What Animals And Birds Are Eating My Tomato Plants? 9 Possible Suspects

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This is a comprehensive guide to help you identify the different animals that eat tomato plants and ways to keep these critters away from the garden.

Shall we dig in?

What Animals And Birds Will Eat Tomato Plants?

One of the popular vegetable crops to grow is tomatoes.

As tomatoes are packed with natural sugars, they invite a few backyard animals to the garden and damages the tasty fruits.

Some animals that eat tomatoes are rabbits, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, voles, raccoons, opossums, and groundhogs. A few birds, including cardinals, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers, may also feed on tomatoes. Most animals are active between dusk and dawn, and their chew marks, droppings, and footprints can identify.

You may use fences, wire mesh around the plants, and commercial deterrents to prevent them. But avoid using harsh chemicals to keep your garden safe.

Next, discuss the different animals and birds that feast on tomato plants.

1. Rabbits

Rabbits eat chunks of tomato leaves without leaving any jagged edges. They also nibble fruits and soft seedlings, leaving a slanted cut on the stem.

They usually feed near their burrows.

How To Deter Rabbits?

You may try a hardware cloth, electric rabbit fence, or chicken wire fence placed tightly against the ground to prevent the bunnies. You may also use artificial snakes, plastic owls, and smelly deterrents.

You may go through the video for more information:

2. Deer

Deers are voracious eaters that will graze all parts of the plants. They leave heart-shaped tracks near the tomato plants.

It is essential to keep changing the deterrent as deers become used to them over time.

How To Deter Deers?

You can spray strong-smelling deterrents or use barking dogs to deter deers. Fencing about 9 feet tall can keep deer out of the tomato garden, whereas electric fences will not help.

Check out detailed guide on deterring deer>

3. Squirrel

Squirrels are energetic gymnasts that chew your tomatoes in the early morning without disturbing the main plant.

Their tell-tale sign is medium to large holes in one side of the tomatoes.

How To Deter Squirrels?

The best solution is to use place a wire cage over the plant. You may also install an electric fence or place a fake snake or owl. Keep changing the position of fake animals.

Check this video for squirrel-proofing tomatoes:

4. Chipmunks

Like squirrels, chipmunks are agile gymnasts that are hard to control and eat your tomatoes off the vine in the early morning. They do not cause any real damage to the plant.

They are abundant in tomato gardens closer to wooded areas.

How To Deter Chipmunks?

You may install an electric fence or place a cage to deter the chipmunks. Spread coffee grounds around plants to discourage chipmunks.

Here is a video on keeping chipmunks away:

5. Voles

Voles are small mouse-like animals that severely damage my tomato plants. They chew on the stem, fruits, roots, and leaves.

They leave narrow grooves in the leaves created by their two front teeth from various angles.

How To Deter Voles?

You may destroy their tunnels located in leaves or grassy areas near your garden. They attract owls and hawks that control their population. Enclose the plant using a wire cage, about ¼ inch mesh.

6. Raccoons

Another intelligent garden intruder is raccoons that can get their way through fences during the night. They are avid climbers with dextrous hands and can get destroy tomato plants.

They can be identified with their distinctive 5-toe paw prints.

How To Deter Raccoons?

The best way to deter raccoons is placing a mesh fence of at least 4 feet tall or a wire cage. Do not keep pet food outdoors and leave the garbage cans open.

7. Groundhogs

One of the messiest eaters of the tomato plants is groundhogs, also known as woodchucks. They live in burrows with mounds at the beginning of the holes and are difficult to control.

They eat tomatoes and trample the whole plants.

How To Deter Groundhogs?

One reliable option is to trap and relocate them using professional help. Electric fences may keep them from destroying plants. Spread human hair clippings or Epsom salt to deter them.

8. Opossums

Opossums pose an occasional threat to tomatoes. But, they prefer rotten or overripe tomatoes and eat out of the compost heap.

They can be identified by sprinkling flour around the base of the plant and looking for footprints the next morning.

How To Deter Opossums?

Opossums can be deterred by removing overripe fruits from the garden. Use bright lights and block the paths that opossums may use.

9. Birds

The different birds, including cardinals, blue jay, woodpecker, thrush, and mockingbirds feed on both ripe and unripe tomatoes.

They leave behind deep gouges on the fruits high on the vine due to the pecking of birds.

How To Deter Birds?

You may use a net over the plants. Also, try planting bird-friendly plants, including sunflowers and marigolds, elsewhere in the garden to encourage biodiversity.

You may go through this video for more information:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you trap the animals eating the tomato plants?

It depends on your location and the type of animals. Trapping and releasing the animals into another area is considered illegal and inhumane in many countries. It can be dangerous if the animals carry rabies. You may use mousetraps for voles and other animals.

What animals eat tomato plants at night?

Some animals that are nocturnal feeders of tomato plants are skunks, rats, raccoons, and deer. Skunks are occasional feeders taking a bite from low-hanging fruits. Raccoons and rats also feed on the lower fruits. Deer will chew on fruits from the top down.

What is the humane way of deterring wildlife from entering the tomato garden?

If you are trying to deter deer and large animals, you may use motion-activated water sprinkler systems. Solar lights are preferable to prevent the smaller rodents that hunting in the dark.

Summary

Hopefully, this guide has provided specific hints in identifying and deterring the mysterious animals and birds troubling your tomato garden.

Do you know any other animals that enjoy tomatoes? Please let me know.

Also, do share the guide with your friends and family!

If you suspect pests are eating your tomato plants, here is a detailed guide to identify them.