Oranges and tangerines are delicious for us humans, but what do deer species think about them?
First of all, deer do eat citrus fruits. Lemons, mandarines, oranges - all part of deer diet sometimes.
Well, they're hardly top favorites, to be honest, but deer definitely know they're edible and keep them 'lined up' for later. When all the berries, pears, plums, peaches, carrots and apples run out - it's time for things like pumpkin or citrus fruits and trees! We never see any feijoas sitting on the ground where deer are, but we do witness oranges scattered around with deer stepping over them. But for hungry feral deer with limited food sources in winter times, citrus fruits should definitely be appreciated.
Yes and no. Yes - if they come across and consume a large amount of these fruits, without being accustomed to them. Deers' digestive system is sensitive and needs time to adjust to new types of foods. Oranges, however, can be an excellent treat and supplement when consumed in moderation.
Citrus trees overall, being aromatic plants, are not deers' favorite delicacy, but they will eat them once they've ran out of better options. So if you have citrus trees in your backyard, don't be surprised if deer will come and help themselves to the ripe fruit or young shoots now and again. As with any other trees, deer can damage them even without eating, by rubbing their antlers on the bark of the trunk. Please check out our advice on how deer damage trees and how to protect them. We grow orange, mandarine and lemon trees where deer have access, and while we don't worry about the lower branches, we do wrap a steel mesh around their trunks.
Yes, deer can eat the entirety of citrus fruits, including rinds, bones. In fact, the peels contain a lot of healthy nutrients and fiber.
In brief, yes deer can eat oranges (or tangerines), but should only be fed small amounts at a time, especially at the start. It takes about 3-4 weeks for these animals to attune their digestive tract to consuming new types of foods in large amounts. However, citruses in general are not deers' dream treat when compared to some other fruits and berries.
Wondering what other food deer might like to eat?
Read our overview post 'What do deer eat'.
Do you still have questions regarding 🍊 feeding deer citrus fruits? Feel free to ask in the comments below ad we'll do our best to answer.