It’s time to look at an important question. Can rats eat mushrooms?
Everyone wants their pet rat to be happy and healthy. And diet plays a huge part in this!
In order for your pet rats to be healthy, they simply must have a balanced diet. This means that on top of their usual rat food, they must also eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
However, this is where things get perplexing. Not all fruits and veggies are safe for your pet rats to eat. This can be very confusing for rat owners.
On one hand, you want to provide your rats with plenty of veggies, but on the other hand, choosing which veggies to give can be bewildering!
What about mushrooms in particular? Can rats eat mushrooms?
Luckily, that’s exactly why we’ve written this article!
We’ll explore what exactly mushrooms contain, and what rats should specifically be eating. Then, we’ll use this information to see if mushrooms are a good choice for rats.
What Are Mushrooms?
A mushroom, also called a toadstool, is a fleshy, fruiting fungus. They typically grow above the ground on soil or on their food source.
There are countless types of mushrooms, all of which have different nutritional values and toxicity levels. Some mushrooms are perfectly okay to eat, while others are deadly even to humans!
The most common edible types of mushrooms eaten by humans are the white mushroom, the brown mushroom, and the portobello mushroom.
White mushrooms contain 50% carbs, 13% fats, and 37% protein. They are also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, Zinc and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin D, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium.
Brown mushrooms contain around 60% carbs, 3% fats, and 37% protein. Similar to the white mushroom, they are also very high in Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.
Portobello mushrooms contain about 69% carbs, 6% fats, and 25% protein. As you can see, they are lower in protein than the other mushrooms discussed. However, they are still a good source for many of the nutrients already mentioned.
Now that we have a quick understanding of what nutrients various common mushrooms contain, let’s look at what pet rats should be eating.
Can Rats Eat Mushrooms As Part Of Their Diet
Rats need a healthy, balanced diet. This can be done pretty easily by feeding your pet rat a quality, balanced pelleted diet specifically formulated for rats.
It is important to feed pet rats food specifically designed for rats, not a food designed to feed other animals – even if they are similar. Rats simply must be fed a pelleted formula specifically designed for rats in order to ensure complete nutrition.
Drinking water is also extremely important for rats. Without a constant, fresh source of water, rats can get extremely sick very quickly.
Refill water bottles as often as necessary and to ensure that the bottles are not blocked or leaking.
However, a varied diet can also help increase a rat’s overall health. Rats are omnivores, and therefore can be fed both plant and animal products.
Still, foods containing lots of fat should be avoided. Rats are notorious for easily becoming overweight. Because of this, it is important to avoid sugary and high-fat foods.
Rats and High-Fat Foods
All species of rats are extremely vulnerable to diet-induced obesity.
On study found that increased fat and sugar intake can also lead to insulin resistance in rats as well as other animals. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes if left uncorrected.
Furthermore, a high fat diet can also raise the risk for cardiovascular health problems. This is due largely to the increased chance for diabetes, which causes cardiovascular problems, and the increased odds for obesity, which can also cause cardiovascular symptoms.
Luckily, as we’ve seen, mushrooms are actually generally low in fats. This potentially makes them a great treat. However, there is one more topic we need to discuss first – toxicity.
Are Mushrooms Toxic to Rats?
There are LOTS of different kinds of mushrooms. Some are completely safe, and some are extremely toxic.
So how do you tell the difference?
Well, mushrooms that are commonly consumed by humans are okay for rats to eat. If you can find it in a grocery store, it isn’t toxic for your pet rat.
However, there is really no way to tell if some random mushroom growing in your yard is okay for your pet. You could, of course, learn to identify mushrooms, learn about their toxicity, and then make a judgment from there.
Still though, the risk is just too large to allow you pet rat to eat a mushroom that you aren’t completely able to identify.
For this reason, you should only feed your rat mushrooms that are sold for human consumption.
Can Rats Eat Mushrooms And Have Benefits?
Now that we’ve made it clear which mushrooms are okay for rats to eat, let’s take a look at some of the possible benefits of feeding mushrooms to your beloved pet.
Many cultures, including those of East Asian countries, have a long tradition of using mushrooms medicinally. However, only recently has the scientific community began to look at them for their pharmaceutical potential.
And what a surprise the scientific community has come across! The benefits of mushrooms discovered so far are that they are anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, hypocholesterolemic, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, anti-allergic, nephroprotective, and have anti-microbial agents.
The anti-cancer role, in particular, is important to draw your attention to. Specifically speaking, this property has been shown to be true in pet rats particularly.
Mushrooms have been scientifically proven to decrease the size of cancer tumors in rats.
How to Feed Rats Mushrooms
As we have seen, the answer to “Can rats eat mushrooms?” is yes! Rats can eat mushrooms, and they should, as an occasional treat.
Mushrooms can be extremely beneficial to rats.
Interested in feeding your rat mushrooms? Read ahead to learn how to make that happen.
Mushrooms should be part of your rat’s normal rations. In other words, they should replace a small portion of their usual foods, not be fed in addition to their normal meal.
This prevents obesity and overeating.
Furthermore, you should feed your rat mushrooms only after washing and lightly cooking them. This isn’t, technically, completely necessary.
These two steps might take a little longer, but they ensure that your rat isn’t exposed to unnecessary pathogens.
You should also offer mushrooms only occasionally. Remember, a balanced diet is important.
Mushrooms do not meet all of your rats’ nutritional needs and therefore should not be the bulk of their caloric intake.
Plus, you should always feed mushrooms using an open bowl and remove all uneaten food after your rat has lost interest.
Can Rats Eat Mushrooms? – A Summary
As we have discussed, rats can eat all the same mushrooms that humans can consume. However, just like with people, some variations of mushrooms are toxic.
Because of this, you should only feed your pet rat mushrooms that you would eat yourself.
However, mushrooms actually have a number of health benefits for rats. They have been shown to decrease the size of cancer tumors.
They also contain very little fat, which prevents putting your beloved rat at risk for obesity and other health problems associated with a high fat diet.
Mushrooms really are a great, occasional addition to your rat’s diet in order to spice things up a little bit!
Have you ever given your rat mushrooms? How did he or she like it? Let us know in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
SELF Nutrition Data (2014). Mushrooms, white, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.
Self Nutrition Data, Mushrooms, brown, Italian, or Crimini, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.
SELF Nutrition Data. Mushrooms, portabella, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, A healthy diet for rats.
Marques et al (2015). High-fat diet-induced obesity Rat model: a comparison between Wistar and Sprague-Dawley Rat. Adipocyte, 5.
Lozano, I. et al (2016). High-fructose and high-fat diet-induced disorders in rats: impact on diabetes risk, hepatic and vascular complications. Nutrition & Metabolism, 13.
Patel, S. and Goyal, A (2012). Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. Biotech, 2.