Finding a lot of partially eaten tomatoes in your garden is an unpleasant surprise and you may be wondering which animal could have done that. Could it be a squirrel? Do squirrels eat tomatoes or cucumbers?
Squirrels can eat tomatoes and also cucumbers. They will usually give just a few bites to several tomatoes, preferring the ripe ones. More rarely they can also eat an entire tomato. Other vegetables that squirrels like to eat include, peas, and beans. Squirrels can also eat green tomatoes if they are thirsty.
Can squirrels eat tomatoes? Unfortunately, yes. You’re certainly not the only one who enjoys tomatoes, and you may have taken a look at them only to find that some of them have been partially or completely eaten.
This may be caused also by other animals, however, squirrels are one of the most likely culprits and they could also cause other damage, such as damaging your plants and garden by digging holes or even damaging parts of your house. They might also build their nest near you when they find out how much food you have, making it very difficult to keep them away.
Keep reading to find out how you can protect your garden and your tomatoes, while not doing any harm to the squirrels in the process.
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Do squirrels eat tomatoes on the vine?
Do squirrels eat tomato plants?
Yes, squirrels can eat tomatoes off the plant, and they may not even stop there. Squirrels can even eat tomato plants, including leaves, stems, and fruit!
Before you can figure out what preventative measures to put in place, you should make sure that it really is squirrels that are eating your tomatoes off the vine.
The culprits could also be various other animals, such as other small mammals, deer, birds or a variety of different insects, which all have a fondness for tomatoes. Take a look at the following other animals that eat tomatoes and keep in mind these clues:
- Insects love tomatoes too. You might notice small nibbles or holes in the leaves of the plant, which is a sure sign of an insect being responsible. As for the fruit itself, obviously, it will take a while for insects to eat an entire tomato, so it will probably only have surface damage, or the insects may have burrowed into it.
- Deer are of course much larger animals and are likely to have damaged your garden more and eaten more of your plants than a smaller animal could have managed. Do deer eat tomatoes? Deers are also likely to have eaten some leaves as well as your tomatoes and other fruits.
- Birds are also eating tomatoes. However, it is generally easier to recognize a tomato that has been eaten by a bird as they leave clear marks with their beak.
- There’s one clue that all mammals can leave behind: Footprints. Try checking online for what the footprints from animals in your area look like, and then take a look for any footprints in the soil in your garden. Though it may be hard to tell which animal made them if you find one with a clear shape it can confirm your suspicions right away. Squirrels have long, skinny toes, with 4 on their front feet and 5 on their larger back feet. Other recognisable footprints are badger footprints, which look like miniature bear tracks, and deer tracks, which can vary but are always recognisable, as deer hooves will leave two indentations in the ground, often heart-shaped.
One way to tell if it’s a squirrel eating your tomatoes is by what kind of damage the plant has sustained.
Squirrels will often take small bites out of multiple tomatoes, wastefully ruining a bunch of them, though they might sometimes eat the whole fruit as well. They will prefer to eat ripe tomatoes, but they might eat green ones occasionally as well, especially if they’re thirsty.
Squirrels also love to dig small holes in the ground to look for seeds and other food, and you might also find plants or other objects that have been damaged by chewing, as squirrels need to chew constantly since their teeth never stop growing. However, other animals like rats and rabbits also have to chew things for the same reason.
Ultimately, the best way to confirm what’s been invading your garden is by catching it in the act, so keep a watchful eye out and see if you spot any squirrels.
If it’s been a while and you haven’t seen a squirrel or any other animal go near your tomatoes during the day, you may be dealing with a nocturnal animal. Hedgehogs and badgers may be responsible, as they do eat plants despite their diets being primarily insects and other small animals.
How to protect tomatoes from squirrels? 7 ways
So how can you keep squirrels out of your garden and away from tomatoes?
First, you should think about what you’re willing to do to keep them away. In my case, I really don’t want to hurt the squirrels, but at the same time, they should get out of my garden.
Many people are also asking what do squirrels eat? Well, the list of their food is really long, so the tips I’m going to give you can help to save much more than just the tomatoes in your garden!
So, here are 7 effective ways to protect your garden without hurting the squirrels!
1 – Get a dog or a cat
A common approach is to try and attract predators to your garden, such as foxes or birds of prey, or, more simply, get a cat or a dog out to guard it.
It goes without saying that this could eventually end in injury or death for some of those unlucky squirrels. However, they will be much less likely to hang around your garden and go somewhere else, because the risk would not be worth it.
Dogs love to chase squirrels around, and even if they may never catch one, it still causes a lot of stress for the squirrels and forces them to waste their energy running away, so they have to look for more food to survive.
If you want to keep squirrels away from your plants but aren’t willing to accept a small chance that they may get hurt, then keep reading and try out the following 100% harmless methods instead.
2 – Create Barriers for the squirrels
Putting a physical barrier between wild animals and your crops is an obvious, but usually very effective, solution. You could make use of a mesh such as chicken wire, hardware cloth or bird netting. Here are the best squirrel-proof options:
The Best Squirrel-Proof Barriers
Whatever material you use, remember that squirrels are obviously great climbers, and can use nearby trees to get onto things they would have trouble climbing, so you might also have to make a roof over the plants to stop them from getting in that way.
You could use a flimsier material that doesn’t support the squirrel’s weight as they climb it, but keep in mind they might also try to bite through it.
You should also remember that the gaps in the barrier have to be small enough that a squirrel can’t squeeze through them, and it will need to be buried far enough that they can’t dig a hole underneath.
Keep in mind that even if you had the perfect material for keeping them out, squirrels are very resourceful and will often still manage to find a way through defences like this.
It might take some extra time and effort to find out how exactly they’re getting in and what the best way to stop them is. On the other hand, with some luck, the squirrels might see even an imperfect barrier as too much effort for what’s inside.
3 – Remove Any Food And Waste
Leaving any kind of food near your plants is a sure way to attract squirrels and other animals to them.
Take a good look around your garden and near your plants to make sure nothing tasty has fallen down beneath them, and make sure any rubbish bins outside are securely closed and that nothing has fallen out.
You should also keep an eye on any bird feeders you have out, to make sure no food is falling to the ground and attracting them to the area, or that the squirrels are able to access what’s inside. I would also suggest using squirrel-proof bird feeders like the one below to avoid attracting squirrels in your garden.
Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
If the food is disappearing faster than it should be, a squirrel is probably the culprit.
4 – Use a squirrel repellent
Squirrels have a very strong sense of smell, so it may be very effective to use some kind of repellent that squirrels hate to go near. For example, they hate the smell of mint, so growing mint plants in your garden could deter them from entering.
Here’s a selection of the best hand-picked squirrel repellents:
The Best Squirrel Repellents
They also dislike the scent of cinnamon, so sprinkling some ground cinnamon near your plants should hopefully deter them.
They also hate the scent of anything spicy, like chilli or pepper.
If you own a cat or a dog, leaving some of their hair lying on the ground in your garden could also help to keep squirrels away.
There are many other substances that squirrels hate the smell of, and you could try making some of these into a spray that you can spray around your garden, though you should make sure that the substances you use won’t be harmful to your plants.
You could also buy sprays to repel squirrels, and if you do so it should be particularly effective to buy a spray that uses the scent of a predator.
Did you know that coffee can also be used as a repellent? Leftover coffee grounds are often composted, but you can also sprinkle some around your plants.
Many animals dislike the potent smell, likely because of the caffeine. It can repel squirrels and other small mammals, including cats, as well as insects like snails and ants.
As an added bonus, coffee grounds will not only keep animals away but will also add more nutrients to the soil and provide a food source for worms, whose activity also enriches the soil.
5 – Companion Planting for your tomatoes
As mentioned above, planting mint or peppermint in your garden could help to deter squirrels, as they hate the smell.
The same strategy can be taken by planting many other kinds of plants near your tomatoes. Here are some effective examples:
- Flowers such as daffodils, Geraniums, Hyacinths, Lily of the Valley or Galanthus are all known to be disliked by squirrels due to their strong scent. If you plant any of these in your garden, they’re likely to think twice before entering. As a bonus, these flowers will all make your garden look colourful and beautiful.
- Garlic is a plant that squirrels, as well as other small animals, insects, and even deer, despise due to its very strong smell and flavour. Garlic even deters fungus from growing near it, and it needs only a small amount of room in your garden to grow. This all makes it a fantastic companion for your tomato plants.
- Onions and chives are two other great options, for similar reasons as garlic. They deter squirrels and other pests and fungi due to their strong smell and taste and are generally friendly when growing next to other plants, including tomato plants. And of course, when they’re done growing they will be just as delicious as the tomatoes they helped to protect.
You should be careful and do your research if you plant something right next to your tomato plants, as some plants can damage and/or steal nutrients from them, or take up so much room in the soil that the tomato’s roots cannot fully grow.
You should also be careful that plants near your tomatoes do not grow so tall that they block out the sun and prevent the tomato plants from getting enough sunlight.
6 – Scare the squirrels
Giving the squirrels a reason not to come to your garden is another useful strategy. For instance, you could try making or playing sounds in your garden, such as noises from other animals, wind chimes, or even just leaving a radio playing.
If the sound playing is from a predator, such as a bird of prey, squirrels will have even more reasons to avoid going near your garden.
You could also purchase or create a decoy of a predator, such as an owl or other bird of prey, or a fake predator on the ground, such as a snake. Squirrels are terrified of predators like this and will certainly avoid the area no matter how attractive your garden is to them.
Here’s the best decoy predator to scare squirrels and birds away from your tomatoes:
However, they are unlikely to be fooled by this for very long once they notice the decoy never moves and will go right back to eating your food when they realise there isn’t actually any threat.
You could try relocating the decoy and the source of the sound every so often to trick them into thinking the predator is moving around.
These decoys will also work well on other small mammals and on birds, making them worthwhile to try even if you’re not yet sure what’s coming into your garden.
7 – Leave some water for the squirrels
Do squirrels like tomatoes? If they have other food and another source of water, squirrels would rather prefer not to eat tomatoes. This is because tomatoes are nightshade vegetables, which are not so good for squirrels.
There may be a reason that the nearby squirrels are looking for tomatoes, besides them just being tasty.
Tomatoes are about 95% water, which makes them extremely valuable to any animals who are having trouble getting water from elsewhere, especially during the hot summer months!
You could try leaving a container of water outside, away from your plants but where thirsty squirrels can easily find and drink from it.
Provide water to the squirrels
You may also be wondering: do squirrels eat green tomatoes? Yes, they can if they are thirsty!
This will give any nearby squirrels easy access to clean water, which in combination with other protections made against them, will hopefully make your tomatoes seem less worth the effort and risk to them.
You could also try to leave food and treats out in the same place, or even plant some extra tomatoes away from the rest so that you won’t mind the squirrels eating. This may keep them away from the rest of your plants, but there is also the danger that leaving food out will attract even more squirrels and other animals to your garden, so be cautious and see what happens.
Do squirrels eat tomatoes at night?
Squirrels are not active during the night. If your tomatoes were eaten during the night, the culprit is some other animal that is active in the dark, like for example a racoon.
However, before reaching any conclusion, you should be sure that the damage happened overnight. To do so, you should check your tomatoes as soon as it gets dark and then again before sunrise.
If you find eaten tomatoes before sunrise, then ut can’t be squirrels, because they would just be sleeping when is dark.
Whether it’s done to help sustainability and save the environment, by having a more sustainable lifestyle, save money or for its health benefits, it’s rapidly becoming more common to be growing your own food at home.
Homegrown food is one of the amazing examples of sustainability, helping to reduce the emissions caused by the transport of food and reducing waste.
Home-grown food is nutritious, tastes amazing, and gives you a feeling of satisfaction that you don’t get from buying vegetables at a store. Tomatoes are a fantastic option for growing food in your own garden and improving self-sustainability, especially if you’re just starting out. They’re easy to grow and are tasty and nutritious.
The answer to the common question “do squirrels eat tomatoes?” is that, unfortunately, squirrels may eat tomatoes, especially if they are thirsty and you may have to deter them from entering your garden.
Here’s a summary of the 7 best methods to keep squirrels out of your garden without hurting them:
- Get a dog or a cat
- Create Barriers for the squirrels
- Remove Any Food And Waste
- Use a squirrel repellent
- Companion Planting for your tomatoes
- Scare the squirrels
- Leave some water for the squirrels
You may need to use a combination of these methods to fully protect your garden, so try them all out and see what’s most effective for keeping the squirrels out.
With enough persistence and a little bit of luck, you’ll surely be able to enjoy your tomatoes without any of them going missing when you aren’t looking!