Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes & 7 GREAT Ways to Keep Them Out of Your Garden

Squirrels are fuzzy and adorable, but they’re also notoriously mischievous. They can be a nuisance when they come into your garden to eat the vegetables you’ve planted. What do you do if squirrels are eating your tomatoes?

Squirrel eating cherry tomatoes

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes off the Vine?

It’s common for squirrels to eat tomatoes when they’re in their growing phase, but do squirrels eat tomatoes on the vine?

Squirrels and other pests like rabbits and deer are notorious for eating garden vegetables, especially if you grow your crops right next to a fence or woodpile where the critters have easy access.

Squirrels will 100% eat tomatoes off the vine, but they’ll also eat tomatoes on the ground. If you have any overripe ones that have fallen, make sure to move them away from the garden.

What Do Squirrels Generally Eat?

Squirrels are omnivores, which means that their diet is comprised of mostly plants but they’ll also eat a few eggs and small insects. Some common foods in a squirrel diet include nuts, seeds, fruit, berries, mushrooms, and insects like grasshoppers or bird eggs.

Squirrels will consider what they eat based on their needs and their environment. They like to eat what’s available, so if you’re growing garden vegetables near a large family of them, you’re going to want to consider how to keep squirrels out of your garden as they’re going to think of your tomatoes as being fair game. However,

How Far Do Squirrels Travel for Food?

The distance that a squirrel will travel to find food depends on the availability of their usual sources and what they like to eat.

For example, if you live in an area where pine nuts are abundant, squirrels will be more likely to dig for these as opposed to acorns or pecans since it’s part of their natural diet.

Squirrels are also creatures of habit, so they’ll stick to the same feeding grounds year after year. You might get lucky and have them decide to give your yard a pass for another year, but you’re more likely to see them again next spring or summer.

How Much Do Squirrels Eat Per Day?

The amount of food that a squirrel will eat in one day is dependent on their body size and how large an area they have to feed themselves from.

For example, adult animals have larger appetites than their babies.

After being weaned off of their mother’s milk, they are left to fend for themselves and will typically need more food as they’re growing to adult size. You can expect them to eat about three handfuls of food a day in the early stages of growth and up to 10 or 15 when they’re full grown.

How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Tomatoes

Here are 7 ways to help keep them out of your garden and away from your tomato plants.

Get a Dog or Cat

Not just for the chasing, which can be effective for keeping squirrels out, but also fun for the dog.

In addition, dog and cat hair is a great repellent for squirrels because they do not like their scent. After you brush your dog, sprinkle their hair around the garden to help repel squirrels (rabbits hate this too!).

Fake Predators

This is a cheap option that works great! Squirrels are terrified of owls and hawks, as they can become food quickly for them.

You can also drop a rubber snake near your tomatoes and they’ll know not to go near it.

However, you’ll want to move these fake predators pretty regularly as squirrels aren’t stupid, and will notice a lack of movement.

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Fencing and Covers

Physical barriers are often a great option – but don’t expect a fence by itself to keep them out. Squirrels climb 100-foot tall trees, you don’t think they can climb your 5-foot fence? 🙂

I’ve watched squirrels climb my fence and then proceed to eat an almost ripe tomato from my garden while watching me. Jerks.

To fully keep them out, you’ll want to add a lid to your fence in the form of netting or wire mesh. Install hardware cloth over your tomato plants. Hardware cloth is made of metal with small holes in it, so you can easily see through it, and squirrels cannot climb it.

Add a second layer with wire mesh to make sure that the holes are small enough that squirrels can’t fit through.

Use netting or chicken wire to cover your tomatoes, as this will also prevent climbing creatures from getting at them.

Companion Plants

Companion planting is an ancient technique that uses plants to distract and confuse pests from finding your actual food.

  • daffodils
  • Alliums
  • Garlic
  • Onions

These are all good options for keeping squirrels out of the garden.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Ready for a good laugh AND an awesome way to keep squirrels away from your tomato plants?

Enter: the motion-activated sprinkler.

This bad boy will send squirrels running for their lives, and stop them from eating your tomatoes.

Motion-Activated Sprinkler with Day & Night Detection Modes
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Get a trail cam to capture the footage so you can post it on YouTube and we can all laugh with you 🙂

Garden Location

The first thing that you want to consider is where you’re locating your garden.  If it’s close enough to a fence or tree line for squirrels to easily jump in and out of the garden, you’ll have a problem.  To keep this from happening, consider placing your garden further away from trees or fences…or follow the next steps!

Spikes or Spiny Plants

There are many types of spiky plants that can really make life difficult for squirrels, but be careful that you don’t introduce one to your garden that could harm or kill another creature.

If you want to go this route, consider a castor bean plant, as it has large spikes that are very painful to get in contact with and also causes the digestive system to shut down.  The smell of the seed pod is also very unpleasant and will keep all types of animals away from your tomatoes. However, the castor bean plant is toxic to humans so handle it with caution!

squirrel on ground

Keeping Squirrels Out of the Garden

Squirrels are a real problem for gardeners. They can eat up to 15 tomatoes in one day and make it difficult to keep them out of your garden. Luckily, there are many inexpensive and effective ways that you can use to protect your plants from these furry creatures. Whether you’re looking for companion planting ideas or the best way to deter squirrels with spikes, our article will help you find what works for your home!

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