While we eat mushrooms for their great taste, they have also amazing health benefits for us. But what about squirrels? Can squirrels eat mushrooms? Do they have the same reaction to mushrooms as we do?
Like rabbits, squirrels can and eat mushrooms because mushrooms are delicious plants. As interesting as they look, they are quite useful than that. Filled with vitamins and proteins, these fungi are a great source of nutrition that grows wild in yards, gardens, and parks. However, not all mushrooms are healthy, in fact, some mushrooms are bad and even toxic but not for squirrels.
But it may affect squirrels in other ways like squirrel being drunk or stoned but not cause death to squirrels. These mushrooms are toxic for us like chocolate for squirrels but is not fatal for squirrels.
From mushroom recipes to mushroom salad to mushrooms sauce, they are excellent for adding a flavor to many recipes. This little fungus are not only delicious but is also nutritious and contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Like mushrooms raised in light are a good source of Vitamin D and also useful for bones and the immune system.
As these useful plants are native to the wild, omnivores and herbivores like squirrels eat them all the time. However, not all mushrooms are the same, some are useful whereas some are toxic. And it’s quite difficult to differentiate bad ones from the good for us and almost impossible for animals. But fortunately, it doesn’t kill squirrels. Because of the various diet and immune system of squirrels. It may affect squirrels, like a drunk, but it is not fatal for them.
Can Squirrels Eat Mushrooms?
Of course, why not. Squirrels can do eat mushrooms, in fact, they love mushrooms. Just like raccoons, these adorable rodents eat whatever they get especially fruits, vegetables, seeds, flower bulbs, mushrooms, popcorn.
While most mushrooms are useful, some species can also be toxic and potentially lethal for us but not for squirrels. However, it is quite difficult to distinguish from the non-toxic varieties for us and almost impossible for animals to identify. That’s why veterinarians recommend treating all wild mushrooms as potentially toxic for people but not for squirrels.
As smart as they are, some people believe that squirrels won’t eat toxic mushrooms because they can identify toxins by scent. However, this could not be further from the truth. Neither squirrels nor any other animal and even ordinary people could distinguish a toxic mushroom by scent or color. But luckily, there are no fatal mushrooms for squirrels even they doesn’t affect squirrels like drinking water.
However, if you have seen squirrels going drunk or getting stoned, that can be due to bad mushroom but is unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, if you are willing to feed squirrels, you can probably feed mushrooms. and also if you see a squirrel eating or picking mushrooms, you should let it use the mushroom. They travel miles away for mushrooms, (here’s the exact distance) and comes back to their nest.
How Many Mushrooms Do Squirrels Eat In A Day?
A squirrel eats about 3 – 4 mushrooms a day that is equivalent to 2 nuts which they typically eat everyday.
Why Squirrels Eat Mushrooms?
While squirrels are omnivores, they eat meat and plants both but mostly plants meaning they eat mushrooms and even happily. Squirrels eat mushrooms for the same reason they eat other things like water. They eat mushrooms just like any other food without realizing which mushroom is it and is it the bad one. Because whichever mushrooms they eat, it does affect them at all, so they do not need to think or distinguish which one is it.
Why Mushrooms Are Not Toxic to Squirrels?
Dr. John Rippon, an world expert on fungal diseases finds out squirrels eating mushrooms containing deadly amanita-toxins without being affected. The Amanita phalloides also known as death cap has three toxic chemicals. Two cause death but are destroyed in cooking. The third one contains the second amanitin connected tightly to the glycoprotein molecule.
If we eat the mushroom, the enzymes in our gut cut off the bond of the toxin and glycoprotein excreting the glycoprotein and letting the toxin move into our bloodstream which will then poison us. But why don’t squirrels get poisoned? Here’s how.
Unlike us, squirrels have line their gut with a toxin-compatible glycoprotein, so when a squirrel digest mushrooms, the toxin and glycoprotein bond still breaks up but reconnects to the glycoprotein, and the mushrooms toxin excretes along with it.
Of course, squirrels do not cook the mushrooms to clear the first two toxin or molecules, however, these bonds the same like the third one. And that’s how squirrels eat the mushroom and excretes the toxin. There are a few more animals which do this this like guinea pigs but other than those, any other animal will be poisoned if eats amanita mushrooms.
Unless you are a fungal specialist, never eat a mushroom assuming it is safe no matter where it was raised or found. The only way you can eat mushrooms is to buy from stores online or locally which is checked, packed, ready and safe to use.
Is Eating Mushrooms Beneficial for Squirrels?
Aside from the toxins, mushrooms have lots of benefits and are a great source of Vitamin B and D, potassium, zinc, and selenium for both humans and squirrels. Not only that, but mushrooms contain a lot of essential vitamins and minerals.
What Happens After Squirrel Eats Toxic Mushroom?
Certain mushroom species contain different toxins which affects squirrels differently. For example, Aminata mushrooms contain amanitin toxins that can cause squirrel stoned. Other types of Aminata mushrooms cause sedation tremours, walking drunk, and seizures.
Other types of mushrooms simply cause GI upset. While these are rarely life-threatening, it is very hard to determine the type of mushroom ingested based on early symptoms.
How Do Squirrels Find Mushrooms?
While squirrels are incredibly intelligent rodents, regardless of where they are in the city or in the wild, squirrels are always foraging for food including mushrooms and easily spot where it is even on the other side of the road. They find mushrooms just like they find fresh water. There are plenty of mushrooms and nuts in the wild but also in the city, they often find and eat mushrooms and even store and dries mushrooms for the winter just like nuts.
Which Mushrooms Are Beneficial to Squirrels?
Although mushrooms are a complicated food group, most of them are beneficial, not toxic. But even the toxic ones are not lethal for squirrels, almost all of them are beneficial for squirrels which mean squirrels can eat almost all of the mushrooms. Some of which are:
- Crimini mushrooms
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- Reishi Mushroom (The Mushroom of Immortality)
- Cordyceps Mushroom (The Caterpillar Fungus)
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Turkey Tails
Should You Feed Mushrooms to Squirrels?
It’s very difficult to distinguish toxic from non-toxic mushrooms which is why you should never choose mushrooms yourself especially not for yourself. If you would like to feed mushrooms to squirrels, you can do it without worry. There’s no need to buy mushrooms from stores. You can simply feed mushrooms from your garden, yard, or even in the park. There’s no harm in it.
If you want to get rid of squirrels by killing them, it does not kill them by the way, even it is unlikely to cause side affects. But you can always get rid of squirrels by shooting them or trapping and relocating but first check if it is legal in your state to do so. Here’s how to find out.
Which Type of Squirrels Eats Mushrooms?
All species of squirrels eat mushrooms but some types of squirrel a lot. Flying squirrels especially northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) eat mushrooms and lichen regularly. Nonetheless, gray squirrels won’t give up the chance of mushrooms. In fact, researchers says that gray squirrels can eat deadly amanita (death cap) mushrooms without being affected, sicked, or killed. Another rodent which eats mushrooms is the jumping mouse.