What is Eating my Tomatoes? Early morning, while you are still snoozing away, something is eating your ripe tomatoes.
Knowing just who or what that something is can be a challenge, as there are many different animals that like to snack on juicy, ripe tomatoes.
Luckily, this full guide on all the animal critters that could be chewing your tomatoes has you covered.
I also provide the best ways to protect your tomatoes from each animal species, because you’d rather enjoy those yummy tomatoes in your salad and not find “holy” tomatoes in the garden.
What is Eating My Tomatoes?
Wild birds, chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, skunks, raccoons, and voles will eat ripe tomatoes. Domesticated animals that may also eat ripe tomatoes include chickens, pigs, and rats. A stray cat or two may nibble on ripened tomatoes.
11 Animals That Eat Ripe Tomatoes and How to Stop Them
There are several animals that eat ripe tomatoes, and finding the best way to stop them from getting to your tomatoes is how you ensure you still have tomatoes to harvest.
Here are the main culprits:
1. Wild Birds
Wild birds love to feed anywhere they can sneak a tasty bite. Your lush tomato patch is a magnet for them, and as soon as they smell the scent of ripening fruit, birds will zero in and attack the fruit.
Signs of birds feeding on your tomatoes include pecked holes and other signs of bird strike.
How to Stop Wild Birds from Eating your Tomatoes
Placing wire mesh or bird netting over your tomato plants can help deny access to your tomatoes, keeping these winged critters away.
I can imagine how a chipmunk would stuff their cheeks with ripe tomatoes. The sweet taste of tomatoes acts as a lure, drawing them to your garden.
Chipmunks will eat quite neatly, devouring a whole fruit from the plant, but occasional nibble marks can be seen on other fruit too.
How to Stop Chipmunks from Eating your Tomatoes
Chipmunks can also be stopped with the addition of mesh cages over your tomato bushes.
Spraying a repellent like neem oil, mint essential oil, or cinnamon oil can also help dissuade chipmunks from serving themselves in your salad patch.
Like chipmunks, squirrels are notorious fruit thieves. However, squirrels can access a wider range of plants that you may have tried to protect.
Squirrels can easily leap over mesh fencing and dive onto the top of a tomato plant to gorge on the yummy tomatoes.
How to Stop Squirrels from Eating your Tomatoes
To keep squirrels away, it’s advised to use a combination of wire mesh cages and bird netting over the top.
Adding some shiny CDs that create a light show can also help send these nervous creatures scurrying.
You may feel like you’re stuck on Groundhog Day if you see juicy tomatoes trampled and massive plant damage following a woodchuck’s feeding.
Groundhogs or woodchucks are heavy feeders, and they will demolish a tomato plant before heading to your other vegetables.
How to Stop Groundhogs from Eating your Tomatoes
Groundhogs can tunnel, which makes setting up mesh cages pointless.
Get the help of a professional pest controller to come and trap them and release them in a protected area.
While Roger Rabbit may like his carrot, rabbits will definitely go for tomatoes too.
The serious problem with rabbits is that they can tunnel into your vegetable patch, which negates the purpose of a wire mesh cage. Likewise, they are good at burrowing their way under bird netting.
How to Stop Rabbits from Munching your Tomatoes
To keep rabbits out of your tomato patch, it’s advised that you fence the entire area, digging down to bury the fence at least a foot or more deep.
Using an electric fence around your tomato patch is also effective as the rabbit gets a light jolt and then leaves.
Deer may usually nibble green grass, but they are quite happy to also feast on ripe fruit, like your tomatoes. They are nimble and can leap fences and reach over mesh fences.
How to Stop Deer from Eating your Tomatoes
The best deterrent for deer is a dog, or if you can’t keep one, you can buy their urine online and spray it around the vegetable garden (which will scare off deer and other pests).
Strong-smelling scents like peppermint oils and vinegar also keep deer away from your tomatoes.
Nature tends to balance things, and voles usually attract their own predators to keep their numbers (and the damage they do) in check.
So don’t use poison when dealing with voles, as many birds of prey rely on them as a food source.
You can tell voles are responsible when the stems of the tomatoes bear two single lines that were made by the rodent teeth of the voles.
How to Stop Voles from Eating your Tomatoes
Setting traps can help you keep vole numbers down, and spraying a deterrent such as a peppermint oil or citronella can help scare them off.
Skunks enjoy ripe fruit, and they can force their way into veggie gardens.
How to Stop Skunks from Eating your Tomatoes
Deter skunks by planting a banana tree near your other veggies.
With raccoons, prevention is better than cure. Keep raccoons out of your yard and don’t allow them to nest in your vegetable garden.
Cover animal feed like dog food and clean trash cans regularly.
How to Stop Raccoons from Eating your Tomatoes
Make your yard uninviting by removing all available food sources.
10. Wild Pigs
Pigs are known to love any ripe fruit.
If you live in a rural area (or on the rural-urban fringe), chances are a wild pig may be sneaking onto your property to eat some tomatoes.
How to Stop Wild Pigs from Eating your Tomatoes
Ensure your fence is pig-proof, and remove any fruit that’s starting to rot as pigs are drawn by the scent of over-ripe fruit.
Chickens can fly over fences, and they can also scurry through holes in your property fence, and they eat fruit and green plants.
A chicken will peck at about anything.
How to Stop Chickens from Eating your Tomatoes
Bird netting will help keep chickens from your veggie patch.
Frequently Asked Questions about What is Eating your Tomatoes
What is eating my tomatoes at night?
Insects like cutworms, snails, and slugs all feast at night and will reduce a ripe tomato into a threaded fruit.
What is eating the whole tomato plant?
Woodchucks, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and wild pigs can all eat the whole tomato plant.
Conclusion On What is Eating My Tomatoes
The following animals are eating your tomatoes:
- Wild birds