People are often surprised to hear that the majestic deer are, in fact, common pests. Sadly for us humans, they will gladly munch their way through many species of fruits and vegetables, and they can be difficult to get rid of because they’re highly athletic.
What about carrots, though? Do deer eat carrots, and if so, how to keep deer from eating carrots? In today’s article, these are the questions I’ll be answering.
Let’s get started!
- Do Deer Eat Carrots
- How to Keep Deer from Eating Carrots
- Making Home-Made Deer Repellent
- Verdict: Do Deer Eat Carrots
Do Deer Eat Carrots
Yes, deer do eat carrots. In the wild, they’re browsers, primarily feeding on grasses, roots of various plants, and shrubs. During the winter, they’ll often eat wood bark.
However, if there’s a way for them to get to your vegetable garden and feast on the fruits of your labor – especially a carrot crop, you can count on them doing just that. And since digging isn’t that much of a problem for them, a deer can easily uproot carrots.
In fact, carrots are often used as a treat for deer in petting zoos, among fruit and other vegetables, such as cabbage.
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Is It Safe for Deer to Eat Carrots
It’s perfectly safe for deer to eat carrots. However, are not considered very nutritious. Deer have very high nutrition requirements, which is one of the many steep hills a deer has to climb in its life, so living on carrots isn’t a very viable option.
Deer need high-calorie foods that are rich in nutrients. On top of that, deer need calcium and phosphate to support the healthy growth and strength of their antlers.
Since the diet of a deer is so specific, experts urge amateurs not to set up feeding spots for deer (and if they do, not to fill them with carrots) as such spots often end up hurting deer instead of feeding them.
You might think that setting up a feeding spot away from your home will deter deer from your own garden, but this is a very bad idea as the nutritious needs of deer are far too complex.
Will Carrots Regrow After Deer Eat Them
Once a carrot has been eaten by a deer (or any other animal for that matter), it will not re-grow. You’ll need to plant new seeds if you want more crops.
Carrots are biennial plants with a lifecycle of up to two years. Once seeds have germinated it can take between 70 to 80 days for a carrot to reach maturity and be ready for harvesting.
For the plant to produce seeds, it will need to remain in the ground to flower. This occurs in the second year after planting.
Are There Deer-Resistant Carrots
Unfortunately, no – when it comes to the ‘do deer eat carrots’ question – deer eat all carrots. There are generally very few deer-resistant plants, and carrots could even be described as an attractant for deer. Deer hunters often use carrot-based attractants to mask themselves.
Some of the most common deer-resistant plants are cacti. Although, I guarantee that a deer will attempt to bite into a cactus if they find one. However, they will likely quit after the first bite thanks to the spikes.
Other deer-resistant plants include onions (both because of the smell and the taste), and some varieties of pumpkin. While they can eat rhubarb and cucumber, their leaves are toxic to deer.
How to Keep Deer from Eating Carrots
If you have constant problems with deer in your area, there are probably two things happening. Firstly, there isn’t enough food in the wild. Secondly, your garden isn’t well protected. Since you can’t affect the first point, let’s find out how to keep deer out of your garden.
Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden
Options for making your garden deer-proof can range in price and complexity, here’s a rundown of my top recommendations:
The most basic form of defense is building a fence. With your average pests, such as a rabbit or a skunk, this would be more than enough. Unfortunately, neither rabbits nor skunks can jump more than 6 feet in height!
In extreme cases, when being chased by predators, a deer can jump higher than 7 feet. Because of this, you’ll need to build a very tall fence, at least 7, but preferably 8 feet tall.
When erecting, you’ll need to ensure that the footings are buried at least a foot beneath the ground too.
This investment is definitely costly, but it’s by far the most effective way of keeping deer out of your garden.
Electric fences are extremely effective against deer, but some people deem them too cruel. Keep in mind that this is a viable (and a mostly safe) option since electric fences don’t kill the animal that comes in contact with it. They only deliver a non-lethal shock.
Another method wholeheartedly recommended is keeping a dog in your yard. Of course, this applies to dogs that are capable of spending the night outdoors, which might be bad news for readers with smaller house dogs as pets.
A deer will not even attempt to come into a garden if it can hear or smell a dog inside (and deer have much better senses of smell than humans, so they’re bound to smell it). Even if a deer does get inside, it will leave as soon as your dog sounds the alarm.
Deer do not do confrontation (aside from moose), so they’ll always run instead of fighting.
Methods of Frightening
Another great idea is using a motion-activated sprinkler. Deer don’t like having water sprayed at them. In fact, it will scare them out of your garden.
If you want to opt for a more advanced device, you can also find motion-activated sound machines (all animals are afraid of sudden sounds) and motion-activated light machines.
Farmers with larger plots often use gas exploders – these handy devices are rigged to explode at regular intervals and they frighten the deer because of the loud bang they make.
We’ll cover homemade repellents in the next section, but know that commercial repellents have garnered plenty of success with deer and are readily available from stores and online retailers.
Methods you’ll often see recommended online include trapping, shooting, and catching deer. It’s not recommended to attempt to catch or trap a deer because it’s more dangerous than it sounds. Deer are large animals.
Although a deer will always try to run away, it will attack you if you corner it. Also, transporting a caught deer can be problematic, while the legality of releasing caught deer in the wild also has implications.
The same rule applies to shooting a deer – it’s not legal everywhere at all times. But, if you do insist on this, make sure to contact Animal Control before you do it. It is often dependent on your average, so seek advice if you are unsure of your regional laws.
Making Home-Made Deer Repellent
Although commercial deer repellent works just fine, it’s a more expensive option especially when you can make your own at very little cost.
Keep in mind that all animal repellents have to be applied again and again as they evaporate.
Smells That Repel Deer
The point of a repellent is to produce a bad smell and burn the tongue of the deer. Wolf urine (which, believe it or not, is available at outdoor stores), mint, garlic, and eggs are some of the most popular repellents.
There’s an ongoing debate when it comes to wolf urine, as it’s often claimed that it’s collected in inhumane conditions, but there’s very little information about that at this point.
How to Make Home-Made Deer Repellent
Try this as an effective homemade deer-repellent recipe.
For this, you’ll need:
- 3 eggs
Step 1 – Blend the Eggs
Blend three eggs with water thoroughly.
Step 2 – Strain the Mix
After adding a gallon of water to the mix, strain it. It’s now ready to be applied to your plants.
Step 3 – Apply and Reapply
Two very important things to understand about deer repellents are that they need to be reapplied every two weeks or after every rainfall. This is why they’re not a long-term solution, but a two-week solution at best.
Secondly, a desperate deer will ignore scent-based repellents and it will march down that garden to eat whatever it wants to eat. This is why mechanical methods, such as fences, dogs, and motion-activated devices are much more effective than these repellents.
Also, know that animals do get accustomed to certain scents in the wild. Chances are that this homemade deer repellent, which was created and tested by the University of Minnesota, isn’t the definitive answer to the ‘how to keep deer from eating carrots’ question.
Verdict: Do Deer Eat Carrots
Yes, deer will definitely eat carrots if they can find any, but they’re much more interested in other plants, as carrots offer little nutritional value. Deer have high nutritional needs, and carrots simply offer a poor return on effort, so deer will prioritize feeding on other crops and fruits.
Effective methods of keeping deer out of your garden include letting a guard dog roam your property and using motion-activated sprinklers or light and sound systems to scare the deer away.
While commercial and homemade repellents are useful, they’re not long-term solutions as they evaporate and some deer become used to them.
To prevent deer from invading your garden for good, the best thing you can do is invest in a really tall, sturdy fence, with the installation of an electric fence taking deer-proofing to the next level.