7 Interesting Animals That Eat Mushrooms!

Did you know truffles, which is one of the most expensive gourmet food items, is a mushroom and to add to this unique fact, truffles are one of the pigs’ favorite food!

Well, I came across this anecdote as I was flipping through a magazine while I waited for my dentist to call me. Well, that is a story for another day!

But reading this fact, I started thinking that mushrooms, which are essentially fungi, are consumed not just by humans but also by other animals.

Animals that eat mushrooms

  • Pigs
  • Bears
  • Squirrels
  • Deer
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Goeldi’s Monkey

It got me thinking on another point, whether animals can distinguish between dangerous and harmless mushrooms. We’re often cautioned against eating mushrooms that we’re unsure of as these can be poisonous.

But how do animals differentiate between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms? All of these got me thinking about animals that eat mushrooms. This was when I came across these animals that are devout mushroom eaters.

Table of Contents

Here are seven animals that eat mushrooms:

1. Pigs

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Pigs are known for being naturally fond of mushrooms. This is because they have a strong sense of smell and can quickly identify the scent of truffles.

The subtle scent emanated by truffles attracts pigs, so these creatures are often used while hunting wild truffles.

However, the challenge remains to wrestle the truffle from the mouth of the pigs!

But expert hunters use pigs to identify the location of the truffles, and then the mushrooms are harvested. Other than truffles, pigs eat different types of mushrooms.

Pigs are omnivorous scavengers, and hence, these animals can consume nearly all kinds of food that humans can eat. Thus, mushrooms are food items that pigs can finish quickly.

If you’re a pig-owner and are planning to incorporate mushrooms in your pigs’ diet, then you should choose to give them Cremini, Portobello, Morel, Black trumpet, Porcini, White button, or Oyster mushroom.

Free-range mushrooms can be poisonous as twenty percent of the mushrooms growing in the wild aren’t suited for consumption.

On the other hand, mushrooms are rich in several types of vitamins and minerals, which is why you could include them in your pig’s diet.

2. Bears

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Bears are also known to consume mushrooms and other types of fungi. Being an omnivore, a bear can have both plant and animal-based diets.

Bears can hunt, and at the same time, they can consume food that’s readily available in the forest, food items such as mushrooms.

For example, black bears often consume mushrooms to supplement their diet of plant and animal-based food.

It has been found that in the summer months, black bears are drawn to consuming mushrooms.

The primary reason is that the lack of good nutrition during spring has caused it to lose weight, which it needs to regain.

With new plant growth, mushrooms also start growing, and black bears start foraging for the mushrooms.

Likewise, the animal consumes the fungi to supplement its diet and make-up for the lost weight.

Being rich in Calcium, Protein, and Magnesium, the mushrooms help grow bones and strengthen the muscles.

3. Squirrels

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These tiny creatures love to munch on mushrooms as these can help the squirrels grow their bones.

Squirrels can eat anything plant-based. You’ll see them nibbling on nuts, chewing on stalks of plants, and eating roots.

Thus, they can even consume mushrooms. However, if you have a pet squirrel and want to give it mushrooms, you should consult your veterinarian regarding the type of mushrooms you can provide your pet with.

In the wild, squirrels are known to hunt for mushrooms as they’re excellent foragers. They’re quick to identify the poisonous mushrooms and instinctively avoid these.

Mushrooms can provide squirrels with the essential nutrients their body needs since they contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.

In the wild, you’ll find that both red and gray squirrels consume mushrooms. They’ll instinctively avoid toadstools and death cap mushrooms because these are poisonous.

But they’ll consume all other non-poisonous mushrooms growing in the wild.

4. Deer

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Deer are herbivores, and they’ll consume all plant-based food. Given that deer are also known to forage for plants, they can identify different types of food based on the odor, color, and shape of the food.

For example, deer are quick to distinguish the scent between different kinds of vegetables and fruits.

The deer can quickly identify the location of mushrooms with the help of its strong sense of smell.

Amongst most species of deer, the whitetail deer can quickly identify mushrooms in moist regions.

After spring in early summer, you’ll find mushrooms sprouting in many parts of the forests that receive good rainfall.

Deer can forage for mushrooms and are drawn to the fungi by the smell they emanate.

One of the reasons why deer should forage for mushrooms is because of the high nutritional value of the fungi.

Deer, too, tend to lose weight in the winter months, making it necessary for the creature to make up for the lost weight.

The high nutritional value of mushrooms will supplement the lost weight and provide all the essential minerals and vitamins. 

5. Slugs

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Slugs are often found feeding on mushrooms because this makes up the primary source of food for them.

If you’ve observed mushrooms around damp areas closely, you’ll often find slugs around them.

The primary reason for this is that mushrooms grow in moist regions and slugs tend to stay in wet areas that have a certain amount of foliage.

Farmers who grow mushrooms often complain that slugs can destroy their entire crop of mushrooms.

If there is a slug infestation, they’ll not only target the edible mushrooms but also young seedlings. They’ll even consume the poisonous mushrooms.

In the wild, the slugs are necessary to keep the growth of mushrooms in check. But when mushrooms are being harvested as a crop, the slugs need to be controlled.

They need to be handled at the onset because these molluscs multiply fast and can destroy an entire crop.

What sets slugs apart from other mushroom-eating animals is that they can consume the most toxic fungi.

6. Snails

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Another creature that survives on mushrooms and other types of fungi is snails.

These creatures are primarily herbivores. But they need to supplement their diet with an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.

To do so, they tend to consume several types of fungi, with one of them being mushrooms.

Additionally, snails have to ensure that their muscles are developed enough to help them crawl on the ground.

Mushrooms are rich in calcium. Studies show that ordinary mushrooms that are regularly consumed contain nearly 2.9 mg of calcium for every 100-gram serving.

Thus, snails tend to seek out and consume mushrooms to supplement their requirement for calcium.

Snails need to consume a significant amount of calcium to ensure that their shells are sturdy enough to provide them adequate protection since this is their only defense mechanism.

Along with that, snails tend to be found in places that are moist and covered with moss. These are also ideal places for the growth of mushrooms.

Being herbivores and foragers for food, snails tend to move towards mushrooms whenever available.

7. Goeldi’s Monkey

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Another creature that enjoys having mushrooms is the goeldi monkey. This small primate is native to South American regions.

Being a herbivore, the goeldi monkey follows a strict plant-based diet. But it’s customary to associate monkeys with having fruits and vegetables.

However, monkeys are quick to identify suitable mushrooms and consume these. They can identify the mushrooms that are non-poisonous and can consume this whole.

Since monkeys belong to the primate family, they have a complex nervous and muscular system. Hence, they need to ensure that their diet consists of minerals, proteins, and vitamins. 

Monkeys often supplement their diet with mushrooms and fungi to ensure that they get a good supply of essential vitamins and minerals to remove any nutritional deficit.

Unlike the goeldi monkey, regular monkeys don’t consume mushrooms regularly since it’s not a significant part of their diet.

They’ll tend to seek mushrooms in the absence of other food items or if they feel that the fungi can meet a nutritional deficit that the creature is facing.

The primary reason for this is that mushrooms tend to be low in calories and monkeys need high-calorie food to maintain their body fat.

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