Do Deer Eat Zucchini?

There are a lot of myths out there about what deer do and do not eat. One common question is: do deer eat zucchini?

Deer will usually avoid zucchini. Zucchini is categorized as deer resistant thanks to it’s hairy leaves and stems. However, deer will eat anything if they’re hungry enough, including all parts of zucchini plants.

There’s a bit more to learn about deer eating zucchini which we’ll cover in today’s guide.  Read on for more info.

Why Do Deer Eat Zucchini?

deer eating zucchini

As we covered, deer will eat zucchini if they’re hungry enough and when they’ve got the chance.

But why do they do this?

Well, for one, deer are browsing animals, meaning they’ll eat almost anything they come across if other food sources are running low.

They love leafy greens that are well-watered and fertilized, which makes zucchini a prime target for deer.

Your zucchini are most susceptible to deer when there are fewer other food choices around for them, and especially when the plants are young and the shoots and leaves are tender.

Additionally, deer will consume a wide variety of foods like zucchini based on opportunity.

If you’re not convinced, leave some zucchini out for deer to eat (or plant some), and wait to see what happens!

Are Zucchini Deer Resistant?

Yes, zucchini are somewhat deer resistant.

Deer are usually turned off by plants that have textures like coarse “hairs” or prickly leaves, and the fine hairs on the stems and leaves of zucchini plants do a good job of discouraging deer.

That doesn’t mean your zucchini are totally safe from hungry deer, though.

Your zucchini plants are most susceptible to deer damage when they are young and tender or when other food sources in their area have been depleted.

How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Zucchini?

How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Zucchini

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re protecting zucchini from hungry deer: their habits, your scent, repellent options, and when you plant them.

Deer will eat nearly anything if they’re hungry enough, so your main goal is making your garden as least inviting to deer as possible.

Check out our guide on how to keep deer from eating plants where we cover 25 quick and easy tips for keeping hungry deer out of your garden.

Will My Zucchini Grow Back After Deer Eat Them?

Zucchini is an annual, meaning that it’s lifecycle lasts for one season and then must be replanted.

If deer damage your zucchini plants, you’ll need to plant new seeds and start from scratch.

Are Zucchini Good For Deer To Eat?

Zucchini contain highly digestible fiber, water, and a good bit of carbs and protein, so they attract deer easily.

Feeding deer zucchini and parsnip greens provides them with the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium
  • Folate

These vitamins and minerals provide deer with many benefits.

Potassium is great for deer because it helps maintain good pH balance and aid in proper digestion.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins For Deer

Vitamins A, D, E, K, and calcium are fat-soluble, so they can be stored in the deer’s fat and liver to be used later as needed.

This means that calcium content from deer eating zucchini can be “stored up” for later use, which is highly beneficial.

Water-Soluble Vitamins For Deer

Vitamin C, B Vitamins, niacin, folic acid, and potassium are all water-soluble, which means they cannot be stored, so they must be replaced continually.

So a deer that eats zucchini for the potassium content must continue to consume foods that contain these necessary vitamins to stay healthy.

Can I Feed Zucchini To Deer?

do deer like zucchini

Feeding deer foods like zucchini occasionally is fine.

Feeding wild deer zucchini regularly poses a few problems, however.

Here’s why you shouldn’t feed zucchini to deer often.

Deer Need To Rely On Nature For Food

If you feed deer continuously, they may start relying on that food source, which will cause them to stop foraging in nature for foods that they need to survive.

Natural Foods Are Naturally Better For Deer

Feeding deer foods like zucchini can alter their diet significantly, depending on what you’re feeding them, increasing the chance of malnourishment.

Deer Should Have A Healthy Fear Of Humans

Second, it reduces a deer’s natural fear of humans, which can shorten their lifespan or put them in danger.

You May Attract Other (Unwanted) Wildlife

Putting extra food out for deer can also attract predators like coyotes, wolves, or mountain lions to the area, which put the deer (and potentially you) at risk.

You Can Increase The Transmission Of Diseases

If you have lots of deer in your area, think twice about putting out food continuously for them.

If you bring deer together at the same feeding site, it can increase their risk of contracting chronic wasting disease or other communicable diseases from each other.

How To Feed Deer Zucchini

will deer eat zucchini

Most gardeners and veggie growers want to keep deer away from their zucchini.

If you have extra zucchini or are looking to see if you can feed zucchini to deer in your backyard, this next part is for you.

There are a few things to keep in mind when feeding deer zucchini: the size of the portion and your scent.

Make sure to place the zucchini on the ground where they’re visible and can be easily reached by deer.

If deer are not normally around your area in winter, don’t feed them leading up to winter as they will not migrate where and when they should.

This will lead to the deer relying on you as their food source and can result in starvation.

Should I Cut Up Zucchini For Deer To Eat?

Deer are used to eating leafy greens like zucchini and the plant is also very tender, so you do not need to cut up zucchini when feeding them to deer.

Don’t Leave Your Scent On Deer Food

Deer have a keen sense of smell that allows them to smell human scent farther than bloodhounds can, and can smell up to six different scents at once.

Deer won’t eat food like zucchini if they have a strong human scent on them, so you should take care to minimize your trace.

You can do this by rinsing the zucchini and also washing your hands with antimicrobial soap.

Alternatively, you can put a few drops of apple cider vinegar on your hands when handling food you’ll be giving to the deer.

Another easy option is to use gloves when handling zucchini for deer to eat.

Consider The Amount Of Deer You’re Feeding

If you have lots of deer in your area, think twice about putting out food continuously for them.

If you bring deer together at the same feeding site, it can increase their risk of contracting chronic wasting disease or other communicable diseases from each other.

Do Deer Eat Zucchini? Wrapping Things Up

So, do deer eat zucchini?

The answer is yes, while zucchini are deer resistant, deer will absolutely eat zucchini plants if they’re hungry enough.

Deer are more attracted to young zucchini plants because they’re more tender, and will usually stay away from mature zucchinis.

Fortunately there are many methods you can use and combine to keep deer away from your zucchini if you need to.

Try a few and see what works best for you.

Have any observations to add to the discussion? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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