Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes? Exploring the Eating Habits of Squirrels in Your Garden

If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you know how much time and effort goes into cultivating them. From planting and watering to pruning and fertilizing, growing tomatoes is a labor of love. So, it’s no wonder that gardeners get frustrated when they find their precious tomatoes have been eaten by squirrels. But do squirrels really eat tomatoes? The answer is yes, they do.

Squirrels are known to eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Tomatoes are no exception, and in fact, they are a favorite of many squirrels. Squirrels are clever creatures that can climb trees and jump from branch to branch with ease.

They can also dig holes and tunnels in the ground, which can make it difficult to keep them away from your garden. So, what can you do to protect your tomatoes from these furry pests?

Key Takeaways:

  • Squirrels do eat tomatoes, and they can cause significant damage to your plants.
  • Understanding squirrel behavior and signs of their activity can help you prevent them from eating your tomatoes.
  • There are several preventive measures and solutions you can use to keep squirrels away from your garden, including using natural repellents, creating barriers, and providing alternative food sources.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior

Squirrels are fascinating creatures that can be found in a variety of environments, including gardens. Understanding squirrel behavior is important if you want to protect your garden from damage. Here are some key things to know about squirrels and their behavior.

Natural Diet of Squirrels

Squirrels are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods. Their natural diet consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and fungi. They are also known to eat small animals such as insects, birds, and even small mammals.

Squirrels have strong teeth that are designed for gnawing and can easily chew through hard shells of nuts and seeds.

Squirrels in the Garden Environment

Squirrels are common visitors to gardens, especially those with fruit and nut trees. They are attracted to the abundance of food and will often climb trees to get to the fruit. Squirrels are also known to dig up bulbs and root vegetables, which can be frustrating for gardeners.

The Attraction to Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the many foods that squirrels enjoy. The juicy texture and bright colors of tomatoes make them visually appealing to squirrels. Additionally, tomatoes emit a distinct smell that acts as a natural beacon, signaling to squirrels that a tasty treat awaits. If you have tomato plants in your garden, it’s important to take steps to protect them from squirrels.

Signs of Squirrel Activity

If you are wondering whether squirrels are eating your tomato plants, there are several signs to look for. Here are some physical evidence that may indicate squirrel activity on your tomato plants:

Physical Evidence on Tomato Plants

Squirrels have a tendency to leave behind half-eaten tomatoes with large holes on one side. If you see chewed-up tomatoes on your plants, it’s likely that squirrels are the culprits. Additionally, you may notice that some of the leaves or stems have been nibbled on or stripped away.

Squirrel Tracks and Droppings

Another way to tell if squirrels are eating your tomatoes is by looking for their tracks and droppings. Squirrel tracks are usually small and have four toes on the front and five on the back.

You may also notice small piles of droppings around your tomato plants, which are typically small, cylindrical, and dark in color.

Nocturnal vs. Diurnal Activity Patterns

Squirrels are primarily active during the day, but they may also feed on your tomato plants at night. If you suspect that squirrels are eating your tomatoes, try observing your plants at different times of the day to determine when the damage is occurring.

By keeping an eye out for these signs of squirrel activity, you can take steps to protect your tomato plants from these pesky critters.

Preventive Measures and Solutions

If you are struggling with squirrels eating your tomatoes, don’t worry, there are several preventive measures and solutions you can try to keep them away.

Fencing and Physical Barriers

One of the most effective solutions is to build a fence or physical barrier around your tomato plants.

You can use heavy-duty hardware cloth to create a cage or a simple fence that is 18 inches tall and buried 6 inches below ground to prevent ground squirrels from digging under it. Make sure the fence is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the squirrels.

Natural Repellents

Another solution is to use natural repellents to keep squirrels away from your tomatoes. You can use repellent sprays made of chili peppers, peppermint oil, or garlic. These sprays can be commercially available or homemade.

You can apply them directly to your developing tomatoes to deter hungry critters. Remember to wash it off before you eat them!

Squirrel-Proofing Your Garden

Finally, squirrel-proofing your garden is another effective solution. You can do this by planting tomatoes in containers or hanging baskets, using squirrel-proof bird feeders to distract them, or planting other plants that squirrels don’t like, such as marigolds, garlic, or onions. You can also use motion-activated sprinklers or lights to scare them away.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Try these preventive measures and solutions to keep squirrels away from your tomatoes and enjoy a bountiful harvest this season!

Alternative Food Sources

If you want to keep squirrels away from your tomato plants, you can provide them with alternative food sources. This will give them something else to eat and hopefully keep them from eating your tomatoes. Here are two options:

Feeding Stations

One option is to set up a feeding station for the squirrels. This can be a designated area in your yard where you put out food for the squirrels. You can use a squirrel feeder or just scatter nuts and seeds on the ground. This will give the squirrels a place to eat that is away from your tomato plants.

Plant Choices to Distract Squirrels

Another option is to plant other types of plants that the squirrels like to eat. This will give them something to munch on that is not your tomatoes. Some good choices include sunflowers, corn, and pumpkins. You can also try planting herbs like basil and cilantro, which squirrels tend to avoid.

Remember, providing alternative food sources is not a foolproof method for keeping squirrels away from your tomatoes. However, it can help reduce the damage they cause.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you have tried various methods to keep squirrels away from your tomato plants but the problem persists, it may be time to seek professional help.

Assessing the Severity of the Problem

Before calling a wildlife control professional, you should assess the severity of the problem. If you are only seeing a few squirrels occasionally eating your tomatoes, you may be able to solve the problem with some simple deterrents.

However, if you are seeing a large number of squirrels and they are causing significant damage to your tomato plants, it may be time to call in a professional.

Wildlife Control Professionals

Wildlife control professionals are trained to handle a variety of animal control issues, including squirrels. They can assess the situation and determine the best course of action to solve the problem. Some methods they may use include trapping and relocating the squirrels, using exclusion devices to keep them away from your tomato plants, or using repellents to discourage them from coming near your garden.

When choosing a wildlife control professional, make sure they are licensed and insured. You can also ask for references and check online reviews to ensure they have a good reputation. Keep in mind that some methods of squirrel control may be more humane than others, so be sure to discuss your options with the professional before making a decision.

Remember, if you are experiencing a severe squirrel problem that is causing damage to your tomato plants, it may be best to seek professional help. They can help you find a solution that is both effective and humane.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can squirrels eat all types of tomatoes, including cherry tomatoes?

Yes, squirrels can eat all types of tomatoes, including cherry tomatoes. They have a strong sense of smell and can easily detect ripe tomatoes. Once they find them, they will take a bite out of them and move on to the next one.

How can I prevent squirrels from eating my garden tomatoes?

There are several ways to prevent squirrels from eating your garden tomatoes. You can use physical barriers such as cages or netting to keep them away. You can also try using natural deterrents such as hot pepper spray, garlic, or predator urine. Another option is to plant herbs or flowers that squirrels dislike, such as marigolds or mint.

Are there any vegetables that squirrels typically avoid?

Squirrels tend to avoid vegetables that have a strong smell or taste, such as onions, garlic, and hot peppers. They also tend to avoid vegetables that are bitter, such as eggplants and radishes.

Do squirrels cause damage to tomato plants during the nighttime?

Squirrels are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. However, they may still cause damage to tomato plants during the nighttime if they are hungry or if there is a shortage of food.

What natural deterrents can keep squirrels away from my tomato plants?

Some natural deterrents that can keep squirrels away from your tomato plants include hot pepper spray, garlic, predator urine, and planting herbs or flowers that squirrels dislike.

Is it safe to consume tomatoes that have been nibbled on by squirrels?

It is generally safe to consume tomatoes that have been nibbled on by squirrels, as long as the damage is not too severe. However, it is important to wash the tomatoes thoroughly before eating them to remove any bacteria or dirt that may be present.

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