Ask any kid and they'll tell you that squirrels eat mushrooms. But what are the nutritional benefits of the mushroom to a squirrel? What type of mushroom do squirrels like to eat? Do flying squirrels eat mushrooms? Is it dangerous for them to eat poisonous mushrooms or amanita mushrooms? How can we keep our lawn from being destroyed by all those hungry squirrels looking for their next meal, whether it's a tasty morsel of fungus or not. This blog post will answer these questions and more.
Squirrels love to eat mushrooms. It is not only interesting but also healthy for squirrels to eat mushrooms that can add vitamins and nutrients to their body. They will eat them on the ground and in trees.
What are mushrooms and why are they good for squirrels?
According to the Mushroom Council, "mushrooms are vegetables that grow above ground on organic materials like soil or decaying logs." Squirrel mamas eat mushrooms during pregnancy which helps their kits develop brain cells because they contain zinc and potassium. Mushrooms also contain protein, selenium, and vitamin D. As one article puts it, "squirrels share many organs with humans (heart/lungs, kidneys/bladder, etc...), so why not share some of the same nutritional benefits as well!"
Are mushrooms dangerous for squirrels to eat?
It depends on the type of mushroom. Some mushrooms are deadly poisonous to squirrels, but others are safe.
For example, Amanita phalloides is a highly toxic fungus that produces severe gastrointestinal symptoms. However there are "approximately 100 known species of Amanitas..." so it's not always easy to tell which ones are poisonous and which ones aren't. If you have any doubt about whether or not what you found was an amanita mushroom, don't feed it to your squirrels. Some other types of poisonous mushrooms include False Morels, Panther Cap Mushrooms, and Destroying Angels.
Squirrels have been known to eat poisonous mushrooms! In fact, two observers noted squirrels seem to have a "fairly high resistance" to lethal secondary metabolites present in certain mushroom species which suggests that they've developed an immunity of sorts over time. Although these two researchers observed squirrels eating poisonous mushrooms, I would feed any to them.
Mushrooms that are safe for squirrels to eat
The following mushrooms are safe for squirrels to eat:
Morel mushrooms are a type of wild mushroom that are considered safe for squirrels to eat. They have a nutty flavor and are often used in dishes like pasta or risotto.
Lawn mushrooms are not really a type of mushroom, but are defined as mushrooms that grow in your lawn. Some of them are edible and some are not. Squirrels will usually know which ones are safe and which are not.
White button mushrooms
White mushrooms have a mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. These are the most purchased and consumed mushrooms. Squirrels love to eat white mushrooms.
Shittake mushrooms are a type of edible mushroom that are popular in Asia. Squirrels will eat shittake mushrooms. They are considered a delicacy and are often used in dishes like stir fries and soups. Some people believe that shittake mushrooms have health benefits, including boosting the immune system and helping to fight cancer.
Where do squirrels eat mushrooms? On the ground, in trees, or both?
Squirrels are versatile eaters so they eat mushrooms on the ground or take them up in trees to eat. Eating mushrooms in trees can be safer for squirrels because they are not as exposed. They also are able to quickly scurry about the trees branches if a predator tries to attack them while they are eating mushrooms.
When do squirrels eat mushrooms?
They usually eat them when they're fresh and in season. However, you can dry out and store certain types of fungus for times when food is scarce such as winter or drought season to feed to your squirrels.
Prevent squirrels from eating mushrooms
Some people suggest that you sprinkle cayenne pepper on the ground to keep them away from your lawn. This could keep them from eating mushrooms that pop up in your yard.
A better way is to keep mushrooms from growing in your yard. You can use a fungus preventative spray or granule. Simple things like making sure your lawn drains correctly and gets enough sunlight can help reduce the number of mushrooms that grow in it.
Other foods you can feed squirrels besides mushrooms
If you're not sure about feeding mushrooms to your squirrels there are other foods you can give them. Besides giving them a variety of nuts and seeds, you can also feed squirrels other foods like fruits and vegetables.
Do red squirrels eat mushrooms?
Yes, red squirrels eat mushrooms. Red squirrels' diet is very similar to other squirrels.
Do flying squirrels eat mushrooms?
Yes, flying squirrels eat mushrooms. True flying squirrels have furry legs and feet with actual membranes between their limbs so they can glide up to 100 yards at a time. They also have tails covered in fur which helps them break as they travel through the air. Flying squirrels use their legs to steer.
The most common type of flying squirrel is the Southern Flying Squirrel. I won't go into too much detail, but there are at least 2 other species of flying squirrels in North America.
Do squirrels eat mushrooms summary
In conclusion, it sounds like squirrels will eat all sorts of different mushrooms and other types of fungus depending on where and when they find them. Some mushroom species are safe while others may be toxic or even deadly so you should probably stay away from using them to feed your squirrels unless you know where they have come from and that they are safe.