What Forest Animals Eat Plants?

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Keep crows from invading your garden for sweet corn and grains.
Keep crows from invading your garden for sweet corn and grains. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

While some forest animals are carnivorous and only eat other animals, other forest animals are omnivorous or herbivorous and spend their time foraging for food. When these animals come into the garden, your plants, whether they are decorative flowers or nourishing vegetables, can suffer. Learning about what forest animals eat plants and how you can keep them out of your yard and garden allows you to enjoy what you plant.

Deer

Deer are relentless foragers who will eat both vegetables and herbaceous plants in your garden. To identify deer damage, look for damaged foliage that has a torn, jagged edge. As deer have no upper incisors, they seize the plants and pull them away. To prevent deer damage, one option is fencing. Build a fence that is at least 7 to 10 feet high, or cage each vulnerable plant. Deer repellents range from using synthesized predator urine to spraying the plants with a mixture of egg and water or hot sauce and water.

Squirrels

Squirrels are a member of the rodent family, and they are comfortable both on the ground and climbing in the trees. In the wild, they forage for a wide variety of nuts, berries and plants, and in the garden, they eat everything from vegetables to flower bulbs and freshly-planted seeds. They may also strip the bark from your trees and shrubs, and drive birds away from bird feeders in order to eat the seed. Live traps allow you to catch the squirrels and release them elsewhere, and there are repellents available at hardware stores that may be sprayed in problematic areas in order to keep squirrels away. Alternatively, there are seeds available in most home-improvement stores that squirrels do not like but birds do, such as safflower seeds. Putting safflower seeds in your feeder will allow you to enjoy the birds without the hassle of squirrels.

Rabbits

Rabbits are adapted to both urban and rural environments, and they are entirely herbivorous, using their long incisors to snip away vegetation. They cause extensive damage to both flowers and vegetables, eating the leafy foliage and occasionally digging down for the roots as well. Fencing that is at least 2 feet high and buried 1 inch in the ground excludes rabbits, as do repellents. Clear away brush so that rabbits feel more exposed and less comfortable, and use live humane traps to trap the rabbits and release them elsewhere.

Crows

Crows are medium-sized birds from the Corvidae family. They are a shiny black and tend to travel in large flocks or groups. While these birds are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of animals and insects as well as plants, they can be serious pests in vegetable gardens. They target sweet corn and other grains, and they will also eat fruit, sunflowers, and pecans. Control crows through visual frightening techniques, like hanging up shiny balloons or strips of foil, or through auditory frightening techniques, like recorded crow distress calls. Change these techniques regularly to keep the crows from becoming accustomed to them.

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