Can Guinea Pigs eat mushrooms?
Is it safe?
Are mushrooms good for them?
I love mushrooms. Whether they’re fresh, baked, fried or stuffed, mushrooms are a delicious, healthy food.
Which begs the question, “If I love mushrooms so much, will my little furry friend love them too?”
In this article you will find out the answers to these questions and more.
Interesting Mushroom Facts
Mushrooms don’t fall into one of our normal basic food groups.
Although commonly treated like a vegetable, mushrooms are actually a fungus.
There are over 2,000 edible varieties of mushrooms.
Of course, you won’t find all of these in your local grocery store.
The most common types of mushrooms are white button, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster and enoki.
Since mushrooms can be farmed indoors, with little impact to the planet, they are considered a sustainable food source. Many mushroom farms are actually family owned businesses.
Nutrients Found in Mushrooms
The exact amount of each nutrient will vary by the type of mushroom, but the general make-up is the same across the most common edible varieties.
Mushrooms are fat-free, and low in sodium, which makes them an excellent flavor addition to lots of dishes, from salads to tacos.
Mushrooms are a good source of niacin, pantothenic acid, copper and selenium.
They are also a great source of riboflavin.
Since mushrooms have some nutrient qualities similar to vegetables, they are often grouped with them in food guides, Butthey can also be a good source of protein and are sometimes used as a meat substitute.
Some people enjoy a delicious portobello mushroom burger as a vegetarian replacement for a traditional hamburger.
If they are seared or oven roasted, they tend to have a meatier texture, which enhances their ability to be a viable meat substitute.
Nutrients Needed by Guinea Pigs
Now we know what nutrients mushrooms contain.
The next question is, “Are these some of the nutrients our little piglets need to consume?”
Everything a Guinea Pig needs for a healthy diet is fresh water, an unlimited supply of grass hay, and a daily dose of vitamin C.
Guinea Pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C, so they need to eat something every day that will supply it for them. This is most commonly provided through fresh green vegetables such as kale, parsley or broccoli.
Guinea Pigs are also commonly given pellets, which are a combination of vitamins, minerals and grass hay, but they’re not a replacement for fresh sources of vitamin C of for fresh hay.
Guinea Pigs are herbivores, which means they are vegetarians. They don’t need or want to eat meat or dairy products.
No yummy cheese for these little rodents!
Are Mushrooms Safe for Guinea Pigs?
There are up to 80 varieties of wild mushrooms that are poisonous.
These are definitely not safe for your little piglet or for you to ingest.
As it can be difficult to distinguish safe wild mushrooms from toxic ones, your best bet is to stay away from wild mushrooms altogether.
What about cultivated (non-wild) mushrooms?
The question is, “Can they be a delicious treat, or are they dangerous?”
It’s a simple question, but there seem to be contradictory answers.
The Guinea Pig Manual lists mushrooms on their “Food to Avoid at All Costs” list.
However, I could not find any research to back this up.
In fact, Guinea Pigs have been used in several research studies related to mushrooms.
If mushrooms were harmful to Guinea Pigs, they would not make very good allergic reaction test subjects.
Therefore, it does not appear that normal, grocery store mushrooms are toxic to Guinea Pigs.
That still doesn’t mean they’re a good idea.
Are Mushrooms Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Mushrooms are good for humans, and delicious, so of course it’s natural to wonder if they can also be good for our favorite little companions.
Can Guinea Pigs have mushrooms?
They’re similar to vegetables, and some vegetables are good for Guinea Pigs, but are mushrooms?
While the most common forms of mushrooms (button, white, portobello) do not appear to be toxic to Guinea Pigs, they’re not exactly good for them either.
Mushrooms are not high in vitamin C.
This means that they aren’t something that should be a regular part of your Guinea Pig’s normal diet, as they don’t provide any nutritional benefit for your little guy or girl.
Due to this, you definitely won’t find mushrooms on any recommended food list for Guinea Pigs.
If Guinea Pigs eat mushrooms, it means they’re filling their little bellies with food that, although yummy, does not provide the nutrition they need.
This means, they have less room and desire to eat the foods they need to be healthy.
One of two things will happen if your furry little friend is filling up on non-nutritional foods, like mushrooms.
The first possibility is that they still eat all they need of the right stuff, but now they gain weight from all the extra food.
The second possibility is that they don’t eat enough of the good stuff since they’re full, and their health starts to deteriorate.
When Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mushrooms?
Letting guinea pigs eat anything outside of their staple diet needs to be limited to an occasional treat, in order to keep them healthy.
Just like with humans and junk food, a little bit might be okay, but too much is bad for our health.
So when can Guinea Pigs have mushrooms?
Guinea pigs can have white mushrooms, button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms as long as they are raw, in small quantities, and only fed once in a while.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raw Mushrooms?
Guinea pigs are truly little piggies in the sense that they love to eat.
Therefore, they are likely to enjoy the new flavor and texture of mushrooms as a change of pace.
However, make sure your guinea pig mushrooms are always raw.
Guinea Pigs can eat raw mushrooms, but they cannot eat them cooked.
Be sure to avoid any cooked mushrooms, including any cooked mushroom concoctions, such as mushroom soup or mushroom risotto.
Symptoms of a Guinea Pig Eating Dangerous Mushrooms
If your Guinea Pig ate wild mushrooms, or cooked mushrooms, then he or she could become ill.
If you think your Guinea Pig has eaten something they shouldn’t have, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Your vet will ask you questions about what may have been eaten, how much, and when.
He or she will let you know if you need to bring your pet in right away, or if there is a home treatment option.
If your little pet was somehow outside eating mushrooms in the wild (then can be found even in a fenced in backyard after all), if there are any left, make sure you pick them, wrap them in a paper towel and then put them in a paper bag to bring with you to the vet.
Understanding what is wrong with your pet and how to treat it can vary depending on the type of wild mushroom ingested.
Here are some signs your little pal has ingested something it shouldn’t have:
- Trouble breathing
- A fast pulse
- A skin rash
Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Can Guinea Pigs eat mushrooms?” is “Yes, but…”
Yes, but the mushrooms need to be raw.
Yes, but only if they’re white, button, or portabella mushrooms.
Yes, but they can only be given in small portions.
Yes, but they can only be given infrequently.
Considering there are so many “buts” to consider, and that mushrooms don’t give your little piglet anything they really need, the question becomes, is it a good idea to give your guinea pig mushrooms, even if they aren’t harmful?
Ultimately, that decision is yours. However, if you’re looking for a scrumptious treat for your little furry friend, he and you both might enjoy it more if you pick something that is delicious and healthy.
When Angel Alvarado, a licensed Veterinary Technician answering questions at PetCoach, was asked if it’s a good idea to feed mushrooms to Guinea Pigs, his response was, “Your best choice is to avoid feeding them to your pigs.”
After all, we want the best for our little buddies, and that just might mean more mushrooms for me!
References and Additional Reading
Alvarado, A. Can guinea pigs eat mushrooms. Petcoach.co. 2018
Feeney, M. J., Miller, A. M., Roupas, P. (2014). Mushrooms – Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique. Nutrition Today.
Foster & Smith (2017). Poisonous Plants for Small Pets. Petco Wellness, LLC.
Jiang, Y. et al (2014). Development of Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) polysaccharides injection formulation. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.
Petruzzello, M. (2018). 7 of the World’s Most Poisonous Mushrooms. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Schachter, E. N., et al (2015). Pharmacological Study of Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus Ostreatus) Extract on Isolated Guinea Pig Trachea Smooth Muscle. Lung.