What Animals Eat Mushrooms: 8 Examples (with Pictures)

Wild boars
Photo: Jan / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Mushrooms are not only a favorite for humans, but to many animals too. In the wild, animals eat them because they’re packed with carbohydrates and give them enough calories to make it through the day.

However, with many mushrooms being poisonous, only a few species eat them. Today, we’ll be taking a look at what animals eat mushrooms in the wild!

Take a look at the list of animals that eat mushrooms below:

  • Rabbits
  • Monkeys
  • Raccoons
  • Squirrels
  • Deer
  • Wild Boar
  • Bear
  • Slugs

* Note: animals are ranked in order of their search volume. 

1. Rabbits

Photo: Kevin Jump / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Scientific name (family): Leporidae

Even though a rabbit’s diet primarily consists of grass and vegetation, these animals eat mushrooms from time to time. They’ll eat mushrooms that they can dig up from the ground.

This isn’t safe for them, though, and it usually only happens if the rabbit is starving. Many mushrooms are toxic and ingesting them can easily kill the animal. Because of this, a rabbit eating a mushroom in the wild is rare.

2. Monkeys

Photo: Doug88888 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Scientific name (order): Simiiformes

It’s been documented that at least 22 species of primates will eat fungi in the wild. This is, however, very rare. Less than 5% of all their feeding time is devoted to mushrooms, so monkeys aren’t exactly a genus of animal that loves mushrooms.

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There is a species of monkey, however, called the Goeldi’s Monkey, which utilizes mushrooms so much that they make up more than 60% of its diet! This is one of the very few species to do so.

3. Raccoons

Photo: Neil McIntosh / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Procyon lotor

Raccoons will generally eat anything. They’re omnivores, eating both meat and plants, and they’re not afraid of eating mushrooms either. This, however, isn’t that smart, since they can easily bite down on a poisonous mushroom.

So, they definitely won’t back away from a mushroom if they find any. This is why some people throw mushrooms at them in the wild, as they’re a cheap treat for raccoons.

4. Squirrels

Squirrel eating a mushroom
Photo: hedera.baltica / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name (family): Sciuridae

If you’re wondering what animals love mushrooms, squirrels should definitely be a top choice. These rodents will gladly eat mushrooms in the wild as a source packed with nutrients, and they’ll rarely get sick.

Squirrels can’t tell toxic mushrooms from safe ones any more than you can, but their digestive system is a bit more adapted to eating wild fruits and nuts, which is why they can eat mushrooms up to a certain degree of toxicity.

5. Deer

Photo: John Stratford / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Scientific name (family): Cervidae

Deer will gladly eat mushrooms – if they can find any. This is a favorite food of theirs, especially during the winter when grass is scarce. Similar to squirrels, deer can eat mushrooms that are somewhat toxic.

They have a tolerance to toxicity so developed, they can eat mushrooms that are toxic to humans. Since they offer more nutrients than grass, deer will gladly eat them, which is why mushrooms can be used to track them.

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6. Wild Boars

Wild boars
Photo: Jan / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Sus scrofa

Mushrooms are a favorite of the wild boar (as well as the domesticated pig). Wild boars can actually smell the mushrooms below the ground and dig them up with ease!

Some wild boars are used by humans to dig up truffles. Boars are very dependent on mushrooms as a source of nutrients and they’re one of their primary eaters!

7. Bears

Photo: Andrew Nicholson / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Scientific name (family): Ursidae

A little known fact about bears is that they’re actually omnivores are will gladly eat mushrooms. They prefer meat as their primary source of food, but they will actively look for and eat mushrooms if there isn’t enough meat.

This also applies to other foods, such as tree roots and plants. They usually aren’t affected by the mushroom’s effects, which is why some bears can actually eat psychedelic mushrooms in the wild!

8. Slugs

Carpathian blue slug
Photo: Gábor Kovács / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Scientific name (class): Gastropoda

The last entry on our list are slugs, animals that will eat virtually anything! There are too many species of slugs to count, but all of them can eat mushrooms. Alongside plants, mushrooms are the primary source of food for the everyday slug.

Some of them have even evolved so much that they can actually eat some of the most toxic mushrooms in the world. Fungi are an incredibly important source of food for slugs and snails too. 

To End

Mushrooms are an often overlooked source of food in the animal world. Many animals eat mushrooms as a secondary choice of food, but there are also animals that see mushrooms as crucial – such as the snail or the wild boar.

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There are even some species that have become immune to toxic mushrooms. In the wild, mushrooms present an inexhaustible source of food for many species, and it’s hard to imagine passing on fungi in the wild.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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