Troubleshooting What is Eating Your Jade Plants (+ How to Stop Them)

Due to their fleshy leaves, jade plants (crassula ovata) are a popular snack for common garden pests. But what animal is eating your Jade? Find out how to identify them using our guide.

What Animals Eat Jade Plants


  • learn how to identify which animals or pests are eating your Jade
  • use the evidence and knowledge of animal eating habits to narrow down what ate your Jade
  • use organic solutions to prevent your suspected pests from raiding your Jade

QUESTION: What animals eat jade plants?

ANSWER: Many animals and garden pests would enjoy helping themselves to your Jade plant. Including animals like deer, squirrels, rodents, insects, and possums.

This guide will look at these garden pests, what kind of evidence they leave behind at the crime scene, and, most importantly, how to stop them from attacking your lucky plant again.

The Mystery Case of What is Eating My Jade Plant?

It’s time to embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes and grab a magnifying glass. Because we’re about to dive into the clues and evidence that will lead you to your primary suspect in the case of Who is Eating Your Jade Plant?

credit: tenor

Do Squirrels Eat Jade Plants?

If you have seen squirrels bouncing around your yard, it is a strong possibility that they are using your Jade as a food and drink station.

Squirrels receive much of their water and nutrient intake from the plants, fruits, and vegetables they forage during their waking hours. Unfortunately, Jade plants are included in their go-to foods.

The juicy leaves and stems are a big attraction for these hungry little scavengers, and keeping them away is a common problem for home gardeners.

Squirrels are agile little creatures that have proficient acrobatic skills. They can scale vertical structures with ease and jump over large distances. Squirrels often jump from tree to tree, which means fences are useless in defending against these creatures.

Identifying if our furry friend, the squirrel, is the culprit is easy. They tend to leave a lot of evidence behind. Jade leaves will be chewed, and leaves and stems will be scattered on the ground. They may even uproot part of your Jade to access the roots. Suffice it to say; they are not neat eaters.

squirrels eating garden

How to Stop Squirrels from Eating Jade Plants

The best approach to preventing squirrels from raiding your garden (including Jade plants) is smell deterrents.

Spraying unpleasant odors on and around your Jade should keep them away. You can use spices from your kitchen cupboard, like hot cayenne pepper or chili powder. Or you can even try crushing fresh garlic and pepper seeds into water and spraying it on the leaves and fruit of the plant.

Another way to ward off these tenacious critters is to hang Irish Spring Soap bars around your garden. We’ve written a detailed guide on how to set it up HERE.

Do Deer Eat Jade Plants?

Deer may be fun to look at in wildlife reserves. However, when it comes to home gardens, they are a menace.

They are relentless grazers, and a small group of deer can quickly decimate a home garden overnight.

While Jade isn’t on their list of preferred garden delights, deer will still eat them if they are hungry or starved for options.

Even though they look dainty, deer are not neat eaters. They tear and shred leaves from branches, leaving a trail of destruction. It’s almost as if a tornado has swept through the garden.

You will also spot hoof prints in the soft ground and fresh feces around the garden since deer love to defecate while they forage.

deer in garden

How to Stop Deer from Eating Jade Plants

Preventing deer from raiding your Jade (money tree) is not easy.

Home gardeners have been in a constant tussle with deer, doing anything to keep them away from the manicured shrubs, trees, and vegetable gardens.

The reason they are so hard to keep out is their agility. Deer are exceptional at jumping and can clear standard-sized fences in a single bound. To keep deer out of your garden, you would have to wall your garden inside 10-12 feet high barriers, which is understandably not very aesthetically appealing.

The good news is there are some organic ways to form a barrier.

Try spreading human hair clippings or bars of soap around your garden. The scent of soap and human hair scares the deer as they associate it with danger. And they will hopefully move on to feed in safer pastures.

There are commercial products available on Amazon that will help to form a perimeter, which come in the form of deer-repellent sprays or granules you spread around your garden.

Do Rats Eat Jade Plants?

Yes – rats will most definitely eat your Jade plants, leaves, stems, and all.

We have first-hand experience with rats raiding a beautiful succulent bowl we were trying to cultivate. For pictures and the backstory about our Jade plant and rat woes, check out this article about propagating jade leaves (SPOILER: it turns out there were some silver linings to rats eating your Jade plants).

In our case, it was tricky working out that rats were the culprits for our half-eaten succulents. We suspected it was either rats or possums. They attacked at night, under cover of darkness. And to catch them in the act, we had to set up a surveillance system using our home security cameras.

They gnawed down leaves, often knocking them to the ground, and broke off stems as they clambered over our succulents. Suffice it to say; they were not clean eaters.

Rats are opportunistic garden pests and eat anything that is an easy meal. This includes tender new growth on many plants, fruits, and vegetables. They will even dig down to snack on plump bulbs, and we have witnessed this in our garden 😢.

rat carrying seed

How to Stop Rats from Eating Jade Plants

Rats have been one of our adversaries in our inner suburban garden.

We almost gave up on keeping them away from our succulent leaves. We tried all the commercial solutions, such as rat traps (only humane options) and deterrents. However, nothing worked. The rats were very familiar with the pitfalls and stayed well away.

What worked for us was companion planting plants that weren’t on the rat’s list of favorite foods, such as basil, mint, garlic, and thyme. We are happy to report our Jade tree survived the onslaught, and we’ve got new ones where the leaves started sprouting baby Jade plants.

new jade plants growing

We’ve also made it a point to maintain a tidy garden. We regularly clean the garden floor and pick up any fallen debris and seeds to prevent the rats from getting easy meals. The goal is to keep our yard to a minimum so rats will source their meals elsewhere.

Do Possums Eat Jade Plants?

Possums are highly annoying garden pests because they will not only enjoy eating your Jade but also eat and damage many more plants in your garden.

They are voracious omnivores that seemingly have no limits regarding food. Possums have excellent jumping skills and love to scale fence lines and jump from tree to tree to overcome any obstacle.

It is easy to tell if possums are raiding your Jade plants because possum feces will be scattered on the ground around them. They will usually eat at the crime scene, dropping bits and pieces as evidence for you to find in the morning.

How to Stop Possums from Eating your Jade Plants

Keeping possums away is challenging.

There is no sugarcoating it – if they want to get in, they will find a way. That said, deterring them is the best form of protection you can offer your garden.

Foul odors are one defense you can employ to keep possums away from your garden. Try a concoction of minced garlic and chili powder mixed into water and spray it around the leaves of your Jade plants.

Other Creatures that Will Eat Your Jade Plants

Besides the larger garden pests we have discussed above, there are smaller creatures that will attack your Jade in plain sight. These creatures, like insects and gastropods, have the advantage of being small, so they can easily hide under leaves in hard-to-reach places and continue to feed at any time of the day.

slugs eating jade plants

Snails and Slugs (gastropods)

Snails and slugs can quickly get out of hand when allowed to breed unencumbered. Your best line of defense is to remove any snails or slugs when you see them manually.

That said, slugs and snails usually come out under the darkness and will eat your Jade while you sleep. It also protects them from other predators like birds.

You will be able to see evidence that the gastropods have been eating your Jade because they leave behind a tell-tale trail of shimmery slime. They will also generally gnaw away on the surface of your Jade leaves, which is easy to identify.

If you know you have a gastropod problem, try adding freshly used coffee grounds to the surface of the soil around your plants. Snails and slugs can’t stand crossing over the grounds and will have no access to your plants.

Caterpillars and Insects

Jade plants are prone to caterpillar and sap-sucking insect infestations, like aphids and mealy bugs.

With their fleshy foliage and stems, it isn’t hard to see why.

Sap-sucking aphids and mealy bugs have specialized equipment to penetrate the thick waxy skin of the Jade.

The same applies to caterpillars. But instead of sucking the succulent insides, caterpillars will methodically eat the leaves, chewing their way from top to bottom until there is only a stub.

Aphids or mealy bugs will be grouped in tight bunches on your plants, congregating in the safety of numbers (ironically making them easier to see). They also like to hide on the underside of leaves.

Caterpillars are harder to spot because it is usually only one or two on the plant. But with some regular inspections and experience, you will learn how to spot them. Plus, they are masters of disguise, generally changing the color of their skin to match the Jade leaves.

How to Prevent Insects and Caterpillars from Eating Jade Plants

Proactive prevention is the easiest way to stop insects from causing issues with your Jade.

Regularly inspecting your Jade to see if there is any noticeable damage or missing leaves will alert you to the problem early.

Manually removing any pests and insects you see on your Jade will prevent the population from getting out of control. Apply a medium-pressure water spray to your Jade plants to dislodge insects or caterpillars.

What Animals Eat Jade Plants – Closing Comments

Discovering a half-eaten Jade plant can be a devastating experience. All your hard work, time, and love were decimated in a single night.

The best way forward is to identify the culprit(s) who attacked your Jade by examining the evidence at the crime scene.

Using this knowledge will help you develop a game plan to prevent future raids by implementing preventative measures.