You were out foraging for wild mushrooms when you came across a patch of half-eaten boletes. The caps were riddled with bug holes or partially missing, or perhaps you could see the evidence where mushrooms had been bitten off at the base of the stem. So now you’re curious: what animals eat the bolete mushroom? Keep reading as we explore the answer to this question and more!
What You'll Learn Today
What Animals Eat Bolete Mushrooms?
There are many types of animals that eat a wide variety of mushrooms. These animals may or may not consume boletes depending on whether or not they are available.
The following animals on this list are particularly known for eating bolete mushrooms if given the opportunity. This is an incomplete list, of course, but these animals have shown a documented love for boletes among the many other foods that make up their diet:
Different types of bears enjoy eating boletes. They will eat a variety of different bolete types, but they seem to prefer those known as slippery jacks.
Black, brown, and grizzly bears all eat bolete mushrooms, along with several other mushroom varieties.
Of course, bears eat many other foods as well. They are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything as long as it is readily available.
Not all bears actively forage for mushrooms, though most bears will eat them if they happen to come across them. The exception would be bear populations in Eurasia, the Pacific northwest, and around Yellowstone, who have displayed a greater tendency to hunt and eat mushrooms.
Like bears, deer eat many different kinds of mushrooms. This is especially true during the winter, when grass and other food sources are more scarce.
That said, they will sometimes eat mushrooms at other times of the year to supplement their diet and get extra nutrition.
Bolete mushrooms typically grow in the summer and fall months. Young deer who have been injured or are sick or malnourished may eat boletes for their nutritional properties and to help them recover.
Squirrels throughout the world will eat many different kinds of mushrooms.
When it comes to boletes, the red squirrel has shown a particular affinity for bolete mushrooms, especially the king boletes (known as penny buns in the U.K.).
King boletes are large mushrooms with a delicious nutty, earthy flavor. A single mushroom could provide multiple meals for a squirrel, so finding one in the wild is a desirable treat for them.
Check out this video of a squirrel eating a mushroom:
Pigs, both wild and domestic, are opportunistic omnivores. They will eat almost anything, even non-food items such as plastic and trash.
While wild boars are known for their attraction to truffles, pigs in general will eat many different kinds of mushrooms, including boletes. They will actively forage for these mushrooms in the wild.
Among the bolete group, king boletes seem to be a favorite. Their large size and delicious flavor make them an excellent food choice for pigs.
Many types of birds eat a wide variety of mushrooms, even some poisonous ones.
One bird specifically known for consuming boletes is the brown thrasher, a songbird native to eastern parts of the U.S. Though the brown thrasher eats mainly insects, it likes to supplement its diet with mushrooms.
Brown thrashers will eat different types of bolete mushrooms, along with chanterelles and mushrooms found within the poisonous amanita group.
Slugs and Snails
Both slugs and snails are major consumers of mushrooms. They will eat almost any type of mushroom without discrimination.
Both slugs and snails live on the ground, preferring to stay in moist, shady environments. These are the kind of environments where mushrooms tend to thrive.
Mushrooms are soft, easy to eat, and provide a wealth of nutrients. What’s more, slugs and snails aren’t affected by toxins, so even poisonous mushrooms don’t hurt them.
Slugs and snails will eat all different kinds of bolete mushrooms, depending on what is available in their specific habitat.
Various types of insects enjoy snacking on bolete mushrooms.
In particular, several species of flies will lay their eggs in this mushroom, and the maggots will hatch out and live on only the flesh of boletes while in the larval stage.
These flies are known as mushroom flies.
How Do Animals Know Which Mushrooms are Safe to Eat?
Not all bolete mushrooms are edible, and among other mushroom groups, some species are even deadly to humans. So, how do animals avoid being poisoned?
How do they know which mushrooms they can eat and which ones to avoid?
For the most part, this knowledge is instinctive. Certain animals may know to avoid certain mushrooms based on the color or smell. They may nibble on a food in question and know by the taste whether it is harmful or not.
Some animals are taught by their parents which foods (including mushrooms) are safe to eat and which ones are not.
Still other animals don’t need to worry about which mushrooms are edible and which ones are poisonous.
For example, deer and squirrels are far more tolerant of the toxins in mushrooms than humans are. Therefore, they can often eat poisonous mushrooms without experiencing any ill effects.
Slugs and snails don’t have a digestive system, so their bodies are able to process the toxins in poisonous mushrooms without experiencing the usual digestive-related symptoms that other animals (and humans) might endure.
Bolete mushrooms are popular edibles among both humans (here’re some recipes) and wild animals. Some of the animals that enjoy eating these mushrooms include bears, pigs, deer, squirrels, slugs, snails, birds, and insects.