Morel mushrooms are a favorite part of spring. Their unique nutty flavor makes them a favorite of mushroom hunters throughout the Northern Hemisphere. But did you know many animals enjoy eating morels as well? Each spring, it’s often a race to see who can get to the tasty mushrooms first. So, what wild animals eat morels? Keep reading as we explore the answer to this question!
What You'll Learn Today
Do Deer Eat Morels?
There are many different species of deer. Some of them eat morels, while others typically don’t.
Some of the deer species that enjoy eating morels include mule deer, moose, and elks. These species generally live in northern regions where nutritious food can be in short supply throughout the long winter months, so their taste for morels may have a lot to do with the nutrition they provide.
Morels emerge in the spring as the weather begins to warm up. They are full of vitamins and other nutrients that the above species of deer may be craving after a cold, hard winter.
Generally, white-tailed deer and other common species do not eat morel mushrooms.
Do Armadillos Eat Morels?
Armadillos are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat nearly anything they can find. Their favorite food seems to be a variety of insects, but they will also eat small mammals, reptiles, and plant matter.
So, what about mushrooms, and morels in particular?
Armadillos have been known to eat some mushrooms as well as other types of fungi. While it’s unclear whether they will eat morels, there is reason to believe that they would if given the opportunity.
That said, armadillos tend to live in hot, dry regions of North, Central, and South America, while morels are typically found in cooler, damp, forested areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Since they are typically found in different habitats, it’s unlikely that morels are an available food choice to most armadillos.
Do Wild Hogs Eat Morels?
Like armadillos, wild hogs are highly opportunistic feeders. Plants make up the majority of their diet, but they will also eat some animals, fungi, algae, and a variety of other materials (including non-food items such as garbage).
In regards to fungi, Wildlife Damage Management states,
“Feral hogs consume a small amount of fungi, specifically the fruiting bodies of fungi, year-round. The amount consumed depends on availability of other forage resources.”
With this in mind, it seems likely that wild hogs would eat morel mushrooms if given the opportunity.
Wild hogs are widely distributed throughout many of the same regions where morels grow. Though morels would make up only a small part of their overall diet, there’s a good chance that they will eat the mushrooms occasionally.
Do Squirrels Eat Morels?
Squirrels, especially gray squirrels, love to eat morels when they’re in season. They eat a variety of other mushrooms as well, as you can see in the video below:
Squirrels are herbivores, and they enjoy many different kinds of plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, flower bulbs, fruits, veggies, and leaves. But mushrooms, when they can get them, seem to make an especially delicious treat for them.
Do Raccoons Eat Morels?
Raccoons are yet another animal that enjoys a very diverse diet. They will eat anything from plant materials to small animals to food scraps in your dumpster.
Unsurprisingly, raccoons also enjoy eating mushrooms from time to time. They will eat any mushrooms that are also safe for humans to eat, including morels.
As with deer, raccoons may eat morels for their nutritional content as well as their easy availability in spring. Raccoons often live in moist, wooded areas, where morels are abundant in springtime once the weather starts warming up.
Of course, raccoons living in urban areas are less likely to eat morels because there will be plenty of other food sources more readily available to them. Raccoons, like many of the animals on this list, are not picky and will gravitate toward eating whatever makes for the easiest meal at any given time and place.
What Other Animals Eat Morels?
Morels are a favorite food among many different kinds of animals, not just the ones we’ve discussed in this article. Some other animals that enjoy eating morels include:
- Bears: Morels grow abundantly in many of the regions that black and grizzly bears call home. Bears will eat many different types of mushrooms when they’re in season, and morels are some of their favorites.
- Rodents: Rodents tend to eat a variety of different plant foods, including mushrooms. Rats, moles, and other small rodents likely eat morels and other types of mushrooms whenever they are available.
- Dogs: Dogs love to chew on things, and though they have been known to get in trouble by sampling poisonous mushrooms, they shouldn’t experience any negative symptoms from eating morels. Some dog owners have even successfully trained their pets to help them hunt for morels.
- Insects: Many kinds of insects enjoy snacking on morel mushrooms. In fact, when you go hunting for morels, you’ll likely have to clean them well to make sure there are no little bugs hiding out inside the mushrooms waiting for their next meal.
- Slugs: Slugs and snails also eat a variety of mushrooms, including morels. Mushrooms are conveniently found on forest floors growing near damp and decaying wood, which is where slugs and snails like to congregate.
As you can see, humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy hunting for morels each spring. A wide variety of different animals will also chow down on the delicious mushrooms whenever they are available.