Citrus trees overall, being aromatic plants, are not deer favorite food but they will eat them once they've ran out of better options. So if you have citrus trees in your backyard, it's not uncommon for deer to help themselves to the ripe fruit now and again.
Bucks can rub antlers on the trunk of any tree, stripping it of bark, so any tree can suffer damage, even one deer won’t eat.
Whether deer like to eat lemon tree foliage and fruits - depends how hungry they get. Citrus trees are not deers' first pick, but they do eat them when their choices become limited. So technically it is deer-resistant because it doesn’t attract these animals like a plum or a peach tree would. But it would be wrong to say lemon repels deer, because they do gobble up whole lemons sometimes.
We’ve noticed deer will prefer fruits (with peels) to tree leaves. So lower branches don’t suffer from heavy deer browsing, whereas avocado trees get completely defoliated at the lower level and are looking horrible after a couple of deer visits.
If you're growing lemon trees you could be worried about deer damage, in which case do check out our general advice on how deer damage trees and how to protect them. One of the easier things to do is to prune lower branches of the tree so that the deer cannot reach the lemon fruits. Young saplings are of course most vulnerable and should be fenced off.
Yes, lemon fruits are healthy for deer in moderation. Similar to apples and many other fruits or veges, deer will rip benefits from including various things in their diet as long as they don’t suddenly drastically change their usual ‘menu’.
Citrus fruits offer many health benefits.
Lemons in particular can be a good source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for many animals, including humans, as it plays an important role in various biological processes, such as the formation of collagen, wound healing, and immune system function. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress, which can be caused by environmental toxins and pollutants.
Deer, like humans, are unable to synthesize vitamin C and must obtain it from their diet. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables that are part of their natural diet, such as apples, berries, and green plants.
In addition, lemons are a decent source of potassium and vitamin B6.
Nutritional composition of a lemon per 100 grams:
|Amount per 100g
|Folate (Vitamin B9)
Although citrus fruits can provide numerous advantages to deer, in big quantities they can cause gastrointestinal problems and tooth decay. So while it is a good occasional snack for deer, it shouldn’t be viewed as something they can live off of.
If you decide to treat feral deer to some fruits that you’d bought from a supermarket, better wash them to remove any possible preservative or pesticide residue.
It is best to cut lemons into wedges or slices that are easy to bite and if there are many animals - to distribute the feed on the ground widely, so they don’t fight over one big pile of food.
However, you might want to weigh all the pros and cons of feeding deer in general.
It seems odd to us humans, but from our observations, our deer, more often than not, might actually prefer lemons to other citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines). Especially if cut into small pieces. They may walk past a lemon tree with fruits hanging fully within their reach, or ignore an old moldy fruit on the ground underneath, but you offer them a wedge of freshly cut lemon and they're into it. So as sour as they are, lemons still are on deers menu.
When it comes to whether deer eat lemons, it's worth mentioning that citrus trees, including lemon trees, are not the preferred food of deer, but they may still consume the foliage and fruit when other food sources are scarce. Lemon trees can be considered deer-resistant, but they may still suffer damage from deer rubbing their antlers on the trunk. To protect lemon trees from deer damage, it is recommended to prune lower branches or fence off young saplings. While lemons are a healthy occasional snack for deer, feeding them large quantities can cause gastrointestinal problems and tooth decay. When feeding lemons to deer in your backyard, it is recommended to wash them to remove any preservative or pesticide residue, and to cut them into small wedges or slices that are easy for the deer to eat.
🍋 Do you have any questions for us about feeding deer lemons? Ask us in the comment section below!
Last modified 2022-12-03 at 10:50
Published 14 October 2022