Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Turtle's Mushroom Meal

Not all of the Blue Jay Barrens Eastern Box Turtles are hanging around in the yard.  I found this handsome turtle walking across the steep slope of the cedar forest. 

The recent rains have caused worms and slugs to become more active near the surface of the soil and the turtles are on the prowl to take advantage of these tasty morsels.

Another result of the rain was the emergence of several species of fungi.  This is some member of the Boletes family.  I found the turtle not far away.  I’m not sure if that particular turtle is responsible for the section of missing cap, but that’s quite likely to be the case.

Turtles leave a rather distinctive bite profile.  If this were a crime scene, I could make some plaster casts and check against the turtle’s bite.  It’s not uncommon for turtles to consume fungi.  Turtles are quite opportunistic and will feed on just about anything they come across.

Open water can be hard to find in a normal year and is especially scarce during a drought.  A moist fungus can go a long way towards supplying the turtle’s water needs.

The fungi are quite abundant.  There’s no way that a few turtle meals are going to diminish the fungi’s ability to produce plenty of spores.  A stem defect caused this fungus to topple and expose a mold advancing across the reproductive pores.  Even a fungus can’t avoid being consumed by a fungus.


  1. Hi Steve..I wonder if turtles have the affect on them that some mushroom have on need to being watching out for those guys they may turn on ya...that is quite a bite he has!!!
    Fungus consumed by fungus, turtles with a big bite? You need to be careful "if you go down in the wood today your in for a big surprise" "If you go down in the woods today you better go in disguise" hahahaha ; }

  2. Great turtle portraits, especially the first one! I had the same thought about those 'shrooms. I hope they don't go nutzoid on you!

  3. Love seeing the mushroom forensics, Steve. I have always heard turtles like them, but it is good to see this distinctive "chomp".

  4. Hi Grace. I’ve checked out the local mushrooms pretty thoroughly and am sure there are none with hallucinogenic qualities. The turtles have never threatened me. They occasionally slip out of their shells and dance on two legs, but they are never aggressive.

    Thanks Lois. Hallucinogenic mushrooms are supposed to create a mellow behavior, so if the turtles were affected, they would just be more relaxed.

    Hi Cheryl. I sometimes think there’s nothing a box turtle won’t eat. We have a spot in the field where we toss out food scraps. Box turtles are right in line with all the other animals competing to get their share of the bounty.

  5. Interesting. I did not know a fungus could be consumed by another fungus.
    I'd love to see those turtles dancing!:)

  6. Hi Pat. It's an odd thing about those dancing turtles. Although I've seen it many times, no one else has managed to witness the spectacle.

  7. Turtles will eat anything.

    They've been recorded consuming deer feces.

  8. Hi Mark. I can understand that. Deer pass a lot of nutritious, partially digested plant material. Those nuggets are treats for many animals.

  9. thanks for sharing.