Can rabbits eat mushrooms? Let’s find out!
You may enjoy sliced mushrooms on your pizza or soaked in garlic butter as a tasty side dish or appetizer. However, the foods that we enjoy and the foods that are suitable for your bunny are not necessarily the same.
Rabbits have evolved to thrive on a totally different diet to people and have different nutritional requirements. And that’s why it is so important to check before you share your own food with your bunny.
So, can pet rabbits have mushrooms? Are mushrooms safe for bunnies? Do rabbits eat mushrooms in the wild?
This article answers all these questions and more, so read on!
Can rabbits eat mushrooms?
The first thing you should know is that, although rabbits are vegetarian, they must not eat mushrooms of any kind or in any quantity.
Many species of mushrooms are toxic to both people and rabbits.
Rabbits cannot vomit. This means that they are unable to rid their bodies of toxins that are ingested, often resulting in death.
Some varieties of mushrooms may not kill your rabbit if eaten in small amounts, but they can cause long-term health problems, including liver and nervous system damage.
In any case, you will probably find that your bunny is not remotely interested in eating mushrooms! Rabbits much prefer fresh veggies to nibble on, such as carrots and greens.
Your bunny may instinctively know what’s safe for him to eat and what is poisonous. Never try to persuade your rabbit to eat any food that he does not want to!
Fun facts about mushrooms
Contrary to what some people believe, the mushroom is not a vegetable.
Mushrooms belong to the same family as fungi. In fact, mushrooms are the fruit of fungi, being the part of the organism that you see growing above ground level.
Many different species of mushrooms are safe to eat and can be found readily available in your local grocery store.
Toadstools are also varieties of fungi, although they can sometimes be mistaken for mushrooms.
Truffles are a form of fungi and are one of the most expensive gourmet food ingredients in the world! Specially trained pigs and “truffle hounds” are used to find and unearth this subterranean species of fungi.
There are estimated to be over 1.5 million varieties of fungi and mushrooms found across the world!
What’s so good about mushrooms?
Mushrooms are low in fat and calories. They are also cholesterol-free and contain a small amount of fiber. In addition, mushrooms contain over a dozen vitamins and minerals, including potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, and several B vitamins.
Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants such as glutathione and selenium. These substances are believed to provide protection to the body’s cells from damage, to reduce inflammation and chronic disease.
However, the nutrient profile of the humble mushroom depends largely on the species and on how it was cultivated.
All these benefits may lead you to wonder; can bunnies eat mushrooms and should I include them in my pet’s diet?
Although wild rabbits have been observed nibbling on some varieties of fungi, they do not generally eat them as a major part of their diet, and they do not actively seek out mushrooms and toadstools as a primary food source.
Rabbits derive all their nutritional requirements from good-quality forage and veggies.
Many varieties of wild mushrooms are poisonous
If your bunny is allowed access to your garden, be sure to check for mushrooms and toadstools before you allow him outside to play. Fungi can spring up overnight, so always check your lawn for them, especially during the spring and fall months when they emerge from below ground.
Keep your grass mown short or fence off a bunny play area away from long grass that could conceal toadstools, especially in damp areas underneath trees and bushes.
Species of wild mushrooms that are known to be toxic to people, rabbits, and to other animals such as cats include:
- Fly Agaric
- Psilocybin (“magic” mushrooms)
Has your bunny been poisoned?
While he’s enjoying some exercise and fresh air, your rabbit may accidentally consume part of a tiny toadstool while he’s browsing on your lawn.
So, how do you know if your bunny has eaten a poisonous mushroom?
If your rabbit has been poisoned, he may appear depressed, lethargic, and listless. He may sit huddled in his hutch, showing no inclination to eat or drink.
Your rabbit’s body temperature may become very low or very high, as the neurological area in his brain struggles to regulate his temperature due to the effects of the poison.
Depending on the nature of the poison, your rabbit may begin to lose the use of his hind legs or he may have seizures.
Take immediate action!
If you think that your bunny has eaten mushrooms and is showing signs of poisoning, do not delay!
Take your pet to your vet RIGHT AWAY!
Phone ahead to alert your vet of your rabbit’s condition.
If possible, quickly collect a sample of the fungi that your bunny has eaten and take it with you to the vet clinic. Different toxins require different treatment, and important time can be saved if your vet can see what your bunny has eaten.
Diagnosis and treatment
Your vet will first examine your rabbit. Blood samples may be taken, but if your pet is suffering a severe reaction to the poison, the vet will start treatment right away.
Your vet will take action to prevent more toxin from being absorbed into the rabbit’s bloodstream and organs. In some cases, activated charcoal, gastric pumping or a stomach lavage may be used to eliminate the toxins and any remaining bits of fungi from the rabbit’s stomach.
If your rabbit is severely affected and has cardiac or breathing abnormalities, emergency measures will be used to maintain life, such as cardiac massage and artificial respiration.
If your rabbit receives prompt treatment and has not eaten too great a quantity of the toxic mushroom, he should make a full recovery. However, in more serious cases, your bunny may be hospitalized for a few days until he is well enough to go home.
Should rabbits ever be given mushrooms?
In conclusion, mushrooms of any kind should NEVER be given to rabbits.
Mushrooms are potentially poisonous and are not something that rabbits would actively seek out as a food source in nature.
So, while you may feel free to enjoy mushrooms on your pizza, in your pasta, or as a side dish swimming in garlic butter, your beloved pet rabbit need not feel left out.
Treat your bunny to a portion of crunchy, healthy raw carrots instead!
Can Rabbits Eat Mushrooms – References
- Dacombe, A. (2013). “Feeding Rabbits.” Veterinary Centre.
- University of Tartu. “Number of fungal species has been greatly overestimated.” Science Daily.
- Rabin, R. C. (2018). “What is the Health and Nutritional Value of Mushrooms?” New York Times.
- Course Hero. Chemistry of Food, CHEM 181.
- PedMD, Poisoning in Rabbits.