Can bearded dragons eat mushrooms? Edible mushrooms have been consumed by humans since the ancient times. They are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibers which are all beneficial to human health.
A simple answer is NO – Bearded dragons should not eat mushrooms at all. Although mushrooms contain essential nutrients, they’re toxic to reptiles including bearded dragons. That’s because of their high acidity levels and their unbalanced calcium to phosphorous ratio.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mushrooms: Details
Although mushrooms have a myriad of health benefits to your bearded dragons, you should never allow them to eat even small quantities.
Here are three reasons why mushrooms are not good for bearded dragons: Read also; Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?
1. Disproportionate Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
Calcium to phosphorus ratio is an important concept that every bearded dragon owner should know. The concept is applied with regard to the amount of calcium and phosphorous that your bearded dragon should consume.
The recommend calcium to phosphorous ratio for bearded dragons is 2:1 or 1:1. But the ratio of calcium to phosphorous in mushrooms doesn’t fall anywhere near this. For instance the ratio in portabella mushrooms is 1:16.3.
Therefore, feeding your bearded dragon with mushrooms isn’t good for their health. The unbalanced Ca:P ratio in mushrooms interferes with calcium absorption in the beardie’s body. This results in calcium deficiency which in turn leads to problems such as metabolic bone disease, muscle weakness and inability of blood to clot.
When the amount of phosphorous exceeds calcium, phosphorous reacts with calcium to form calcium phosphate which is difficult to absorb in the gut. What bearded dragons eat.
2. Contains Oxalic Acid
Presence of oxalic acid in mushrooms can decrease calcium levels in the bearded dragon body. Oxalates react with calcium to create an insoluble and indigestible compound known as calcium oxalate (CaC2O4). As a result calcium which is an essential mineral in the beardie’s body is greatly reduced.
To make for the low calcium levels, the body tends to get calcium from available sources such as bones. This leads a condition called metabolic bone disease where bones become soft and weak.
Signs of metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons include deformed limbs, arched spine, limping, bone fracture, lethargy among others.
Related: Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons
3. Mushroom Toxicity
Although some mushrooms are included in human diet, there’re a few species of toxic mushrooms. They are potentially harmful to both humans and animals including bearded dragons when accidentally ingested.
Out of the common mushroom species, only a few species are lethal. Many others will only lead to noticeable symptoms when ingested by humans or animals. Distinguishing between edible and poisonous mushrooms is extremely difficult because they share a lot of similarities.
That’s why misidentification is the leading cause of mushroom poisoning in humans.
Mushrooms can grow anywhere there’s high moisture content including the yard, garden, basement, garage and so on. To avoid accidental ingestion by your bearded dragon, kids or other animals it’s advisable to get rid of any wild mushrooms.
Some of the common toxic mushrooms include:
- Amanita phalloides
- Amanita muscaria
- Amanita pantherina
- Scleroderma citrinum
Related: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cabbage?
Symptoms of Mushroom Poisoning in Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are usually confined to their tanks or terrarium. However, some beardie’s owners may once in a while take their pets outdoors to get some warmth from the sunlight. If your bearded dragon accidentally eats poisonous mushrooms in the yard, it may fall sick within a short time or even die.
Symptoms of mushroom poisoning vary depending on the pet’s vulnerability and the mushroom species. Below are some symptoms to look for in case your bearded dragon or other pets accidentally eats toxic mushrooms:
Gastrointestinal Irritation (GI): It is the first sign of mushroom poisoning and may entail diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms occur within 6 hours and may last up to 24 hours. However, if GI is not accompanied by other symptoms, it’s an indication of mild poisoning. Thus, it may not require major veterinary intervention.
Muscarinic Effects and GI: If gastrointestinal irritation is accompanied by muscarinic effects such as pupil constriction, tear production and drooling, these could be signs of a more serious poisoning. In this case, your bearded dragon needs veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Muscarinic Effects, GI plus Lethargy and Depression: Apart from the muscarinic effects and gastrointestinal irritation, severe symptoms like lack of energy, depression, bleeding and seizures. Eyes and the mucus membrane may turn yellow indicating possible liver damage.
These could be symptoms of Amanita phalloides mushrooms popularly known as death cap. Symptoms begin from six hours and may last up to 20 hours. Serious clinical attention is required to avoid fatality.
Hallucinogenic Syndrome: Though nontoxic the ‘magic mushroom’ causes hallucinogenic symptoms such as staggering, seizure, depression, muscle problems or coma in severe cases. Since these mushrooms are illegal, it’s unlikely to find them in someone’s yard.
The only possible place your pet may pick ‘magic mushroom’ is from the trash. If such symptoms are observed, serious veterinary intervention is required.
How to Prevent/Deal with Mushroom Poisoning
Mushrooms grow anywhere as long as there’s high moisture content. They can grow in the yard and damp places like in the garage, basement.
When you take your bearded dragon outdoors – keep them caged, there’re chances of ingesting toxic stuff including mushrooms. Here are tips for preventing/dealing with mushroom poisoning.
- Remove any mushrooms that are growing in your home. Common areas to check for mushroom growth include the yard, flower garden, near wood piles, outdoor water points and so on.
- Ensure your bearded dragon does not stray to the garden or yard.
- If you cannot immediately identify a mushroom, treat it as toxic. Therefore, you should contact your vet in case of suspected mushroom ingestion.
- If you can locate a piece of the ingested mushroom, take it with you to the veterinary.
- If the bearded dragon defecates or vomits after mushroom ingestion, take with you a sample of the poop or vomit to the animal clinic.
Although edible mushrooms can be consumed by humans, they shouldn’t be given to bearded dragons.
The high acidity levels and unbalanced calcium to phosphorous ratio in mushrooms can lead to deteriorated health in your bearded dragon. In addition, some mushrooms are very poisonous which makes them unfit for bearded dragons.