What Animals Eat Cucumber Plants (How to Stop Them!)
Nothing is more crushing than realizing something has been eating your cucumber plants while you have been sleeping. Correction, not eating…devastating your crops!
All your hard work and effort, gone in a single night. Who could do such damage so quickly? Or the better question should be What animals eat cucumber plants?
Don’t fret – the detectives at the Garden Bench Top are here to lend a helping hand. In this article, we will review the usual suspects and solve the mystery of Who Ate Your Cucumber Plants!
We’ll also look at ways to prevent these burglars in the night from striking again.
So, if you are ready, grab your magnifying glass, because we have a case to solve!
What is eating my cucumber plants at Night?
Cucumbers are delicious and have to be one of the most refreshing fruits (that’s right, they are fruits). Nothing beats a refreshing cucumber water on a summer evening. That is, unless something has eaten them before you could even get the opportunity to enjoy them.
There are many animals that will happily deny you the pleasure of a cucumber. And here are our top suspects and natural enemies of cucumber plants.
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For those readers that are more visually inclined, check out this video we put together looking at WHAT ANIMALS EATS CUCUMBER PLANTS
Do Deer Eat Cucumber Plants?
Deer are particularly voracious when it comes to a household vegetable garden.
They love to nibble on young leaves and stems, which makes them a menace to gardeners. Any plant that is in the early stages of its growth is fair game for a deer.
Interestingly, deer do have a sensitivity to plants that have furry or prickly leaves and fruit. And cucumbers fall into this category. They have developed prickly skin for this very reason – protection against predators.
So, if a deer is given the choice between a prickly cucumber plant and a non-prickly plant, such as beans or spinach, it will choose the smoother option any day of the week.
That being said, if the deer is hungry enough, it will endure a bit of discomfort for some food. So we can’t completely rule them out as a suspect.
Preventing Deer from Eating Your Garden
Stopping deer from enjoying your cucumber garden is a problem many home gardeners have been battling, including our very own gardens. You could install a deer proof fence around your entire garden, but this isn’t always practical and can be unsightly.
Some home gardeners say placing bar soap or human hair near the plants helps to deter them. Others have installed motion sensors near the plants to shine bright lights when triggered.
Another option is applying a deer-repellant spray to the outdoor plants. We’re not sure if this affects the taste and quality of the fruits, so do employ this technique at your own risk.
Do Rabbits Eat Cucumber Plants?
The next animal on our suspect list is the cute little bunny rabbit. But don’t let their appearance fool you. Rabbits may be adorable, but their appetite can cause a lot of rabbit damage to your cucumber (and other vegetable) crops.
Rabbits are definitely high up on the list of likely suspects for your missing cucumber plants.
With a diet that consists of 75% leafy greens, they will decimate your cucumber plants by eating the nutrient rich leaves, shoots and flowers. In fact, their preference for leaves is so strong, they may leave you some cucumbers just to say thanks for the meal.
Preventing Rabbits from Eating Your Cucumber Plants
The best way of keeping rabbits away from your cucumber plants is to fence them off. Because rabbits have a height disadvantage, the fencing doesn’t have to be too intrusive. Check out this short video by The Practical Surburban Farmer where he shows you how to construct a DIY rabbit – proof fence for his young cucumber plants.
Alternate methods of deterring rabbits from eating your leafy greens are by sprinkling powders around your plants, such as chili, talcum powder, and red pepper powder. The goal is for the rabbits to sniff the unappealing substances and move on from your garden to greener pastures.
Do Squirrels Eat Cucumbers Plants?
Squirrels are sneaky animals that are extremely persistent at getting to their food sources. Due to their agility and ability to climb, they can access areas of the garden that other animals cannot.
If you have squirrels in the area, they are very likely to be the main culprit for your missing cucumbers.
Squirrels love to steal young fruits and vegetables from home gardens. Unfortunately, the prickly exteriors of cucumbers do not deter these sneaky thieves, like they do deer. In fact, cucumbers are a particular favorite of squirrels, as they are a terrific water source for quenching a night of garden raiding. Often, they will bite into the cucumber fruits, and leave them on the ground, after they have had they thirst satiated.
Stopping Squirrels from Raiding your Cucumbers
Isolating your cucumber plants away from squirrels is difficult due to their dexterity and agility. They have the ability to jump from tree to tree, as well as scale structures. So how do you keep them away from your plants?
Similar to the methods we described for rabbits, try sprinkling ground – up substances around your plants. Such as chili, cayenne pepper and ground up garlic as a deterrent.
Squirrels have similar sensitivities to deer, so using a deer repellent on your plants can help to keep the two pests at bay.
Do Raccoons eat Cucumber plants?
If there was any animal that we can confidently strike off the suspected list of the missing cucumbers, it would probably be the raccoon.
In fact, raccoons will do everything they can to avoid cucumbers. This is due to the cucumbers prickly fruit, leaves and vines. They dislike the feeling of the spikes so much, that people use cucumber vines as a way of deterring raccoons from using their fence as a thoroughfare.
According to Reigional Widlife Services in Canada, they claim the smell of cucumbers will deter raccoons so much, that they will avoid an area with a cucumber plant. We now know what to plant when we have an unwanted masked raccoon intruder!
How to Stop Raccoons eating Cucumbers
There’s no need. Raccoons detest the taste and smell of cucumbers as much as your kids hate the taste of Brussels sprouts.
Do Rats and Mice Eat Cucumber Plants?
Rats and mice are also likely suspects in the case of the missing cucumbers.
Like rabbits, they like to snack on anything young, fresh and juicy. Particularly tender new shoots of any plant, including cucumber plants. Unlike rabbits, they will happily eat your cucumber crops along with the leaves and new stems.
You’ll be able to tell a rat or mouse is enjoying your garden delights because they will eat anything tender and juicy, not just your cucumber plants. Rodents are a real problem, and can be devastating to a home garden.
How to Stop Rats and Mice From Eating Your Plants
Rats and mice are much harder to control when it comes to keeping them away from your plants. Unlike rabbits, they are built to scavenge. They are adaptable creatures that can climb up walls, jump over gaps, and can even chew through things to get to their food. We’ve even had firsthand experience with rats chewing through the lids of our worm farms to get to the scraps inside. They are complete and utter nuisance animals.
Many home gardeners have had success repelling rats and mice using natural solutions such as planting mint and herbs, like basil garlic and thyme.
Keeping a tidy garden also helps to deter rats and mice. They require hiding places to move about and breed. By maintaining a tidy garden, without much clutter and debris on the ground, it will make it harder for them to move about. Picking up any fallen food and seeds also helps to reduce the food sources for the rats, and they will soon move on to more lucrative places to feed.
Conclusion: Case Closed?
So who is the likely suspect for the mystery of “Who Ate Your Cucumber Plants?”
Obviously, each case is unique and dependent on the suspects that are present in your garden.
We can rule out Mr Raccoon, who detests cucumbers. And Mrs Deer usually prefers smoother, less prickly, delights.
If you are missing leaves and stems on your cucumber plants, with cucumber fruits remaining, we would wager a guess that the cute little bunny rabbit is stealing a midnight snack or squirrels are quenching their thirst.
But if your cucumber plants have been devastated, leaves, stems, fruit and all, then rats and mice may be prime suspect number one!