Can Squirrels Eat Mushrooms? Why They Love Fungi

can squirrels eat mushrooms

You’re doing some yard work around your home and you notice small nibbles taken out of some of your mushrooms. Your first thought is can squirrels eat mushrooms and is that what’s eating my shrooms?

Can Squirrels Eat Mushrooms?

Absolutely, squirrels love eating mushrooms, grass, plant stalks, roots, and etc. Squirrels are omnivores, which means that they can eat both animals and plants. According to Dr. John Rippon, squirrels have adapted to their environment, which allows them to eat all types of mushrooms, even the ones that contain the deadly amanita-toxins without being affected.

If you have mushrooms in your backyard, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some squirrels foraging them. Squirrels that live off these fungi, will usually live in highly wooded or forested areas that don’t have a lot of humans living nearby.

So let’s take a closer look at the type of mushrooms squirrels love to eat. Read this article if you want to know the types of foods squirrels love to eat.

What Are Mushrooms?

can squirrels eat mushrooms
Squirrels can eat all types of mushrooms, even the poisonous ones.

At the time of this writing, there are over 10,000 different types of mushrooms. They are a type of fungus, that lives in the soil. If the conditions are right, they will grow like desert flowers blooming after a rain.

The part that you see above the ground is the part that produces and disperses spores. Each spore is capable of sending out a hypha that will develop into a group of its own mycelium.

Mushrooms grow best in shade and tend to grow near trees or shrubs.

If you have them growing in your backyard, it’s a sign that your yard contains a lot of organic material in the soil.

Are Mushrooms Safe For Squirrels?

Yes, squirrels have no problem eating wild mushrooms or the store-bought variety. They love eating these fungi and you can easily see them nibbling or carrying it back to their den if you’re in a place that has lots of mushrooms.

What Are Amina Phalloids Found In Mushrooms?

amanita muscaria poisonous mushroom
There are several mushrooms that are poisonous and extremely toxic to humans.

Amanita phalloides also known as (the death cap mushroom) is a deadly toxin found in poisonous mushrooms. These species of mushrooms contain three deadly toxins known as virotoxins, amatoxins, and phallotoxins. These mushrooms are extremely poisonous and can be fatal if consumed by humans.

About 20% of mushrooms are poisonous and 1% are deadly.

This is the reason that you shouldn’t pick the mushrooms in the wild and eat them. You never know which mushrooms are poisonous or not.

According to our research, here are 7 of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world.

  • Podostroma cornu-damae)
  • Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
  • Destroying Angels (Amanita species)
  • Conocybe filaris
  • Deadly Dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata)
  • Autumn Skullcap (Galerina marginata)
  • Webcaps (Cortinarius species)

Some people think that cooking removes the toxins from the mushrooms. However, that’s not true, the toxins remain whether they are cooked or raw.

So never eat a wild mushroom, especially if you’re not sure if it’s poisonous or not.

What Kind Of Mushrooms Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrels will eat any type of mushrooms they can find in their natural habitat. I’m not sure if they have a preference of which one tastes best, but it’s not unusual to see them eating all types of mushrooms, even the poisonous ones.

Do Squirrels Eat Wild Mushrooms?

Yes, as mentioned above, squirrels have adapted to eating all types of mushrooms, even the poisonous ones.

If squirrels live near a forest or wooded area, there will be plenty of mushrooms and other fungi for them to feed off of.

Do Red Squirrels Eat Mushrooms?

squirrel carrying mushroom to babies
It’s not unusual to see a squirrel carrying a mushroom back to their den to feed their babies.

Yes, they love them. It’s not unusual to see a red squirrel gathering wet mushrooms and laying it in the sun to dry. They dry them before storing them for winter storage.

Do Gray Squirrels Eat Mushrooms?

Like the red and flying squirrels, the gray ones also enjoy eating mushrooms. Studies have shown that squirrels can consume upwards of 60 different varieties of plants.

It’s not hard to tell if a squirrel has been eating the mushrooms in your backyard. If you look closely, you will see some of your mushrooms knocked over with pieces strewn in your backyard.

You may also be able to see some toothmarks on the mushroom left behind by the hungry squirrel.

Here’s a video that shows a mushroom that was laid out in the sun to dry by either a red or gray squirrel.

Should You Feed Mushrooms To Squirrels?

If you have a squirrel feeder and enjoy feeding your backyard wildlife, I would personally avoid feeding them mushrooms.

Squirrels are natural foragers and even though they come to feed at your feeder, you should let them forage for their own mushrooms. If you live in an area where mushrooms are plentiful, they won’t have trouble finding them.

Final Word On Squirrels Eating Fungi

If you see squirrels eating the mushrooms in your yard, it’s totally okay. They love eating these fungi and will do anything they can to get their little paws on them.

Your main concern should be changing the conditions in your yard to avoid mushrooms from growing in the first place.

References And Further Reading

For. Gov. BC. CA – What Is A Mushroom?

NCBI – Vetter J – Toxins of Amanita Phalloides

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