What Animals are Eating my Eggplant Plants? (ANSWERED + How to Stop Them)
Something eating your eggplant plant before you can get to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Nothing is more frustrating than watching baby eggplants slowly develop into mature fruits (yes they are fruits! ), only to have someone or something snatch it away right at the last moment. So, the big question is what animals eat eggplant plants?
The types of animals that can devastate your eggplant crops are the usual suspects like rabbits, squirrels, deer, rats and raccoons. We’ll investigate all these suspects in depth below, including methods for preventing them from striking again.
Do not worry – the detectives at the Garden Bench Top are on the case. We will not rest until we have solved the mystery of Who is Eating Your Eggplant!
So if you are ready, get ready to embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, because there is a case afoot.
What Animals Eat Eggplant Plants
Unfortunately, you are not the only one that has been coveting your prized eggplants. There have been a few greedy eyes watching and waiting to pounce, just at the right time.
There are a number of suspects on our hit list of the types of animals that eat eggplants (and their leaves), but each one leaves clues and calling cards that will give away their presence at the scene of the crime.
Let’s begin our investigation and begin to slim down our suspects list.
Do Deer Eat Eggplant Plants?
As majestic and stunning as these creatures are, deer can certainly prove to be a nuisance for the home gardener.
Within a single night, one deer can devastate a garden. Nibbling and snacking on your lovingly cultured garden as they move from plant to plant, leaving a trail of destruction.
Strangely, however, there are some plants and vegetables deer will turn their nose up at. And eggplants happen to fall into this category.
The taste of eggplants doesn’t satisfy the deer’s taste buds, and they will readily move onto tastier pastures. Deer also don’t like thorny or hairy plants or vegetables, like cucumbers for example. The feel of the prickles in their mouths turns them off.
All that being said, if a deer is hungry enough, they will eat just about anything and overcome their aversions to prickly and bland tasting treats.
So are deer still a suspect in the case of who is eating your eggplant plants?
It will be pretty obvious if deer are the culprits for your missing eggplants. Not only will your eggplant plants’ leaves and fruits be gone, but other plants and flowers will also be stripped. Especially given a deer’s preference towards other tastier treats, over the bland taste of eggplants.
You will also be able to see hoof prints at the scene of the crime scene, as well as deer droppings.
How to Stop Deer From Eating Your Eggplants
If you suspect deer are performing nightly raids on your garden, there are a few things you can do to deter deer from frequenting your delicious garden.
There are commercial products available on Amazon that will help to form a perimeter around your garden, which come in the form of deer repellent sprays or granules you spread around.
However, for those that want a more organic solution, you can try spreading around human hair clippings around your garden. The scent of humans scares the deer, and they will hopefully move on to feed in safer pastures.
In the same vein, hanging bars of soap around your garden will also deter deer from entering. Again the deer associate the smell of soap with humans, giving them the impression that danger is around and that they should avoid the area.
That being said, the battle to keep deer out of home gardens is real. Unless you want to erect an eight-foot fence around your garden, if a deer wants to get into your garden they will generally find a way.
Are Squirrels Eating My Eggplant?
Squirrels are the bane of some home gardeners because they are so difficult to keep out of their gardens. They are extremely clever little animals that have all the skills and talents that allow them to maneuver under, around and over any obstacles.
If you have noticed squirrels bouncing around your house and yard, it is likely that they have discovered your eggplant crops. They will eat any fruit or vegetable they can get their little paws on, including both mature and young eggplants. Vegetables and fruits form a big part of squirrels’ water source, so they will eat whatever ticks their boxes in both water content and nutritional value. Unfortunately eggplants are up there on their list of favorite vegetables.
The typical calling cards squirrels leave behind include little sections of your eggplants that have been gnawed out. Squirrels also tend to feed on the tops of eggplants (the green caps), for nutritional purposes.
So, almost like they are taunting us, the squirrels will leave spoiled eggplants around your plants to show you that they had their snack, and have conveniently eaten enough to deny us of having ours.
How to Stop Squirrels From Eating Your Eggplants
Ironically one of the best ways to keep squirrels from eating your eggplants 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 crops and keep them happy and full.
If you decide to follow this path, we’d recommend stationing the food and water source far away from your veggie and fruit crops. This way they won’t be enticed to go explore other options to satiate their seamlingly bottomless stomachs.
This concept isn’t too far fetched, as some gardeners actually grow sacrificial crops to feed pests, and preserve their own crops for themselves.
Check out how The Country Ninja keeps squirrels away from his plants and vegetables (FYI – to save you time, we forwarded the video past all the introduction and non-relevant information at the beginning)
Do Wild Rabbits Eat Eggplant Plants?
One common garden pest that you can potentially rule out from eating your eggplant plants is rabbits.
Since eggplant plants are considered part of the nightshade family, the leaves and stems are actually toxic to rabbits. The eggplant fruits themselves are edible for rabbits and will not poison them like the leaves, however they can only consume a small portion of eggplant.
This means, if you have partially eaten eggplants AND you notice some of your leaves have been chewed or stripped off the stems, then you can probably strike rabbits from the suspects list.
How to Keep Rabbits Away from Your Vegetables
Even though rabbits are unlikely to be the culprits for your eaten eggplants, it may be helpful to understand ways to manage them and keep them out of your vegetable patch.
A sure fire way of keeping your vegetables safe from the mouths of hungry rabbits is to fence them off.
Because rabbits are ground dwelling creatures, you don’t need to install a tall fence (as is the case for deer). Rabbits can, however, dig under your fences, so you will need to ensure your fence line goes at least one foot down into the ground.
We also recommend sprinkling some natural deterrents around your vegetable plants to keep rabbits at bay. It is simple, budget-friendly and can often be found in your spice rack in your pantry. Spices like ground up chili and red pepper are great options. Alternatively, talcum powder also works to prevent rabbits from doing too much damage.
Do Raccoons Eat Eggplant Plants?
Raccoons also fall into the category of persistent garden pests that are difficult to outsmart. Like squirrels, they are agile creatures that can climb any object, but also have the added advantage of dexterity and brains (not saying squirrels aren’t smart!).
Raccoons have a very similar appetite and pallet to humans. They will eat anything that we tend to eat, which is why they love to dumpster dive and finish off any leftovers we may have discarded.
Therefore, it stands to reason that raccoons can most definitely be eating your eggplants.
They have been known to munch on plant leaves, however their preference is definitely ready-made meals, like ripened fruits and vegetables, or your leftovers.
So, even though they have been known to eat leaves, it is likely that if a raccoon is raiding your eggplant crops, only the eggplant fruits themselves will be missing. Raccoons will generally carry them off and eat them elsewhere, away from the crime scene.
You’ll also know if raccoons have been in your garden because they will leave their paw prints behind, as well as droppings while they forage.
How to Stop Raccoons From Eating Your Eggplants
Given their dexterity and smarts, fences won’t keep raccoons away from your eggplants for long. Even if you have an enclosed cage around your plants, they will find the weakness and scramble their way in.
The best method of keeping pesky raccoons away is by smelling them out. Sprinkle blood meal around your eggplant plants, or even around the perimeter of your garden. Raccoons hate the smell and will choose a less smelly garden to forage in.
You can even try a concoction of minced garlic and chili powder mixed into water and spray it around the leaves of your vulnerable plants.
Finally, try growing plants that are prickly along the fence lines that your raccoons tend to favor. They detest the feeling on their paws.
Do Rats & Mice Eat Eggplant Plants?
Rats will eat anything they can get their grubby little paws on – including eggplants.
They leave a distinct chewing pattern that is easily identifiable – that is if they leave the evidence behind.
Not only will rats eat your eggplants (or aubergines), they will also chew down the new leaves and stem growth on your eggplant plant. You can tell this apart from other animals, because EVERYTHING is gone, as opposed to deer that generally strip the leaves from the stems.
Rats do most of their garden raids under the cover of darkness. If you notice your eggplant plant is getting chewed on at night, then rats are right up there as a prime suspect.
Mice also fall into this category – however they will generally stick to the mature and ripened eggplants, rather than the leaves and stems.
How to Stop Rats and Mice From Eating Your Eggplants
Keeping out rats and mice is a challenge. Particularly, because they are small, can climb vertically, have sharp teeth and even have the ability to dig down through dirt. 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.
Who Dunnit – Mystery of The Eaten Eggplants Case Closed?
So who is the prime suspect in the case of “What animals eat Eggplant Plants?”
Obviously, each case is unique and dependent on the suspects that are present in your garden.
We can rule out Mr Rabbit, who can only digest small amounts of eggplants and finds the leaves toxic. And Mrs Deer generally find eggplants bland and unappealing.
If you are missing leaves and stems on your eggplant plants, with chew or nibble marks on the eggplants themselves, we would wager a guess that Mr Rat is stealing a midnight snack or Mrs Squirrel is quenching her thirst.
But if your eggplant plants have been devastated, leaves, stems, fruit and all, then raccoons may be prime suspect number one!