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Do deer eat cucumbers? 🥒

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Having our deer roam around our property and sneak into our garden to snatch our carefully grown fruits and veges, it's amusing to read on various websites that deer dislike this or tend to avoid this or that or are even repeled by the smell of that other thing. More often than not that does not correcpond to reality we see on the ground.

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

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

So getting back to the matter, of course, deer eat cucumbers. They quite enjoy the fruits itself, and they have destroyed our cucumber plants before when we weren't looking, 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 placed on a raised terrace, in a pot, where rabbits couldn't have reached. Deer footprint was left on the 'crime scene' and then we actually saw deer hopping onto that another day. So case closed on circumstantial evidence, culprits - 🦌. RIP cucumber.

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 liike to snack on cucumbers also includes:

squirrel eating cucucmber slices

image credit: LarsMueller from Pixabay

Why wouldn't deer like cucumbers?

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 spikes in your fingers from 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 cucumbers deer resistant?

Hardly. The plants may survive deer browsing, but deer are very likely to eat some cucumber plant foliage, flowers and fruits. Only reason they will forgo a cucumber plant in your garden is if they find somethig even more attractive to eat. 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 - they're done. 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. Trust me, you'll soon be disappointed with the results. The only foolproof way to stop them is to have a deer fence around the site. 

Please read more in our post on How to protect trees from deer. It explains the problem in length.

Deer and cucumbers: summary

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 :) 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.

🥒 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.


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