vegetables or food, they will likely become very ill.
Moderation Is Key
Just because your guinea pigs can eat mushrooms does not mean that you should feed it to them all the time. Mushrooms do not come with many nutrients that guinea pigs need. For example, mushrooms are not high in vitamin C, which is a crucial vitamin for your guinea pigs.
For this reason, you don’t want to fill up your guinea pig’s belly on foods that don’t necessarily nourish them as well as other foods. Feeding your cavy the occasional mushroom as a treat will send them jumping for joy without destroying their diet either.
One of the best times to feed your guinea pig a mushroom is whenever they’re screaming midday, but you don’t actually want to feed them an entire meal.
Are Mushrooms Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Interestingly, there seems to be a bit of contention about whether or not mushrooms are bad for guinea pigs. If you look on other sites, some claim that mushrooms are unsafe for guinea pigs. I could not find any research to back this up, though.
Not to mention, many items with mushrooms are tested on guinea pigs before they’re sold to humans. If mushrooms were poisonous to guinea pigs, they wouldn’t make good testers since it’s already known that they are allergic to them. For this reason, it seems that mushrooms are safe for guinea pigs to eat, within reason.
Mushrooms That Are Bad for Guinea Pigs
As we already learned, there are quite a few poisonous mushrooms. These mushrooms are very bad for guinea pigs. Because of how small guinea pigs are, even a little bit of a poisonous mushroom can kill them. Because it’s hard to know which wild mushrooms are poisonous, we recommend avoiding wild mushrooms completely.
Additionally, mushrooms are bad for guinea pigs if you feed them too much. Once again, mushrooms are not as nutritious for guinea pigs as some other vegetables. In many ways, mushrooms to guinea pigs are what potatoes are to us. They are delicious, but they aren’t super nutritious, meaning that they will easily cause guinea pigs to gain weight if not fed in moderation.
Lastly, cooked mushrooms are also bad for guinea pigs because guinea pigs have no way of digesting cooked vegetables. Feed them raw mushrooms instead.
Beyond these three stipulations, mushrooms are not bad for guinea pigs. Still, you won’t often see mushrooms listed as vegetables you absolutely must feed your Guinea pig. Simply feed them non-poisonous raw mushrooms on occasion as a surprising treat.
Nutrients in Mushrooms that Guinea Pigs Need
The exact nutrient count in any mushroom will depend on the mushroom type. Nevertheless, all edible mushrooms are very similar in composition, meaning that they have comparable nutrients and health information.
Most notably, all mushrooms are low in sodium and fat free. They also have a couple other key nutrients, such as copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and selenium. Mushrooms have a meatier texture and protein too, despite not having any meat, making them much more fibrous than other vegetables.
Generally speaking, most mushrooms are not high in key nutrients that guinea pigs need. Once again, vitamin C is the most important nutrient to feed your guinea pig, and mushrooms have almost no vitamin C.
Despite this fact, mushrooms do have a few nutrients that are very helpful for guinea pigs. For example, some protein is needed for growth, as well as selenium, niacin, and riboflavin. Mushrooms are high in all four of these things, especially in comparison to some other vegetables.
The fact that mushrooms are fat free and low in sodium makes them much healthier for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs need very little fat and very little sodium. Too much of either can cause a lot of health issues down the road.
Although you should not feed mushrooms to your guinea pigs as the sole vegetable for key nutrients, they are a nutritious treat. Snacks full of nutrients are much healthier than commercial snacks that are loaded with sugar and a number of other ingredients that your cavy does not need.
What If My Guinea Pig Ate Wild Mushrooms?
As a good guinea pig owner, you won’t feed poisonous mushrooms to your piggy. If you allow your guinea pigs outside time, though, they might take a bite or two of a mushroom they find on the ground. Unlike some other animals, guinea pigs are not likely to notice that they should not eat something.
If you believe your guinea pig has consumed a poisonous mushroom or anything else they shouldn’t have, call your exotic veterinarian immediately. Expect your veterinarian to ask you important questions, like what they have eaten, quantity, and time frame.
In extreme cases, your veterinarian may ask you to bring in your piggie for treatment. If this is the case for you, pick the mushroom your guinea pig was eating and wrap it in a paper towel to bring to your vet for inspection. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary, and you’ll be able to treat the guinea pig at home by yourself.
Signs of Poisoning
Something that’s a bit challenging with guinea pigs is that it can be difficult to spot when they are sick. As prey animals, they have the incredible skill to mask whenever they’re feeling below the weather so that they aren’t more of a target. Because of this fact, you will need to pay extra attention to your guinea pig’s habits to determine if they have ingested something poisonous.
We recommend tracking your guinea pig’s eating behaviors, stool, and energy levels even when they are healthy. This will make it much easier to spot an issue whenever one of these categories change due to illness. Energy levels and dietary habits are the top indicators of a sickness in our piggies.
If you have a couple extra slices of mushrooms to spare, feel free to throw them in with your guinea pigs. Although you should not feed mushrooms to guinea pigs often, they make a great treat because of their nutrients and unique texture.
Just make sure not to feed your guinea pig any wild mushrooms since they can be poisonous. Additionally, don’t overfeed your guinea pigs on mushrooms because that may fill them up before they can eat vegetables filled with nutrients they need. More so, do not feed them cooked mushrooms or else they will get sick.
So long as you feed them mushrooms that are raw and safe on occasion, your guinea pigs will absolutely love the treat, though their squeaking for treats may get worse as a result!
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Featured image credit: Couleur, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.