How do wild animals know that pet food (like kibble) is edible if it doesn’t at all resemble what they would eat in nature?

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How do wild animals know that pet food (like kibble) is edible if it doesn’t at all resemble what they would eat in nature?

In: Biology

They are opportunists and will eat whatever is readily available. That’s why it is not good to feed wildlife, they will become addicted to easy food.

Many wild animals will also eat garbage. If something smells like food, they’ll likely try it. If it tastes like food, they’ll likely continue to eat it.

It smells like food. So they eat it. Just like with your pets. Hell, just like with humans. If you didn’t have someone to teach you what to eat you would still find food.

Creatures don’t store a list of edible material in their brains or some such, because brains are really, really bad at those things. Instead, evolution understood this problem and gave everyone the tools to figure these things out on the fly. This is what your senses are for. This is why you can even taste in the first place (presumably). It’s no accident that a lot of poisonous stuff tastes awful, or why rotten stuff smells like hell. This is how we generally tell whether something can be eaten. If it doesn’t smell or taste like death and destruction, chances are it’s safe to eat.

That’s more true in nature than it is in our modern world, but that’s us messing with evolution, for animals this rule is generally pretty safe. I’m sure there is a visual component in there as well, but if it smells nice and tastes nice, perhaps it doesn’t need to look nice. There are probably other reasons and mechanisms that help us determine what is and isn’t safe to eat, but I’d wager this is the main one.

By smell. That’s how they determine most of what they eat. It doesn’t matter what it looks like.

Now I’m adding some more text so this doesn’t get filtered for being to short. It might still though.

We opened a brand new bag of our dog food once, which he loved, and he took one smell and turned his nose up at it. It looked fine and smells fine to us, it had not expired but he wasn’t having it.

Replaced it with a different bag and he was all good. He knew something was wrong with it.