Watermelons are amazing plants grown for their delicious fruit. They’re quite easy to grow.
Unfortunately, they’re prone to insects, ants, and even animal attacks.
Deer is a popular plant destroyer, but there are plants it doesn’t eat or nibble, is Watermelon among these plants.
Do Deer eat watermelons?
Yes, Deer will eat watermelon. Watermelon is a popular food choice for deer. This is especially during the summer months when it’s available fresh from local farmers, markets, and grocery stores.
Deer love the sweet taste of watermelon, and the juicy fruit is a great source of hydration and nutrients for them.
Generally, deer will eat the rind and flesh of a watermelon. However, if the watermelon is overly ripe or has been sitting out for a while, the deer may only eat the rind.
This is because overripe or stale watermelons tend to be sweeter and more palatable to deer.
If you are growing watermelons and have a lot of them, it may be beneficial to put up a fence around your garden to keep the deer away.
Otherwise, they may devour all of your watermelons before you get the chance to harvest them.
Why Do Deer Eat Watermelon?
1. An Animalistic Crave for Sugary Fruit
The first thing you might notice about a deer is its long nose – longer relative to body size than any other mammal’s – which ends with the animals’ upper lip and, as the story goes, the ability to use their long snouts to reach into waterside or swamp vegetation.
When it comes to eating, deer don’t have the advantage of being able to chew. Therefore, they can only push food partway back in their mouths with their tongues.
However, these animals are herbivores and have evolved an ability to store food for later digestion. This is by regurgitating semi-digested matter called cud back up their throats after chewing it.
2. Digestive Tracts Like a Cow’s
Deer are ruminants, meaning that just like cattle they are equipped with four stomach chambers that allow them to ferment tough plant materials.
This fermentation breaks down cellulose into simpler compounds that are easier for the animal to digest.
Unlike cows though, deer don’t have a section of their stomach specifically for breaking down grass – they get most of the cellulose nutrients they need from the leaves, twigs, and fruits they eat.
3. Finding Fruit in the Forest
One of the things that set deer apart from other animals is their diet diversity. While other herbivores might specialize in one type of plant food, deer are able to survive on a variety of different types including leaves, twigs, shoots, fruits, and nuts.
This adaptability helps them to survive in a variety of habitats including forests, meadows, and even suburban neighborhoods.
Fruit makes up a relatively small part of their overall diet (between 10-15%). It’s an important source of essential nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
And thanks to their adaptability, deer are able to find fruit even in the middle of winter when other food sources are scarce.
4. Watermelon is a Favorite
While deer will eat a variety of different fruits, watermelons are their favorites. In fact, they will often seek out watermelons even when other types of fruit are available.
5. Watermelon is Nutritious
While we humans might not think of watermelon as being a particularly nutritious fruit, it’s actually a good source of many different vitamins and minerals.
In fact, watermelon is a good source of 12 different vitamins including Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Biotin while also having a lot of potassium and other minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Plus, all this comes in a low-calorie package at 93 calories per cup.
6. Fruit is an Important Part of the Deer Diet
Deer have developed several traits that help them survive in the wild where food supplies are limited.
One of these important traits is their diet diversity which allows them to find fruit even when other food sources may be scarce. While they don’t eat many fruits compared to their overall diet (between 10-15%), it’s still an important part of what they eat.
7. Watermelon is Easy to Digest
The high sugar and water content of watermelons make them easy for deer to digest. This is important because it allows the animals to get the most out of the nutrients that are in the fruit.
In fact, deer can actually extract more nutrients from watermelon than they can from other fruits like apples or oranges.
8. Watermelon is Available Year-Round
Unlike other types of fruit, watermelons are available year-round. Deer can find them in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands all throughout the year.
While the availability of fresh watermelons may vary depending on where you live, there’s always a source somewhere.
9. Watermelons are Portable
Unlike some other types of fruit, watermelons are easy to carry around. Deer can take a bite of watermelon and then carry the rest with them as they continue to forage for food.
This is important because it allows them to get the most out of the nutrients that are in the fruit.
10. Watermelons are Affordable
Compared to other types of fruit, watermelons are relatively affordable. You can usually find them for sale at a fraction of the price of other types of fruit.
This makes them an ideal snack food for deer and helps them get the most out of their diet.
How To Prevent Deer From Eating Watermelon
1. Move your watermelon patch to the shade
Deer are comfortable in the sunlight, so they will want to hang out in shaded areas when possible.
To make sure they stay away from your watermelons, simply move your crop into the shade of larger plants or trees. This will work particularly well if you do not have much tree cover in your area.
2. Create a perimeter around the watermelon patch with an electric fence about 6′ high
This is one option that works particularly well for those who don’t want to invest time and money into other types of deer prevention techniques like spraying down plants with deer repellent or moving their garden further into the woods.
If you keep your melons separated from deer by a fence and it is properly electrified, this will keep them away from your watermelons.
3. Plant a lot of different types of melons
If you plant a ton of different types of melons in one large area, deer may not want to get involved with any. This is because they won’t be able to tell which ones are ripe and safe to eat.
Even if there are some ripe watermelons hanging out amongst the rest, the other smell might mask their scent too much for deer to notice.
4. Grow spiky or fuzzy plants near watermelon patches
The idea here is that deer won’t want to approach these areas because their hooves and antlers will get stuck.
Some people use these methods around fruit and vegetable patches and it seems to work pretty well.
5. Try planting a watermelon patch near other plants that deer don’t like
This is an excellent strategy for those who want to grow their watermelons as close as possible to their house or garden without worrying too much about deer ruining everything (this was my method).
I planted mine right next to the vegetable garden which also contains all kinds of herbs and flowers that deer don’t particularly like. If you plant something that they do like, though, this won’t be an effective solution anymore.
6. Plant one seed per hole and surround each seed with a liquid fence
If you plant just one seed per hole and surround it with a liquid fence, you can prevent many different types of animals from eating your melons. This is a pretty good solution but it does require some initial time, effort, and money to set this up.
7. Get deer-resistant varieties of watermelon
There are multiple different types of watermelons that are reportedly more resistant to deer attacks than others. Some examples include:
- Ace 55A – An open-pollinated variety with great taste and minimal rind damage. It can do well in most soil conditions, too.
- Mona Lisa – A very sweet, round melon perfect for many gardens with large crops that produce more flags (the tendrils on the vine) than other varieties making it easier to pick.
8. Plant seedless watermelons
There is no need to worry about deer eating seedless watermelons since they don’t contain any seeds. I recommend that you check out the Seedless Sugarloaf and Honeyheart varieties in particular if you’re looking for a good seedless watermelon
9. Get less common types of melons like casabas or canary melons
While deer love to eat many different types of melons, there are others that they aren’t particularly interested in.
For example, one type of melon called casaba reportedly does not taste very good. Therefore, deer do not generally want to eat them even if they find them.
Another type called canary will also not attract deer because it smells weird compared to other kinds of melons.
10. Harvest watermelons regularly
If you harvest your watermelons regularly, deer will not be as likely to bother eating them because they will not be as ripe.
This is a bit of an inconvenience but it’s better than having all of your hard work destroyed by deer.
There are multiple different ways that you can prevent deer from eating your watermelons.
While some methods may require more time or money than others, they all have the potential to work well in the right situation.
I hope that this article has helped to provide you with some useful information on how to protect your watermelon crop from those pesky deer.