Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes at Night – How Do I Keep Squirrels From Eating Tomatoes?

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes

Do squirrels eat tomatoes? You might think that this is a silly question, but for many tomato growers, it is a serious problem. Squirrels are one of the most common pests that attack tomato plants, and they can cause a lot of damage in a short time. They can bite off the stems, leaves, and fruits, leaving behind a mess of half-eaten tomatoes and broken branches

But how can you stop them? Is there a way to deter them without harming them? We will share some tips and tricks to protect your tomatoes from squirrels.

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes

Yes, squirrels do eat tomatoes at night.
Yes, squirrels do eat tomatoes at night.

Yes, squirrels do eat tomatoes at night. Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will sample many types of fruits and vegetables in backyards and gardens. Tomatoes offer squirrels a tasty combination of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The squirrel’s excellent sense of smell allows it to easily locate ripe tomatoes ready for eating. Squirrels will gnaw directly through the tomato skin and flesh, leaving jagged edges, holes, and surface damage on fruits. Half-eaten tomatoes with squirrel teeth marks are a telltale sign of their feeding.

In addition to eating tomato fruits, squirrels may also occasionally nibble on the plant’s leaves, stems, buds, and even green fruits. Such damage is typically minimal compared to their destruction of ripening tomatoes though.

Once squirrels discover tomato plants, they may return daily to raid and pillage them. Squirrels will target tomatoes throughout the growing season and can devastate a backyard crop.

Protecting ripening tomatoes from squirrels is tricky but important for any gardener wanting to enjoy their own tomato harvest. Fencing, scare devices, and repellent sprays are some humane ways to deter foraging squirrels and keep the tomato fruits safe for you.

Are Tomatoes Good for Squirrels?

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes
Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes

Yes, tomatoes can be a nutritious treat for squirrels. Though they primarily eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi in the wild, squirrels can benefit from the vitamins and nutrients found in ripe tomatoes.

Specifically, tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. Lycopene promotes good vision and heart health in squirrels. Tomatoes also provide dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A – all beneficial components of a squirrel’s varied diet.

The soft, juicy flesh and mild sweet taste of tomatoes seem to appeal to most squirrels’ palates as well. Squirrels will readily seek out tomato plants in backyards and gardens for snack time foraging.

While Squirrels can have tomatoes, tomatoes make a fine supplemental food, they should not constitute the mainstay of a squirrel’s diet. An excess of any fruit or vegetable can lead to diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset in squirrels. For optimum nutrition and health, squirrels need to eat diverse components including buds, nuts, bark, eggs, and insects in addition to fruit.

Can Squirrels Eat Cherry Tomatoes?

Can Squirrels Eat Cherry Tomatoes
Can Squirrels Eat Cherry Tomatoes

Yes, squirrels can and will eat cherry tomatoes. The smaller size and sweet taste of cherry tomatoes seem to be especially enticing for squirrels looking for a quick, tasty snack in the garden.

Since cherry tomatoes are petite and grow in clusters close to the ground, they are easy targets for squirrels to quickly pick off and carry away. Squirrels will nibble through the thin skins to devour the juicy flesh inside cherry tomatoes.

All varieties of cherry tomatoes including red, yellow, orange, green, black, and striped are sought after by foraging squirrels in backyards. The high sugar content and soft texture of ripe cherry tomatoes is similar to candies or berries that squirrels relish.

Though small, cherry tomatoes still provide beneficial nutrition for squirrels including vitamins A, C and B complex as well as magnesium, potassium and fiber. This makes tomato plants a desirable source of supplemental food for squirrels.

Do Squirrels Eat Green Tomatoes?

Do Squirrels Eat Green Tomatoes
Do Squirrels Eat Green Tomatoes

No, squirrels generally do not eat green tomatoes. Squirrels prefer ripe red tomatoes over unripe green ones. There are a few reasons for this:

Ripe red tomatoes have a sweeter, more aromatic taste and flesh compared to tart, acidic-tasting green tomatoes. Squirrels’ sensitive taste buds likely find the strong flavors of green tomatoes unpleasant or unpalatable.

As tomatoes ripen, they give off stronger scents that appeal to squirrels’ keen sense of smell. Green tomatoes emit very little odor so squirrels cannot detect them as easily.

Mature red tomatoes have softer, juicier insides whereas green tomatoes have a firm, crunchy flesh that squirrels find less appetizing as food.

Squirrels can see color and are able to differentiate between the dark green skin of an unripe tomato versus the bright red hue signaling a tasty, sweet treat ready for eating.

In very rare cases of severe drought or food scarcity, a desperate squirrel may sample a small bite of green tomato. But the astringent, sour flavor invariably causes it to reject green tomatoes overall.

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes in California?

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes in California
Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes in California

Yes, squirrels readily eat tomatoes in California. The Golden State’s ideal climate for growing tomatoes also makes backyard gardens and farms highly vulnerable to tomato-munching squirrels.

Three species of tree squirrels are found throughout California – the eastern gray squirrel and native western gray squirrel and California ground squirrel. All three will feast on ripening tomatoes when discovered in gardens. Droughts increase squirrels’ drives to seek out supplemental food and water sources like tomatoes as well.

California’s Central Valley offers a particularly abundant buffet for tomato-loving squirrels. Huge volumes of tomatoes are commercially grown in the region, providing bordering rural and wild lands with plenty of fresh tomatoes to invade. Squirrels are actually considered agricultural pests that can damage tomato and other crop yields when left unchecked near farms.

Urban and suburban tomato growers also battle squirrels persistently from San Diego to San Francisco. Squirrels nimbly climb tomatoes cages, nibble through protective netting, and clean off fruits overnight once they target backyard vegetable patches and container plants.

How Do I Keep Squirrels From Eating My Tomatoes?

Put up fencing or netting around the plants. Chicken wire or plastic bird netting works well to create a physical barrier. Make sure there are no gaps for squirrels to get through.

Spray plants with hot pepper wax, garlic spray, or other strong scents that squirrels dislike. Reapply after rain.

Provide alternative food sources away from the garden, like corn cobs or bird feeders, to distract and divert squirrels.

Scare squirrels away with motion-activated sprinklers or noisemakers. Squirrels frighten easily when startled by sudden bursts of water or loud sounds.

Use plastic owl decoys or hanging mylar tape near plants. The fluttering objects will scare off squirrels.

Keep the ground clear around plants. Prune back branches and vegetation so squirrels have fewer entry points and hiding spots.

Apply taste repellents like bitter apple spray to plants. The bad flavor should deter squirrels from taking another bite. Reapply after a couple rainfalls.

What Other Rodent Eat Tomatoes

Voles: These small rodents are known to burrow under gardens and nibble on vegetables and fruits at ground level or below. They tend to eat irregular holes and channels into tomatoes.

Rats: Both roof/black rats and Norway/brown rats will feed on ripe tomatoes, usually leaving big jagged chunks or holes chewed into fruits. They often target tomatoes close to the ground.

Mice: Field mice and house mice will climb up tomato cages or stems to eat tomatoes. Their smaller teeth make little holes or surface nibbles on fruits.

Groundhogs/Woodchucks: When fruits are low and accessible, groundhogs are able to consume entire tomatoes in just a few bites using their large front teeth.

Chipmunks: Though they primarily eat seeds and nuts, chipmunks do occasionally feed on fruits like tomatoes when available. Their small incisors leave small bite marks.

Rabbits: Both domestic and wild rabbits are known to hop into gardens and take bites of ripening tomatoes within reach. They tend to leave clean cut marks.

Using fencing, scare tactics, and repellents can help deter all these Tomato Thieves. Be sure to protect fruits at all levels – both up high and down low near the ground.

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away From Tomatoes?

Yes, used coffee grounds can be an effective deterrent against squirrels nibbling on tomato plants or stealing their ripe fruits. There are a few reasons why squirrels dislike coffee grounds:

Strong scent – coffee grounds have a potent, bitter aroma that squirrels find overpowering and unpleasant. Since squirrels rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food, the intense coffee smells can mask more appealing scents like that of ripe tomatoes.

Texture – the gritty, coarse feel of dried coffee grounds on plants and surrounding soil creates an uncomfortable barrier for soft-padded squirrel paws.

Taste – if squirrels attempt to bite through coffee grounds coating a tomato, they will get an awful bitter flavor in their mouths. This triggers them to avoid taking any more bites.

To use coffee grounds, simply sprinkle a 1-2 inch layer liberally around the base of tomato plants, as well as the soil along garden borders or fences. You can also place small dishes of used grounds near plants. Re-apply the grounds after heavy rains. Combining grounds with cayenne pepper takes advantage of two squirrel repellents in one.

The caffeine in coffee grounds won’t harm squirrels, but will make them think twice about crossing into your garden! Used wisely, coffee ground barriers can outsmart those tomato bandits and let you enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Check gardens daily and pick ripe tomatoes promptly to get them safely into your kitchen before the squirrels do!

About Irfan Iqbal DVM

Hi, Dr irfan here, i have done Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from UVAS, Lahore which is one of the university of pakistan.

i have extensive experience in
1-Disease diagnosis
3-neutring, spaying,
5-urinary catheter passing, ear cropping, tail docking and other surgeries.
6- restraining, handling of pets especially dogs and cats
7- expert in management of feed and nutritional requirements
8- Dog training and basic obedience to owner.
9- teaching commands like sit, come, stop, as well as litre training and name recognizing

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