Will deer eat potato plants? It would be crazy for any gardening enthusiast not to worry about these animals at the sight of them in their potato garden.
We all know that deer delight in feeding on almost every plant, and the damages it leaves are unimaginable. Let’s dig in to see if you should get worried about your potato yields or let the idea of deer feeding on them slide.
- Will Deer Eat Potato Plants?
- Why Do Deer Eat Potatoes?
- How To Keep Deer from Eating Potato Plants?
Will Deer Eat Potato Plants?
Yes, deer will eat potatoes, but not as their primary option. The animal makes the potato their food source if there is no other vegetation within the area. Their lack of interest is due to how they are in the ground, and digging them up is not interesting for deer.
The foliage is also not enticing as it has a bitter taste the animal tries to avoid. However, some varieties, such as sweet potatoes<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, have a sweet taste, and deer will dig the tuber and eat the potato vine.
Why Do Deer Eat Potatoes?
Deer eat potatoes whenever they are hungry and it is the only plant option found, although these vegetables aren’t their favorite option in accordance to their digestion. However, upon finding them, and the availability, they will eat it as a source of water and nutrients.
Deer are a type of hoofed mammal found in various habitats worldwide, including forests, grasslands, and mountains. There are several different species of deer, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, and elk, which are known for their characteristic antlers. These antlers are used by males in mating rituals and as weapons against predators and other males.
– Plant Options
As herbivores, deer primarily feed on plants, including grasses, leaves, twigs, and bark. In the wild, they often browse on various plants, depending on what is available in their habitat. Some deer may also eat fruit, fungi, and other available plant matter. Domestic deer, such as those kept on farms, may be fed a commercial deer feed diet designed to provide them with the nutrients they need.
– Food Digestion
Often, the diet of ruminant animals is determined by their digestive system. In addition, also remember that since the potato plant does not fit the digestive profile, it can be a reason dear eat it when there is no more vegetation to sustain it.
These mammals are ruminants, meaning they have a unique digestive system from ours that allows them to extract nutrients from the plants they eat. The reason why they are prone to eat them and have a bit of challenging aspect is that their stomachs have four compartments, which help to break down the plant material they consume.
The first compartment, called “the rumen,” is home to billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that help to ferment the plant material and extract nutrients. When they eat potato plants, it will be the part that will extract the carbs or starch content that is in the potato.
– Finding Food
Deer are generally solitary animals, although they may form small herds, particularly during the mating season. These mammals are intelligent and leave trails where they get food.
It makes it easier for them to return to the same spot without wandering. They also find or build a habitat nearby the food source to make it easier for them to access the food source and later rest after feeding.
Their trail-leaving habit invites their small herds, and it is not surprising to find your garden infested by these mammals after a few days of spotting the first deer. On the other hand, in the wild, deer use their keen senses of hearing, sight, and smell to detect predators and find food. They are agile runners and swimmers who can move quickly to escape danger.
– Food Availability
Deer diet can vary depending on the season and food availability, and when they find potatoes that are found in the ground, through sniffing, and they don’t find anything else, they will go for the spuds, because of the availability.
When plants are plentiful in the spring and summer, deer may feed on grass and other vegetation. In the fall and winter, when food is scarcer, deer may rely more on woody plants, such as twigs and bark, to provide them with the nutrients they need, basically eating whatever is available.
Water is important in deer diet, and potatoes are ones that are rich in this content. It is because the mammal feeds on rough foliage that requires a lot of water for digestion. When food is in plenty, deer take advantage of plants that contain a lot of water in the foliage, which can be why they devour some varieties like sweet potato, that are rich in water, and sweet in taste.
Think about the woody plants when there is little vegetation, these food options or relatively dry, and deer need water for digestion and hydration.
But when feeding on dry foliage, deer get their water from water sources and can bite snow and ice for the source. Digestion of proteins and fats from its body, which is the metabolism, would be another water source to help with the animal’s digestion, and to smooth out the right manner.
How To Keep Deer from Eating Potato Plants?
To keep deer from eating potato plants, you can always install a fence, and apply deer repellents. In addition, you can also use decoys, and place some noise deterrents, or you can add reflective materials, and even set some netting.
Although deer shun most of this plant’s varieties, they are not entirely resistant. They are called so because deer do not pick them first when they land in your garden. But the mammal will eat anything to get rid of hunger. Because they can invade the garden in herds and cause you unimaginable damage.
– Install Fence
A deer fence is the most effective barrier to keep deer out. A deer fence should be at least 10 feet tall and made of a sturdy material such as mesh or wire. It is because deer can jump up to nine feet, and the fence is useless if it is shorter as the mammal will let itself inside.
Install the fence at ground level and bury it a few inches to prevent deer from digging under it. Six inches are good, but if you can dig deeper, the better, so that the crops won’t be bitten whenever these animals do not find anything else.
– Apply Deer Repellents
These are chemicals that are applied to plants and create an unpleasant taste or odor that deer find unappealing. Many different types of deer repellents are available, including sprays, granules, and stakes, which are challenging barriers that will keep them away.
Some of the most effective repellents contain ingredients such as hot pepper, garlic, and predator urine. These ingredients make the deer feel disgusted and can flee the area in search of one with vegetative smells. You may also them to your plants according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
– Use Decoys
You can take advantage of decoys or fake animals to prevent deer from eating potatoes. The idea behind using decoys is to create the illusion that a predator is present in the area, which can deter deer from entering and grazing on the plants. This technique is based on deer’s natural fear of predators, such as wolves and coyotes.
Place the decoys near the potatoes and position them in a way that makes them appear to be realistic and lifelike. Since deer are intelligent mammals, move the decoys around regularly to prevent the deer from becoming accustomed to their presence. Using multiple decoys can be more effective than using just one.
Although decoys effectively prevent deer from infesting your garden, they are not a foolproof solution. After roaming around your garden waiting for the predator to leave, so they can enjoy a good feed, they begin to ignore them. They notice a lack of movement, and their sharp-smelling senses help them notice something off about the fake animals.
They can be expensive, especially for gardeners who cannot make DIY ones and must rely on buying them and require regular maintenance.
– Place Noise Deterrents
Deer find loud noises unpleasant, and you can take advantage of this to keep them away from your plants. Use devices that are triggered by motion to make high-pitched noises, whistles, or sudden, startling sounds.
These devices get triggered when they sense deer movement, and the loud noise can be enough to frighten them away from your potato plants.
You can also use high-frequency sound devices that produce only sounds audible to deer. We have seen deer have sharp hearing senses and can hear sounds other animals cannot. These sounds can annoy deer and help keep them away from your plants.
– Add Reflective Materials
Reflective materials, such as shiny tape or strips of foil, can help create a barrier around your potato plants. The reflection works by blurring the animal’s vision, making the plants appear to be moving, and this can scare deer since it is wise enough not to put itself in dangerous situations.
Use these materials to build a barrier or distribute them strategically in your garden for efficiency.
– Set Netting
Netting is not done in the same way as fencing. It is because you cannot find a strong net that can withstand deer weight, and even if the animal jump over it and does not succeed, falling over it is equally a win.
For efficiency, netting is done over the plants. It is used with other methods, such as fencing, to protect the plants.
1. Do Deer Eat Cooked Potatoes?
No. Deer are herbivores, and their primary food source is plants.
Since potatoes are not their primary preference, the smell of cooked potatoes can disgust them more.
2. What Vegetables Do Deer Not Eat?
Deer eat all types of vegetation. However, when they have alternative food to fight hunger, these mammals keep off vegetables with strong smells, such as garlic. They also avoid vegetables with prickly leaves and those they must dig to eat.
3. Do Deer Eat Potato Vines?
Deer are not likely to eat the vines because they are poisonous to them and have an unpleasant bitter taste. Potatoes are a type of tuber which grows underground and is not part of a deer’s diet. Deer are more likely to eat leaves, stems, and other parts of plants that grow above ground and are not potentially toxic to their bodies.
Planting potato or spuds is exciting when you think about what you can do with them when they mature. The joyousness can be short-lived after identifying deer. Here is a summary of deer and potato plants:
- Although most gardeners classify potato as deer resistant, they are not. Deer will happily munch on them, especially when there is a food shortage.
- Deer don’t herd alone in the mating season and can attract their herds into your garden through the trails they create.
- Since deer are big animals, it is easy to identify them in your garden.
How long have you wanted to plant some potatoes but have been hesitant because you are afraid of deer in your region? Although they can devour the plants, you can still plant them and use precautionary measures to keep them away.
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