Tomatoes are yummy plants that everyone loves, but unfortunately this includes a range of animals. They can be eaten by birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs and raccoons. Protect tomatoes using chicken wire or raising the garden beds 3-4 feet off the ground.
Below are some of the most-common animals found in the garden and some ways to stop them from coming back.
10 Animals That Eat Tomato Plants
Tomatoes are very popular plants to eat for the following animals:
You can usually tell when local birds are eating your tomatoes because you’ll notice the “pecking” pattern on the plant itself.
The best way to keep them away from your tomatoes is to place a mesh net over the plants or plant more bird-friendly flowers in your garden, such as marigolds or sunflowers.
Chipmunks are cute creatures, but you naturally don’t want them eating your tomato plants. They love hiding in piles of leaves, so they are frequently found in your garden.
They are difficult to get rid of because they are agile jumpers, and they usually eat just the tomato and not the leaves or stems.
Just like chipmunks, squirrels are very agile and can get just about anywhere they want to be, so placing a mesh “cage” over your plants is one of the few ways to keep them away from your tomato plants.
You can also place a fake owl or snake somewhere nearby, but you’ll have to change them frequently because squirrels get used to them quickly.
Rabbits love tomatoes but will eat them without making a mess. They don’t travel far from home so it’ll be easy to find where they live.
Wire protection over your tomatoes is essential because rabbits can jump and dig. Make sure the wire goes into the ground a few inches to stop them from digging underneath.
Groundhogs are very messy eaters, which is how you can tell they were there. They also love corn, beans, and peas. They do great damage to the plants and are super-fast underground, so it’s best to let a professional exterminator get rid of them in a humane way.
Raccoons are very intelligent animals and very avid climbers, which makes them almost impossible to control.
The best solution is to prevent them from getting into your garden in the first place by doing things such as keeping your pets’ food inside and making sure all outdoor garbage cans are shut tight.
Deer have voracious appetites and can eat around 7 pounds of vegetation every day. They love tomato plants and will devour every bit of it.
Strong-smelling deterrents will work for a short time, but the best long-term deterrent is a dog, whose bark and scent will chase the deer away.
If your tomato plants are completely severed and destroyed, you might have voles in your tomato garden. The only thing you can do to eliminate voles from your garden is to destroy their tunnels, which can be hard to do.
Most often, predators such as owls and hawks eventually get to the voles, which means you don’t have to do anything about them yourself.
Rats are nocturnal feeders and tend to eat the lower fruit of the tomato plant. They love tomatoes and can be somewhat difficult to control
It’s recommended that you get rid of them either by placing traps around your garden or hiring a professional exterminator to do it for you.
Skunks are also nocturnal feeders and of all the animals that get to your tomato plants, they do the least amount of damage.
The best way to get rid of skunks is to call an exterminator because they can be difficult to get rid of otherwise.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to protect your tomato plants from various animals, including the following:
Chicken wire has small holes in it, making it perfect for keeping most animals away from your garden plants. Just make sure you cover the top of your tomatoes as well because animals such as squirrels will be able to get in anyway!
If you make your garden beds taller than usual, up to 3-4 feet in height. This will can deter most animals because they won’t be interested in climbing that high. If you also include a small fence just a few inches high around the garden, that’s even better.
While there are natural repellents you can make yourself, some people think it’s easier to use repellent sprays that are commercially available.
Many of them now include more eco-friendly ingredients, which means you can feel better about using them.
This isn’t a literal fence but uses a repellent to keep animals away. Use the repellent all around your garden for the best results, but also know that this method works best with small animals and not larger ones.
Many people are skeptical of using a scarecrow or owl statue to keep animals from eating your tomatoes, but both of them work like a charm.
They do not need to be right in the middle of your garden; placing it on the outside of the garden works well most of the time.
This is a great solution to keep away larger animals, and if you’re handy with tools, it should be easy to build as well. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, either – just a plain wooden fence will do.
Finally, you can always choose to plant your tomatoes in pots instead of a garden. This way, you can bring them inside whenever you need to, including during inclement weather and when certain animals start to get near them.
Just like humans, animals love tomatoes, but when you’re not excited about them being in your garden, there are things you can do about it. A physical barrier is the best way to keep pesky animals off your tomato plants and chicken wire workss best.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.