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Do Deer Eat Cucumbers? πŸ₯’

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gardener notes Gardeners Notes
Plant type: annuals
Deer resistant: no
Our plant hardiness zone:
New Zealand: subtropical
U.S. Zone 10b

Having our deer roam around our property and sneak into our garden to snatch our carefully grown fruits and veges, cucumbers included, it's amusing to read on various websites that deer dislike or tend to avoid cucumber plants even to the point of being repeled by the smell of them. That simply does not correspond to reality we see on the ground: deer quite enjoy eating cucumbers!

Deer are not fussy eaters, by and large. So in most cases the answer to a question 'do deer eat ...' cucumbers or tomatoes, or carrots, or pumpkins - is yes, you bet they do! 

deer eating cucumbers

Deer eating cucumber slices of a plate

Just because they've found something more delectable today, doesn't mean they're not going to come back tomorrow and finish off that second favorite and then third favorite plant they've lined up. Deer eat a lot! So there's enough room in their body for both top tier treats and for 'meh' kind of foods. 

Video of a deer eating cucumbers

Watch and hear the mighty crunch of our doe eating cucumbers.

So getting back to the matter, of course, deer eat cucumbers. They quite enjoy the fruits themselves, and they have destroyed our cucumber plant before when we weren't paying attention, so can't tell you whether they were excited to find it or just chewed reluctantly, but it was chopped down nearly to the root base. It was growing in a pot on a raised terrace, where rabbits couldn't have reached. Deer footprint was left on the 'crime scene' and then we actually saw deer hopping onto that deck another day. So case closed on circumstantial evidence, culprits - 🦌. RIP cucumber.

Zuchini, growing in a pot next to it, wasn't damaged.

This other time we actually saw deer reaching for the cucumber leaves.

So if you also happen to be wondering, 'what is eating the leaves off of my cucumber plant' - the answer just might be - deer, as they are folivores, meaning, wired to prefer leaves above all else.

However, don't blame the Bambi too soon, because the list of usual suspects, which like to snack on some cucumbers also includes:

  • Squirrels
  • Shrews
  • Moles
  • Rabbits
  • Rats and Mice

squirrel eating cucucmber slices

image credit: LarsMueller from Pixabay

Why wouldn't deer enjoy cucumber fruits?

People speculate that deer might be afraid of little prickles on the cucumbers, but trust me, they eat prickles and thorny things much worse than those. Things you can get bad spikes in your fingers from just touching - these beasts munch down like it's a piece of cake. So no, prickly texture of cucumber fruits wouldn't bother deer. Besides, these prickles carry probiotic bacteria that help in the development of efficient flora and aid digestion.

a cucumber plant with prickly cucumber fruit

image credit: Alexey Hulsov from Pixabay

Of course, deer have food preferences and cucumbers might not be on top 5, but they are definitely not in the absolute bottom of the list either. In our experience, capsicums and cabbage might be somewhere at the bottom, aside from the obvious chives family things like onions and garlic.

Cucumber fruits are juicy and refreshing, not only do they provide some nutrients but also help with thirst, as they're 96% water. Sometimes deer have to walk a considerable distance to get to a water reservoir, but here they can have a little drink while they're busy eating around somebody's precious garden.

Cucumbers have a mild taste and smell, and deer tend to enjoy that. Having very powerful scents, they're often repeled by aromatic plants. Most cucumbers are not overly aromatic.

Cucumber contains a range of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. So aside from being appealing taste-wise, these fruits are healthy for deer to consume.

Are cucumber plants deer resistant?

Hardly. The plants may survive deer browsing, but deer are very likely to eat some cucumber plant foliage, flowers and fruits. They will eat vines sometimes, but they mostly concentrate on leaves and fruits and the vine damage comes from deer attempting to rip of a fruit or foliage.

Only reason deer will forgo a cucumber plant in your garden is if they find somethig even more delectable to gobble up. My guess is, you won't like that outcome either.

a cucumber plant with flowers

image credit: Kelly Neil on Unsplash

How do I keep deer from eating my cucumbers? 

Well, you have to prevent deer from coming within a meter of them, so they can't stretch their long necks and eat them. Get a restraining order or something? ))) No, seriously, once a deer is in the vicinity of your crops and it sniffs them out - their fate is sealed.

You can try repellents and scare tactics and that might work or appear to work for a while, but if you have a herd of deer nearby and they've got limited other sources of versatile food - they'll be watching your place and coming back. Deer adapt to threats. Some people will string some old CD discs in hopes that while moving around in the breeze, the glare of the mirror CD would put the deer off. Or hang some socks with their hair around (yikes!) - to repel deer by human scent. Or spray a deer repellent on their greenery. 

If you're interested in methods of protecting your cucumber vines from deer please read more in our post on 🦌 How to keep deer out of your garden.🦌 It explains the problem at length.

Do cucumbers stand a chance against hungry deer's crunch?

Few plants and fruits are truly deer resistant, and cucumber is no exception. Deer may eat it if they find it, or may eat something else first, leaving the impression that cucumber is not palatable to them. But rest assurred it is still on deer 'hit list' and the plant may need to be placed in protective custody :)

The answer to "do deer eat cucumbers" is yes, they absolutely do! Cucumbers are healthy for deer to eat, in moderation. They provide great hydration and essential nutrients and vitamins to these animals. If you'd like to treat some deer, you can safely offer them some cucumbers. Cucumbers should ideally be cut into cubes, slices, or batons before feeding them to the animals.

πŸ₯’ Have deer been frequenting your yard and eating crops? Have other animals attacked your cucumber plants? Share in the comments or ask us a question.

Last modified 18 September 2023 at 01:31

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