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Mushrooming Squirrels (9) More files...
When we imagine squirrels preparing their winter food cache visions of acorns and pinecones come to mind. But some years the harvest is slim and alternative food sources have to be found. Who knew that squirrels were so adept at mushrooming and preserving their fungus finds?

Michael Quinton documents an Alaskan Red Squirrel who did exactly this. In a lean year (the spruce cones were few) this clever creature sniffed out potential mushrooms and gave each a taste. If the fungus was flavorful he chewed down the stem, cut the plant into smaller pieces and laid the bits out to dry into jerky which stores easier and does not mold. The squirrel was even able to harvest poisonous Amanita muscaria to which the animals have a tolerance thanks to their particular gut proteins.

We hope you enjoy this gallery of this busy and hard-working squirrel. The last image shows our resourceful friend dining on a dried mushroom as the snow falls!
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting mushroom and cutting it into smaller pieces, the pieces will dry into jerky which makes it easier to store in a winter food cache, Alaska
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00562900 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting mushroom and cutting it into smaller pieces, the pieces will dry into jerky which makes it easier to store in a winter food cache, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting poisonous Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom, which it can digest with no ill effect, Alaska
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00562903 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting poisonous Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom, which it can digest with no ill effect, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) on mushroom, Alaska
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00562905 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) on mushroom, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting mushroom, Alaska
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00562902 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) collecting mushroom, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom, Alaska
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00562904 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom, Alaska
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00562901 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom that it has collected and allowed to dry, preserving the fungus for winter, Alaska
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00562898 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) carrying mushroom that it has collected and allowed to dry, preserving the fungus for winter, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) placed mushrooms drying in tree, Alaska
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00562899 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) placed mushrooms drying in tree, Alaska© Michael Quinton
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) feeding on mushroom that it has collected and allowed to dry, preserving the fungus for winter, Alaska
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00562906 Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) feeding on mushroom that it has collected and allowed to dry, preserving the fungus for winter, Alaska© Michael Quinton
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