Truffles are a type of fungi that grow underground, and they are highly sought after for their unique and intense flavors. Various animals have been known to find truffles, primarily through their keen sense of smell.
Here are a few examples of animals commonly used or known to find truffles:
1. Dogs: Dogs are the most commonly used animals for truffle hunting. They have an exceptional sense of smell and can be trained to detect the scent of truffles. Certain dog breeds, such as Lagotto Romagnolo and trained truffle dogs, are particularly adept at finding truffles.
2. Pigs: Historically, pigs were commonly used to find truffles. They have an innate ability to detect the odor of truffles, which is similar to the scent of pheromones produced by male pigs. However, pigs are less commonly used nowadays due to their size, strength, and tendency to eat the truffles they find.
3. Trained birds: In some regions, such as parts of France, specific bird species like truffle-hunting myna birds or truffle hawks have been trained to locate truffles. These birds are guided by their handlers to identify the truffle’s location.
4. Squirrels: In recent years, experiments have been conducted to train squirrels to find truffles. Squirrels have a natural inclination to dig for buried food, and researchers have successfully trained them to locate truffles by associating the scent with a reward.
5. Wild boars: Wild boars are probably the best at finding and digging out wild fresh truffles from the woods. They have an excellent sense of smell and are also very good diggers.
6. Jackals and coyotes: Jackals and coyotes are well-known truffle “hunters”. Both eat meat but also fungi and truffles are certainly on top of their vegetarian menu.
7. Bears: bears enjoy truffles and also have an excellent sense of smell for the truffle odor. The bears are very good diggers too. In our practice, we have seen a couple of times truffle spots hit by bears and there was almost nothing left for us 🙁
8. Dears: All kinds of dears are also truffle lovers. They eat and dig truffles with their front legs. Dear traces are commonly found on our truffle spots.
It’s important to note that while various animals have been used to find truffles, dogs are the most widely used and preferred option due to their ease of training, agility, and ability to work closely with humans.
In addition to that, there are many wild animals that are able to find the truffles even better than the animal hunters trained by human.