I wonder if all quadrupeds (or, mammals, at least), are edible?

From what I have collected, even down to fish, everything is edible apart from being sick or infected, and, apart from some glands secreting (deliberately, as far as this term makes sense in evolution) poisonous molecules.

This is (if correct), in stark contrast to plants, where frequently many parts of the plant contains poisons. (It has some logic: plants can't run away or mechanically fight back.)

Q: Are all quadrupeds edible?

An additional bonus on: WHY?


2 Answers 2


Edible by whom? Lets assume humans.

Yes all quadrpeds are edible though you may not want to eat every part.

For example, the scent glands of a skunk, or the quills of a porcupine are repulsive or impossible to eat. Also, some organs, like the liver of a polar bear, which accumulates vitamin A to toxic (to humans) levels.

It's impossible to say why this is so, since we can't prove why evolution occurs one way or another. What you suggest about mobility is reasonable, but not universal, since the poisonous puffer fish is able to move.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I had humans in mind, but anyone who has an answer for non-humans (up to other multi-cellular organisms) is welcome. Will wait to see other answers before accepting yours. $\endgroup$
    – user21844
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ What makes polar bears tolerant to high levels of vitamin A? $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 1:56

Polar bear (and probably a seal) liver is toxic due high concentration of Vitamin A.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle is probably toxic as it consumes poisonous sponges and its "body fat absorbs the toxins without making the turtle ill, but their meat is potentially poisonous to humans".

Shrikethrush birds (three species) are toxic as they consume melyridae beatles.

Moreover, there's a plenty of toxic amphibians like toads (bufotoxin called after them) and frogs.

  • $\begingroup$ Polar bear meets my question as a living counter example. As for the other species, the poison is not produced but consumed, in other words, those animals are not poisonous of their own. Good enough for a warning! $\endgroup$
    – user21844
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @GyroGearloose Whether they make it in their body or bring it in from outside they are still toxic. You can't eat them safely. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ @GyroGearloose: The platypus synthesises its own venom, but that's only in one gland so I don't know that it makes the animal inedible. Btw I'm not sure that polar bears are synthesising much if any of that vitamin A -- generally speaking omnivores can generate vitamin A from carotenoids, but polar bears aren't eating veggies. They're probably just sequestering vitamin A from their food (seals). $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:19