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Gardening is a calling; one that we dedicate a lot of time and resources to so we can harvest a delectable crop. But something is eating at your spuds, and with the presence of wildlife critters in your area, you’re wondering; do deer eat potatoes?
Deer eat potatoes and depending on the type. Whitetails and mule deer in particular will actively wage war on your crop. This varmint doesn’t prefer food it has to dig up, but it’ll eat taters that are available above ground. As part of the nightshade family, potato vine’s leaves are poisonous to ruminants, but they’ll nibble at young shoots or hoof out the tuber when it’s below the ground.
Your potatoes or young shoots of the plant are in danger where deer proliferate. In some spud-rich areas, this varmint has developed quite a taste for potato tubers. Let’s look at what you can do to protect your taters from these four-legged pests.
How Are Deer Able To Digest Potato Tubers?
If the environment around where you live allows you to propagate various garden vegetables successfully, you’re very lucky. The opportunities for a stellar crop of potatoes are ever-present, but your spud patch seems to be attracting deer. Well, the ungulate is a ruminant, meaning they can go through most plants and digest them using fermentation.
So, do deer eat potatoes, or are they coming around for something else? They do, and they’re possibly lingering around because there’s little to consume elsewhere. They have been known to dig out spuds from the soil; even stuffing themselves to the point of acidosis and death.
Unlike your monogastric stomach arrangement, meaning it has one chamber, deer have four sections. Tough to digest fibrous plants and woody leaves are initially chewed and stored in the first compartment. A rumination process occurs when they’re at rest. The stowed chow is regurgitated, chewed, and swallowed to the next digestion stage.
In the first stomach chamber, aptly called the rumen, digestion begins, initiated by secreted natural digestive bacteria. Ruminate or regurgitate cud is fermented to break fibrous and woody material into amino acids before being re-chewed for efficient nutrition extraction. To better understand deer affinity for potatoes, let’s look at how ruminant herbivores are classified.
Are Potatoes a Preference for Deer or Food They Turn To In Dire Situations?
Deer eat potatoes, and they’ll also nibble on your spud plants when they’re young, essentially dashing any hopes of a crop. Their food choice suits what’s available, and they can switch from browsing to scavenging tubers leftover from farm harvests.
Classification of ruminant feeding patterns dictates how deer feed depending on the species and the time of year. These herbivores are categorized as concentrate selectors