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Zucchini plants are legendary for their enormous crop potential, often leading to abundant, delicious vegetables to enjoy all summer. But what if deer are regular visitors to your garden – do deer eat zucchini, or will they steer clear of this popular vegetable?
In This Guide:
Do Deer Eat Zucchini?
Deer can and will eat zucchini, but these vegetables would not be their first choice of food source. The natural diet of deer consists of a vast variety of vegetation, including grasses, trees, crops, acorns, and nuts.
A single adult deer must eat around 12 pounds of forage daily, so if food sources in the wild are scarce, they may come foraging in your garden!
When food is abundant, deer will likely walk past your patch of ripening zucchini and squash. However, when hungry, they have been known to munch on ripe zucchini, laying waste to your carefully tended crop overnight.
Are Zucchini Good For Deer?
Zucchini may have some health benefits for deer when eaten in limited quantities. They are high in vitamin C, which helps to maintain a healthy immune system, and the high potassium and magnesium content may help to build strong bones.
However, these benefits are lost when deer eat large quantities of zucchini – this vegetable is very low in energy and protein and will not meet the high calorific requirements of deer. This is a particular problem during breeding season or periods of colder weather.
So, while a visiting deer will not come to any harm if they eat the occasional zucchini from your garden, this vegetable should not be relied upon as a regular food source for deer.
Do Deer Eat Zucchini Plants?
Deer seem to particularly enjoy eating the tender growing stems of zucchini plants, nipping them neatly off as they pass through your garden. This can be frustrating as it leads to reduced or delayed crop production or may even stop your plants from fruiting altogether.
If you can get your zucchini plants past the tender baby stage, deer will generally leave them alone. They are not keen on mature zucchini plants’ tough stems and fuzzy leaves and will shun them in favor of tastier plants.
While deer may not be keen to eat zucchini plants, they can do some severe damage in other ways!
Deer don’t let much stand in their way as they search for food, so they may also accidentally trample on zucchini plants and snap the stems. If this occurs, your zucchini plants may well send out new shoots from lower down the main stem, so it is worth leaving them in the ground to see if they recover.
Do Deer Eat Zucchini Flowers?
The trumpet-like vibrant yellow flowers of zucchini plants are a culinary delicacy. If you’ve never tried a fried zucchini flower stuffed with soft cheese and chili, I highly recommend you try it!
Unfortunately, deer enjoy zucchini flowers just as much as I do, so they will eat them if they come across them while out foraging.
Luckily, as your zucchini plants grow large and robust, you will find that the huge leaves do a great job of hiding the flowers safely out of sight of any marauding deer. They will be reluctant to push their noses through the fuzzy leaves to reach this tasty snack, leaving your zucchini flowers safely in place to produce an abundant crop.
What Is Eating My Zucchini Plants?
Sadly, it isn’t only deer that will eat or damage zucchini plants – this nutritious vegetable is a favorite food source for many garden visitors! So before you point blame at hungry deer, it helps to do a bit of detective work first.
Deer are not the tidiest eaters, so if they’ve been through your garden, you will see torn and ripped-off leaves and broken or damaged stems on your zucchini plant.
And it is not just zucchini they’re after – in a vegetable plot, check for damage to favorite deer fodder such as cabbage, broccoli, fruits, and berries. You may also spot deer droppings and hoof prints around your zucchini plants.
What Wild Animal Eats Zucchini?
What else could be eating your zucchini plants if you’ve ruled out deer damage? Many wild animals will nibble on zucchini and plenty of smaller insects and bugs.
Raccoons will eat zucchini, and the tell-tale sign of raccoon raiders is that the fruits will be missing from your plants. Yes, these little thieves like to grab and go rather than eat their ill-gotten gains on-site!
Rabbits also eat zucchini, but they prefer the soft growing tips of the plant to the vegetable itself. They will shun mature leaves but can do considerable damage to the crop by stunting the overall growth of the plant. Rabbit damage can be easily identified as it will be lower down on the plant, with tell-tale tiny bite marks on the softer parts of the plant.
Other potential culprits responsible for damage to your zucchini plants include chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs. These will all eat any part of the plant, including the fruits, stems, and flowers, leaving a trail of debris behind them.
Do Deer Eat Squash Vines?
Like zucchini plants, deer also find mature squash vines tough and unpalatable. The fuzzy surface of the leaves also serves to deter deer as it irritates their delicate noses, and they will seek out smooth-leaved plants instead.
However, it is a different story regarding the tender growing tips of squash vines! Deers love to nibble at anything juicy and tender, so they will happily nibble on these as they pass through your yard.
Verdict: Are Zucchini Plants Deer-Resistant?
Mature zucchini plants are somewhat deer resistant, but they will eat the ripening fruits if they are hungry enough.
However, deer will likely leave your zucchini alone if more palatable or tasty food is available. The most vulnerable part of a zucchini plant is the tender young growing tips, which deer find particularly delicious.