miked's picture

What mammal? is eating the boletus

Observed: 21st November 2009 By: miked
iSpot team
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Description:

Quite a few Boletus badius in this pine woodland had been felled all with same symptoms of the 'teeth'? marks at their base or in the cap.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Grey Squirrel (Rodentia - possibly Sciurus carolinensis) interacts

Comments

the naturalist man's picture

Squirrel munchies

I agree, to large for small rodents and to small for deer or badger. The only other likely suspect would be a fox. Was it in a field or woodland? If in woodland most probably squirrel, however if it were out in the open then most likely a fox.

I've just noticed the conifer leaves so am guessing it was in a conifer plantation.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

miked's picture

Yes they are in a scots pine

Yes they are in a scots pine woodland. The strange thing is that so many of the Boletus badius were felled whereas no other species of mushroom were touched and that with most of the specimens it was only the base of the stem that was cut rather than being more widely eaten (the cap with the teeth marks was an exception).

Anna's picture

Could it be a rabbit? I'm not

Could it be a rabbit? I'm not sure how to tell the difference between their teeth marks.

the naturalist man's picture

Felled Boletus

Just to clarify, had all the Boletus been knocked over?

In the photo, the one on the left - has the base of the stem been eaten or are the marks just where the stem was broken.

If they had all been knocked down that sounds like badger activity, they will cause havoc in a mushroom patch and only eat a couple. I'm not sure if they are after the slugs or just fussy which Boletus they eat.

If badgers are involved that does not rule out squirrels or mice eating them as well.

It would be very difficult to tell rabbit from squirrel teeth marks, both have large incisors. An adult rabbits teeth are larger but not by much. However, I'm not sure rabbits would normally eat mushrooms - anyone know?

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

miked's picture

Throughout the woodland there

Throughout the woodland there were felled Boletes, there were a few that had the marks at the base that had not fallen but it was obvious when you picked them i.e. the teeth marks were actually under the standing mushroom. This factor combined with the very small teeth marks makes me question squirrel somewhat and wonder about something even smaller. I have one or two more close-ups of the base of the stem if that might help.

the naturalist man's picture

Boletus

I see your point Mike. However, as far as I can see from the tooth marks they look large for a mouse. Please upload the extra photo(s), they might help if they are close-ups of the marks. A squirrel would not be able to eat the top of the boletus because it could not open its mouth wide enough to accomodate the curvature, therefore it would go for the edge or underside. Thinking aloud, I wonder if the stems are tastier, or just easier to eat for a small mouth?

One thing I had not noticed before is the high ridge between the parallel incisor marks. This indicates a gap between the two incisors, ruling out mouse but introducing bank vole - still look to large though. Squirrels and rabbits also have a gap between their front teeth. This one is not as easy as it first appeared!

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

the naturalist man's picture

Tooth marks

Thanks for the close-up picture. I think I'm sticking with squirrel, I've examined my rabit skulls and the teeth marks look to narrow for rabbit.

The tooth marks are very deep and long, they have been formed by a large mouth. Mouse or vole marks would be more like small nibbles not long gouges.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

Anna's picture

Graham, you asked if anyone

Graham, you asked if anyone knows if rabbits eat mushrooms. I've never seen it happen, but in the River Cottage Mushrooms Handbook, by John Wright, it says that rabbits can eat Death Caps with no ill-effects, so presumably they do!

miked's picture

In this case its definitely

In this case its definitely not rabbits as the mushrooms were fairly deep in a coniferous forest and there are no rabbits in this habitat.

Anna's picture

I hope I didn't give the

I hope I didn't give the impression that I was trying ot argue. I wasn't at all, I am just interested.

miked's picture

No you did not give the

No you did not give the impression of arguing, I was just ruling out rabbits in general. Indeed it is interesting that some things can eat mushrooms that contain such a toxic cocktail of chemicals although I seem to recall that death by death cap can take several days so not sure how they know the rabbits did not suffer ill effects.
Various other questions about mushrooms include why some are toxic(to humans) or why some are coloured, not sure there are fully convincing answers to these. Is it purely random collections of by-product chemicals that happen to be toxic or coloured or are there other reasons. An evolutionary advantage might be had by a fruiting body that does not get eaten before releasing its spores or is brightly coloured and does get spotted and eaten if its spores can pass through the digestive tract and get deposited in a suitable place further away.

Anna's picture

I wonder if rabbits can

I wonder if rabbits can survive eating death caps because they have a fast metabolism. In humans, it can take up to two days before any effects are felt, by which time the damage is being done, so perhaps the amatoxins pass through rabbits before they do their work. Or maybe it's rubbish! I have heard from several sources that reindeer are affected by fly agarics in the same way as humans, but I don't know how similar a deer's metabolism is to that of humans. Anyway, I'm drifting off topic here, sorry!

I'm interested in the evolutionary aspects you mentioned, though, and I'll have a think about it!