What Animals Eat Aloe Vera Plants? (How to Stop Them)
There is little more gut-wrenching than discovering something has been snacking on your aloe while you weren’t looking. All that care and devotion, gone in a single night! It’s enough to make you wonder what animals eat aloe vera plants?
The list of garden pests that will indulge in your thriving aloe vera plants is longer than you would think. It includes suspects like: rabbits, possums, rats, deer, squirrels, tortoises, raccoons, gophers and more. And we haven’t even touched on the pests from the insect world yet! So how do you know which pest is attacking your aloe vera? Evidence is your friend, and we’ll help you identify the likely suspect in more detail below.
Welcome to the Garden Bench Top, where today we are going to embrace our inner Sherlock Holmes to analyze the evidence left at the crime scene. We’ll not only identify the prime suspect, we’ll also step you through solutions for preventing them from raiding your aloe in the future.
So if you’re ready, grab your magnifying glass, because we have a new case to solve… the mystery of Which Animal Ate your Aloe Vera Plant!
Do Rabbits Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
If there is one critter we can strike off the suspects list, it is the innocent looking bunny rabbit.
Even if you see these common garden pests hopping around your garden, they will not touch your aloe vera plants.
The reason we are so confident rabbits aren’t eating your aloe is because the skin of the aloe leaves is toxic for rabbits, as it contains a toxin called Saponins. If rabbits consume too much aloe vera, they will experience digestive problems (such as diarrhea), sickness and in extreme circumstances, consuming aloe can cause death.
How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Aloe Vera Plants
Even though aloe vera is toxic for rabbits, it isn’t uncommon for a rabbits’ curiosity to kick in and take a nibble here and there from your aloe.
If you believe rabbits are sampling your aloe vera plant, it will be obvious, because only a small amount will have been nibbled away before the rabbits realize that eating aloe isn’t the smartest idea. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep them away.
Since rabbits are ground dwelling animals, the obvious and most effective form of prevention is fencing around your garden. Erecting a fence around your entire perimeter, that is at least 4-6 feet high, will be effective for keeping rabbits out of your garden.
The one consideration is a rabbit’s ability to burrow. It isn’t uncommon for rabbits to dig under fences to access the sweet leafy greens on the other side.
In this scenario, we’d recommend making sure your fence line also stretches down at least a foot into the ground. We understand that installing an under and over ground fence around your entire garden can be costly. An alternate option is to install an extended fence only around your vegetable patch and housing your aloe vera plants with your vegetables.
Check out this video for installing an easy rabbit proof fence by the Millennial Gardener:
Do Deer Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
Strangely, we can strike off another common garden pest, the deer.
Deer are usually prime suspect number one when it comes to animals eating a home garden. They are voracious and a herd of deer can inflict a great deal of damage to a home garden in a single night.
However, succulents, including aloe vera plants, are not their favorite foods to munch on, and they will happily pass over a juicy aloe for some vegetables from a patch or tasty green leaves.
Deer are generally not partial to any prickly foods, like other succulents and even cucumber fruits. Fortunately for the aloe vera plant, the spikes on the side of the leaves are enough to keep them off a deer’s menu.
With all that being said, if hungry enough and presented with a lack of options, a deer will still put up with a bit of a prickled tongue if it means it will get a meal for the evening.
If deer have eaten your aloe vera plants, you will be able to tell, because they are messy eaters, and they usually tear leaves and plants. This means, if they ate your aloe, it is likely the plant would have been uprooted from the ground and sprawled across the ground, half-eaten.
How to Prevent Deer from Eating Your Aloe Plant
So how do you keep hungry deer away from your aloe vera?
Deer are formidable pests to keep away. If they want into your garden, they will generally find a way. Fences will work to keep them out, however due to their uncanny ability to jump high, a fence would have to be at least 8 feet tall.
We understand that erecting a fortress like fence around your beautifully cultivated garden isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing option for home gardeners. Don’t worry, there are a few more options.
Try using a deer repellent around the perimeter of your garden to keep deer out. There are commercial options available online (like Amazon), or at your local nursery supply store. However, we do recommend doing some research before spraying any repellent on vegetables or parts of your garden that you intend on consuming.
Another option is to hang bars of soap on rope around the garden. Deer’s have sensitive smell, and they will smell the soap a mile away. Most wild deer tend to associate the scent of soap with humans, which will make them extra cautious when they catch a whiff of the scent around your garden. Generally, they will opt for the safer option, and move on to a safer area to graze.
Sprinkling human hair clippings around the garden has the same effect as the bar on the soap concept. Again, the smell of humans around your garden will scare deer away, and keep your garden safe. The only downside is maintenance. Because you will have to repeat the process when the hair gets blown away in the wind, or washed away with the rain.
Do Squirrels Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
One of the cleverer little garden pests to frustrate home gardeners is the humble little squirrel. These little animals are extremely hard to keep out of the garden due to their small and nimble nature.
Squirrels have great climbing abilities, being able to scale most vertical surfaces. And their propensity to jump over large distances (especially from tree to tree), means even the tallest fence will not keep them out of your garden.
But are squirrels the culprits in the mystery of your eaten aloe vera plant?
Yes – possibly. We cannot strike them off the suspects list, because they may be sampling your aloe plants.
Even though aloe vera plants aren’t the preferred food of squirrels, due to the gelatinous and sticky nature of the leaves, they may still munch on an aloe leaf or two. Squirrels usually eat fruits and vegetables for hydration purposes. Meaning they will take a few bites to satiate their thirst, and then discard the rest. And this is exactly how they treat aloe vera.
It is this trademark modus operandi (MO), which gives away whether a squirrel is the cause of your eaten aloe vera plant. Squirrels will drop half-eaten aloe leaves scattered around the ground. In fact, if your local squirrel is particularly spiteful, they may even uproot your aloe plant, almost as if to send a message like “yep – I own this garden and there’s nothing to do”
How to Prevent Squirrels from Eating Your Aloe Plant
One of the best ways (and most humane ways) to keep squirrels from eating your aloe plants is to feed them. It sounds counter-intuitive, however squirrels are simply looking to survive.
If you provide a steady food and water source, you can deter them from eating your aloe plants and keep them satiated and, more importantly, away from your precious plants.
This method is called planting a sacrificial garden, and involves planting a variety of fruit trees and native plants for your local fauna to enjoy.
If you decide to follow this path, we’d recommend growing the sacrificial garden far away from your aloe plants. This way they won’t be enticed to go explore other options to satiate their seemingly bottomless stomachs.
Do Tortoises Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
It may sound strange, but tortoises actually fall into the category of animals that eat aloe vera plants. In fact, tortoises will use the water-dense aloe leaves as a source of hydration, as they are prone to becoming dehydrated.
Tortoises aren’t a common animal you’d expect to find in your garden, however if tortoises are known to frequent your local area, then they may be munching on your aloe plant. Or it is possible a neighbor’s pet tortoise has decided to visit your garden? It’s not impossible?!
Nevertheless, aloe vera is a known favorite in a tortoise’s diet, and therefore must be considered in our mystery case.
How to Prevent Tortoises from Eating Your Aloe Plant
This is a relatively easy problem to solve. Tortoises aren’t exactly swift, agile creatures, so preventing them from reaching your aloe should be simple.
If your aloe vera is in a pot, raise it from the ground onto a step or table.
If your aloe is planted in the ground, a practical fence around your garden (even stones that form a garden border) will prevent tortoises from reaching your precious plants.
Do Raccoons Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
Raccoons are sly garden pests that have well and truly earned their spot on the suspects lists. They are omnivorous animals that usually like to scavenge for their food under the cover of darkness. Raccoons aren’t particularly fussy with their food, eating vegetables, plant leaves, and even leftovers from our trash cans.
Like squirrels, they have amazing climbing and jumping abilities, which makes them hard to keep out of home gardens.
As we said earlier, raccoons will eat just about anything. This includes aloe vera plants, however similarly to deer and squirrels, it won’t be their first preference. They would much rather have juicy vegetables fresh off the plant, or even a leftover pizza from last night.
Push come to shove, if they are hungry enough they will eat your aloe plants. Raccoons usually pick their food up and will retreat to safer grounds. So if a raccoon is the culprit for your eaten aloe, it will likely be missing after being uprooted and taken away.
How to Prevent Raccoons from Eating Your Aloe Vera Plant
Keeping raccoons away from your plants is difficult.
There is no sugar coating it – if they want to get in, they will find a way.
Deterring raccoons is your best chance of prevention. Spraying unpleasant odors around your garden will help to keep raccoons away. Try a concoction of minced garlic and chili powder mixed into water and spray it around the leaves of your vulnerable plants.
Growing prickly plants that trail along fence lines used by raccoons will also help to keep them out of your garden. Climbing vines like cucumbers will stop raccoons from using your garden as a thorough-fare, as they don’t like the feeling on their paws as they walk.
Do Possums Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
Possums and raccoons are very similar, in habits, feeding rituals and agility. However, there is one important distinction that is relevant to our mystery case.
Possums will not eat aloe vera plants.
So, we can confidently strike possums off the suspects list.
How to Prevent Possums from Eating Your Aloe Vera Plant
Because possums will not touch your aloe plants, we don’t have to worry about keeping them away.
However, if you do have issues with possums scavenging your garden, the deterrents used on raccoons will also be effective on possums.
Do Gophers and Woodchucks Eat Aloe Vera Plants?
These burrowing creatures can be a menace to gardens. Not only because they will eat anything they can get their grubby little paws on, but they can destroy the soil and fill the ground with dangerous holes.
Because they are proficient burrowers, fencing off plants is next to useless. Unless, like the fences for rabbits, your fence-line extends underground. Unlike rabbits, gophers and woodchucks can dig deeper holes, so we’d recommend extending the fence an extra foot down, just for insurance.
As we mentioned earlier, gophers and woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) will eat just about anything. And even if they sample your aloe vera plants, and find it isn’t to their taste, they will uproot them and eat the roots instead – how thoughtful of them!
How to Prevent Gophers and Woodchucks from Eating Your Aloe Vera Plants
Groundhogs and gophers are smart creatures. They are efficient burrowers, which means standard fences will not keep them out.
They also possess the ability to climb, so keeping things out of their reach will also be difficult, since they’ll just drag them down and eat them at their leisure.
Like the other garden pests, smell is your greatest defense. Try sprinkling Epsom salts at the entrance of their burrows to prevent them from using it as a thoroughfare. Some other home gardeners say castor oil has worked for them too.
In a similar vein to deterring deer and squirrels, try spreading clippings of human hair around your plants to discourage them from approaching your crops. Again, the smell of human hair will trick them into thinking a threat is around, and they should retreat to safer grounds.
Who Dunnit – Mystery of The Eaten Aloe Vera Case Closed?
So who is the prime suspect in your case of “What animals eat aloe vera plants?”
Obviously, each case is unique and dependent on the suspects that are present in your garden.
We can rule out the pests that don’t fancy the taste and gel texture of aloe vera, such as Mr Rabbit, Master Possum and Mrs Deer. However, if the rest of your garden has been ravished, then Mrs Deer may still be in the mix.
If you find your aloe leaves and plants half-eaten on the ground, Master Squirrel is a likely candidate. And if the roots have been eaten away, then the unlikely duo of Gopher and Woodchuck could be to blame.
We can’t forget the unsuspecting Tortoise who favors aloe vera on their taste menu.
Finally, if your entire aloe vera plant has been uprooted and stolen, then Mr Raccoon may be prime suspect number one!