Mushrooms are delicious, they are seen as a delicacy and can be eaten in a variety of ways in a variety of dishes. Mushrooms are not only loved by humans but by animals as well.
This delicacy is a fungus, fungi are very high in nutrients and minerals. Unfortunately, not every animal can enjoy this fungus. There are a couple of mushrooms that are poisonous. So do squirrels eat mushrooms?
Squirrels do eat mushrooms, all types of mushrooms, they love mushrooms. These fungi are packed with vitamins and minerals, are naturally found in squirrel habitats, and are a staple of the squirrel diet. Squirrels can even eat some poisonous mushrooms like the death cap mushroom and not be negatively affected by it.
Do squirrels eat mushrooms?
Yes, squirrels do eat mushrooms. These tiny bushy-tailed and adorable animals are omnivores. They will eat both plant and animal mater deepening on what’s available.
When food is scarce, in the winter, they eat food buried in the previous seasons when food was in abundance. They can eat a pound of food a week and their diet can consist of foods like seeds, fruits, nuts, small insects, young snakes, and even fungi.
Nutritional benefits of mushrooms:
Mushrooms offer humans and squirrels a plethora of vitamins and minerals. Mushrooms contain fiber and protein. They also contain B vitamins, vitamin D, and the antioxidant selenium.
Selenium is beneficial to squirrels as it supports the squirrel’s immune system and ensures that cells and tissue are protected from damage.
What about poisonous mushrooms?
Some mushrooms that squirrels eat contain deadly amanita-toxins. The Amanita phalloides (the death cap mushroom) is one such mushroom. Each mushroom contains enough amanita toxin to easily poison a squirrel.
In this mushroom, the amanitin is bound tightly to a glycoprotein molecule.
If a human were to eat this mushroom the enzymes in our gut separate the amanitin and the glycoprotein. The glycoprotein is excreated and the amanitin is left in our bodies and enters into the bloodstream. It then poisons us
When squirrels eat this mushroom poisoning does not happen. Squirrels have a lining in their gut. This lining contains toxin-compatible glycoprotein molecules.
The gut enzymes still break up the mushroom’s amanitin-glycoprotein molecule but when broken up the amanitin binds to the squirrel’s glycoprotein molecules.
After this happens the toxin is excreted and thus does not enter the bloodstream.
Ecological benefits of squirrels eating mushrooms
Mushrooms ensure that a variety of plants grow and flourish. Squirrels eating mushrooms is good for the ecosystem, these mammals help spread mushroom spores.
Squirrels eat a lot of mushrooms. When the mushrooms pass through the squirrel the spores of the mushrooms, (which are the reproductive parts), enter into the feces of the squirrels.
As squirrels pass their feces elsewhere the feces fall onto the soil. These spores germinate and grow into new fungi, new mushrooms. These then help new plants grow.
What kind of mushrooms do squirrels eat?
Squirrels can eat almost every mushroom, in fact, they can eat many poisonous mushrooms as well. One of the more interesting mushrooms that squirrels can eat are acorn truffles.
Acorn truffles are an example of an underground fungus. These mushrooms resemble acorns, they smell like acorns too.
Squirrels bury food for the winter months. When they find these buried mushrooms, they assume that they are acorns buried from a previous season and eat them.
Can squirrels eat Portobello mushrooms?
We, humans, love our mushrooms, Portobello mushrooms included, and squirrels can also eat this type of mushroom.
If you’re thinking of feeding squirrels this mushroom make sure you give it to them with no additions like salt or sauces. A squirrel’s body cannot filter out this much salt.
The salt can cause issues with their kidneys. Feed squirrels mushrooms as you would find them the wild, plain and uncooked.
What do squirrels eat?
Nuts are abundant in squirrel habitats and squirrels go crazy for them. Nuts offer squirrels proteins as well as essential vitamins and minerals. A squirrel’s preferred nuts are acorns and walnuts.
Give squirrels shelled nuts to allow them to gnaw.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Wild animals love fruits and vegetables. Both of these foods are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that will maintain a squirrel’s health and overall wellbeing.
Fruits and vegetables that squirrels enjoy include spinach, arugula, oranges, lettuce, apples, peas, squash, apricots, root vegetables, tomatoes, corn, and broccoli to name a few.
Insects aren’t a squirrel’s go-to meal but when food is scarce and if nuts are nowhere to be found then squirrels will eat insects to get the protein they aren’t able to get elsewhere.
Insects aren’t a squirrel’s favorite food but if they must, squirrels will eat them. Some insects that squirrels eat are grasshoppers, larvae, caterpillars, crickets, and injured butterflies
This is another way that squirrels can get the protein needed in their diet.
If the squirrel isn’t having any luck finding other food sources it will resort to stealing an egg from a bird’s nest and eating it. It can even steal eggs from chicken coops.
Squirrels can eat and love to eat mushrooms. In addition, squirrels eating mushrooms is great for biodiversity.
When mushrooms are eaten by squirrels the spores are left in the squirrel’s feces. The spores are excreted with the feces and the spores grow into new mushrooms elsewhere.
Squirrels aren’t negatively affected by the toxins in poisonous mushrooms. Their bodies are designed to expel the toxins before they can get into the squirrel’s bloodstream.
They eat almost all mushrooms and an interesting mushroom that they eat are acorn mushrooms. Acorn mushrooms look and smell like acorns.