need info. on fungi-eating mammals

Sigvard Svensson Sigvard.Svensson at
Fri Nov 3 17:26:48 EST 1995

In article <46sicb$hlp at>, gitv45 at
(VAN TETS IAN G) wrote:

>        While some work on fungi-eating marsupials has been done here, I 
>have been unable to find very much on mammals feeding on fungi outside 
>Australia.  If someone knows any refernces related to this topic, could 
>they please forward them to me?  My Email address is gitv45 at
>        For those of you who are interested, the fungi involved were 
>hypogeal fungi usually associated with the roots of Eucalyptus, Acacia 
>and Banksia.  Many of the spores in the rat f¾ces were viable.  I suspect 
>the rats are an important dispersal agent for some of the fungal species.

Although I (for the moment at least) do not have any published references
on the topic, I have some field experiences and secondhand observations
from south Sweden that might be of interest.

I have personally observed cows eating *Hygrocybe punicea* and *Agaricus*
spp. when there were a lot of them. *Armillaria mellea *(coll.) clusters
on stumps are often seen grazed in a way that points out deers as grazers
(also other traces of deers at those places).  Deers are also known to
search for hypogeous fungi, traces of which often can be seen during
autumn at the bases of trees and bushes. The same applies to squirrels
(Red squirrel I think the european species is usually called) and small
rodents. The first hypogeous fungi I found (*Hydnotrya tulasnei*), I found
because of a small hole digged in the soil surface by some rodent. The
sporocarps showed clear toothmarks from the rodent.  There are also an
observation from Denmark of a squirrel digging in the ground and obviously
seeking for the *Tuber* species that the observer then found in the hole. 
Also Wild Boars are sureley big harvesters of these fungi, which I think
is strongly supported by the fact that the compounds responsible for the
odour of some mature truffle species are (almost) the same as the sexual
pheromons of female boars. 

As on the role of (especially) rodents as dispersers I completely agree
with your assumption on the importance for hypogeous fungi.

Furthermore (and a bit out of the scope of this): the history of edible
fungi in Sweden (among other northwest european countries, I believe) is
closely connected to domesticated mammals (i.e. cows) as people observed
which fungi the cows ate and then used the same for food (but in older
times only during times of cropfailures; eating mushrooms was very much
connected with emergency situations here).



Sigvard Svensson
Mycologist, Computer-Adviser, SDA
E-mail: Sigvard.Svensson at
Tel: 046-222 40 61 (Int.:+46 46 222 40 61)
Fax: 046-222 42 34 (Int.:+46 46 222 42 34)
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Botanical museum        
Oestra Vallgatan 18
S-223 61 Lund, Sweden
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