12 Animal Enemies of Your Garden

From squirrels to deer to moles, be aware of the damage these small and large animals can do to your garden and how to fight back.

May 11, 2020

Photo By: Image courtesy of Addison Wood

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Deer

Deer certainly can leave their mark in your garden. You'll know they've visited when you see jagged leaf edges on plants and of course their distinctive hoof prints. Deer won't discriminate when they're hungry enough, though they generally leaves these plants alone: succulents, poisonous plants, pungent flavored plants and plants with hairy or furry leaves. More deer resistant plants.

Voles

Voles are pests that burrow under the garden, disturbing plant roots. They also tunnel under ripening fruit, and up into it from the bottom in search of seeds. Look for partially eaten potatoes or carrots as evidence of vole activity. These furry fellows will also devour newly sown seeds, and feed on most flower bulbs, though they will leave daffodils alone.

Learn More : How to Get Rid of Moles and Voles

Moles

Moles belong to the shrew family. They're roughly seven inches long from their snouts to their tails and weigh two to four ounces. Because of their small size, they can be in your yard and you won't know it until you spot their tunnels and volcano-shaped mounds or step into a soft spot they've created. Many people think they eat plants, but they're really voracious insectivores, gobbling up 90 percent of their weight in bugs, worms and other creatures every day. They have tiny eyes, so they can't see well, and ears under their thick fur, which is usually brown, black or gray. They dig with the big claws on their paddle-shaped front feet.

Learn More : How to Get Rid of Moles and Voles

Squirrels

Squirrels will attack young seedlings, berries, fruits and vegetables and are well known for their ability to dig up bulbs, eat freshly-planted seeds and eat maturing root crops. Squirrels are particularly crafty at garden theft. Fencing can be successful at preventing squirrel damage, and you may be able to annoy the pests away with sprinkler systems, sensitive motion lights, high-frequency sound emitters or a variety of scent-based repellants, like garlic, hot peppers or animal urine.

Learn More : 9 Ways to Get Rid of Squirrels

Rabbits

Rabbits make quick work of plants — and they're not picky. They'll chow down on your peas, beans, lettuce, petunias and even potted plants. When they're the culprits behind vanishing plants, you'll often find leaves missing with stems intact or stubs where an entire plant used to stand. To keep rabbits at bay, try repellents, chicken wire, netting or a free-running dog (with an underground fence). Clean up yard debris that could give rabbits hiding places, and plug any holes that lead under sheds, decks or porches.

Learn More : Banishing Bunnies From the Garden

Skunks

Sure, from a distance they're kind of cute. But not only are these nocturnal mammals capable of stinking up the joint, they can also make off with your best produce under cover of night. And scaring them away with a broom is not a great option unless you want to end up soaking in tomato juice all night.

Learn More : Making a Stink: How To Keep Skunks Out of Your Garden

Prairie Dog

While prairie dogs can cause damage to crops and pastures, they are beneficial to the ecosystem because they help till soil through burrowing and add nutrients to the soil. A preferred method of discouraging prairie dog communities is to trap and relocate them.

Raccoons

Don't be fooled by the soft eyes and contrite expression. Clever and vicious, backyard chicken keepers know that raccoons are killers if given a chance. They have been known to kill for sport as well as sustenance. If there is a weakness in your coop security, raccoons are likely to find it. And once dusk falls, free rangers who haven't made their way back to the nest are at risk.

Learn More : Thwarting Raccoons in the Garden

Birds

Birds eat insect pests in the garden but they also eat entire fruits and vegetables or pick at them, making them inedible. The focus of pest control in the garden is to protect plants or trees from bird predation through physical barriers like netting.

Chipmunk

There are 16 species of chipmunks native to North America, the most prevalent being the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus). The eastern chipmunk, found across the eastern United States, is 5 to 6 inches long with two tan and five black lines down its back. Easily identified, chipmunks are a common sight in woodlands and suburban areas. Foraging omnivores, they feed on grains, nuts, seeds and insects. Chipmunks will also consume flower bulbs and small seedlings. In most circumstances, a chipmunk presence is tolerated without management. Chipmunks' burrowing can damage landscaping and sidewalks. Use cayenne pepper to keep them away. Some recommend sprinkling bloodmeal around your garden. It's believed that chipmunks don't like the smell of it.

Learn More : How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

Field Mice

Field mice burrow under the garden, disturbing plant roots. Traps and bait are the most common methods of ridding your garden. If this doesn't work, get a cat.

Gophers

Gophers dig tunnels like moles, but unlike moles, gophers love to eat your garden plants. To get rid of them, try castor oil granules. Keep in mind that castor oil products don't actually harm gophers, they simply send them scurrying elsewhere.

Learn More : How to Get Rid of Gophers, Moles and Armadillos

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