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Do deer eat peanut butter? Peanuts?

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Perhaps you've heard that deer love nuts, many like peanuts, and so maybe peanut butter is also a treat they enjoy? We've decided to put this hypothesis to the test and offer our deer some peanut butter.

peanut butter on a plate for the deer

Results. Not all deer, and not straight away, but soon enough several heads were competing for access to the peanut butter plate. Here's one happy customer, Top10 the deer:

deer licked peanut butter off the plate

We have since tried making 'peanut butter sandwiches' for these animals and they loved it even better, probably because they're used to bread.

Watch deer eating peanut butter sandwiches

Deer eating peanut butter sandwiches, grabbing them from the plate.

Is peanut butter good for deer? Is it safe?

Look, we don't know for sure as we're not bilogists or vets, BUT we can testify deer can be fed some as a treat. We only use sugar-free and salt-free peanut butter (although salt should be fine, salt licks are well known for helping deer survive winter). We don't buy products that are anything but 95% peanuts. The less ingredients in the list the better - usually a good rule of thumb for picking most commercially made products. Same butter we offer our doggo, btw. He also enjoys some peanut butter on toasts now and again.

Theoretically, additive and sugar-free peanut butter should be a safe snack for deer. It is rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins B and E, and niacin. Being high in calories, it helps satiate faster. The key is always in small quantities though. Deer in nature hardly ever come across anything as rich in fat, except perhaps avocado, which is not their main food source anyway:

peanut butter vs avocado contents

image source

So the bottom line is, peanut butter can be either an excellent bait or a treat fot deer, but never a significant part of their diet.

Do deer enjoy peanuts?

Deer will eat peanuts once they get used to them. These animals are generally slow to take to something new, even things they will come to love. Any new food they encounter they may be suspicious of at first. But once they've tried a peanut or two - they're hooked!

deer and peanuts

Do deer like peanuts in the shell? Yes, with shells or unshelled, deer love to eat peanuts. Deer can even eat peanut shells without the peanuts. Although since peanut shells are not a significant source of nutrition for either humans or animals it's not recommended to feed deer empty peanut shells.

Will deer eat roasted or salted peanuts? Raw or roasted, even salted ones - all loved by deer. However, you should try to avoid giving them any spicy ones or those with flavor enhances. Raw is best as its most natural. But a bit of roasted nuts or lightly salted never did any harm to our deer. We're talking a handful of nuts per animal a day, of course.

Here is nutritional composition of raw peanuts:

Nutrient Amount per 100 grams
Calories 567
Protein 25.8 g
Fat 49.2 g
Carbohydrates 16.1 g
Fiber 8.5 g
Sugar 4.7 g
Calcium 92 mg
Iron 4.6 mg
Magnesium 168 mg
Phosphorus 376 mg
Potassium 705 mg
Sodium 18 mg
Zinc 3.3 mg
Thiamin (B1) 0.6 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.2 mg
Niacin (B3) 12.1 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.8 mg
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg
Folate (B9) 240 µg
Vitamin E 8.3 mg

In our experience, if we're talking nuts, deer may prefer cashews, almonds and walnuts to peanuts, but they'll gobble up all of them anyway. And all are too expensive a treat to offer regularly, unless you're growing your own. Also, other wildlife will compete with deer for peanuts, so if you just throw them on the ground and leave you can't be sure who got to them first.

Will peanut butter attract deer?

Peanut butter is a popular deer bait among hunters as it is much cheaper than most commercial deer attractants and works as well or better.

Methods of use include:

Smearing it on a tree
A quick and dirty method where all you need is some peanut butter and a knife. Simply rub it on the tree 4 to 5 feet above the deer’s head, making sure it’s within their reach.

Using the whole jar
Gather a large jar of peanut butter, a knife, and two screws or nails. Use a hammer or screwdriver to attach the peanut butter jar lid to a tree in a location about 4-5 feet above ground where deer frequently travel.
Next, use the knife to make a clean cut around the bottom of the jar, and then reattach it to the lid. To prevent squirrels from interfering with the bait, pour molasses on top of the jar since they dislike sticky substances. This will also help attract deer to the area.

Here's a video demonstration of this method:

Peanut butter on apples bait

Some hunters recommend this recipe: "Dice up the apples, microwave some peanut butter and drizzle it on all over the apples and put in the freezer for a few hours. Deer go crazy for it, and the smell of peanut butter, even when frozen will draw them in." [ source - deer attractant review ]

How far away can deer smell peanut butter?

A typical species of deer has a sense of smell that is approximately 1,000 times more powerful than our own, with deer having around 250 million scent receptors compared to our meager 5 million. [ source ]

We weren't able to find reliable sources proving this estimate, but in general most sources caim that deer can smell food from as far as 1/4 of a mile away (0.4 km). 

How to protect peanut farm from deer

If you are a peanut farmer in an area with a high deer population, it can be a major issue as peanuts are a valuable source of nutrition for deer.

peanut plants

Image by 승목 오 from Pixabay

Even a small group of deer can quickly destroy a peanut farm, especially if the crop is in the early stages of growth as it will not regrow if eaten or damaged. To prevent such damage, it is crucial to take proactive measures to protect your peanut farm from deer.

In our post dedicated to exploring ways of detering deer from your garden, we have listed many effective and ineffective solutions to this problem, just so you know what works. Check it out to find methods that best suit your needs. We talk about repellents, motion-activated sprinklers, and of course - fencing. By the way, peanut butter is even used in conjunction with elctric fence, to communicate to deer the message that it is dangerous.

"Baiting the fence, usually with a metal tab smeared with peanut butter, will make the deer contact the fence with it’s nose and tongue, wet parts that will conduct the electricity quite well. This first contact and the resulting shock on sensitive parts will educate a deer to respect the fence for quite some time." [ source

🥜Do you have any questions for us regarding feeding deer peanuts or peanut butter? Please use the comment for below to ask.

Last modified 2023-02-24 at 12:12

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