Everyone knows that raccoons will eat almost anything they find, so if you’re finding half-eaten tomatoes in your garden or yard, you might be wondering, do raccoons eat tomatoes?
Raccoons most certainly do eat tomatoes. Keep in mind that raccoons are opportunistic eaters, which means they will eat anything that is easily accessible to them, and this includes the fruits and vegetables growing in your garden. But that doesn’t mean that all of your half-eaten foods have been devoured by raccoons.
Even though raccoons will certainly eat the tomatoes in your garden, the truth is that many other animals will, too.
Raccoons usually don’t eat this fruit right off the vine but rather, they will pick the low-hanging tomatoes and get them that way.
They will also eat tomatoes from your trash can and those that have fallen into the grass.
In general, tomatoes that have been gnawed at by raccoons will look like they’ve been bitten by a small dog or even a toddler.
So if your tomatoes look as if your toddler has taken a few bites and then left them alone, you could very well have a raccoon problem.
Other signs that the culprit may be a raccoon include:
- Your garbage cans have been raided
- There are raccoon track marks or poop in your yard
- There are holes in your lawn
- You notice several half-eaten discarded tomatoes in your yard
- Your bird feeders are empty
Not all of these signs need to be present for it to mean that raccoons have wreaked havoc in your tomato garden. But, if you don’t notice any of these signs, it’s likely that the culprit is another animal besides a raccoon.
Ripe juicy tomatoes are attractive not just to humans but to many animals as well.
Raccoons are nocturnal, so if your tomatoes look great during the day and are partially eaten the next morning, it could mean that they are the ones eating your fruits.
Let’s take a look at some of the other nocturnal animals that might be eating your garden foods besides raccoons.
- Birds. Birds are not nocturnal, so it’s easier to catch them actually eating your tomatoes. Birds will also eat every part of the tomato, including the vines and leaves, unlike raccoons, who only eat the fruit and will leave the greenery alone.
- Deer. Here is one animal that absolutely loves tomato plants! As with other animals, deer will eat the entire fruit, including the leaves and vines. They also start at the top of the plant, so if you see large bites in the top of the plant but little damage near the bottom, deer are likely your problem.
- Opossum. Opossums are similar to raccoons when it comes to their eating styles, but there are ways to tell the difference. Raccoons usually prefer fruit that is almost ripe, while opossums prefer them to be overripe or even decaying. Also, opossums have two-toothed bite marks you can look out for.
- Rats. It’s usually easy to tell if rats are your problem because all you have to do is look for their poop. Rat poop looks like tiny black pellets, and they usually prefer tomatoes that are near a wall or a plant bed that’s located on the edge of your yard.
- Skunks. Instead of taking several bites out of the tomato then discarding it like raccoons do, skunks usually take one bite then leave the fruit on the vine. Skunks prefer eating grubs in the soil, so they sometimes take a bite out of a tomato if it gets in the way of them digging in the soil.
The answer to the question, do raccoons eat tomatoes, is a resounding “yes,” and the bad news is that it is often very difficult to avoid the problem.
The best way to deter raccoons is to remove the foods in your garden, but for most people this isn’t a good option. A physical barrier between the tomatoes and the raccoons will sometimes help, but mesh netting usually doesn’t work on them.
The best thing to do if you want the raccoons to stay away from the tomato plants in your yard is to erect a mini greenhouse so the raccoons aren’t able to get near the plants in your garden.
Lots of animals love bright red juicy tomatoes, which is completely understandable.
Once you learn what to look for in your yard, it’s a lot easier to determine what animal is eating your tomatoes.
Half-eaten discarded tomatoes, holes in your lawn, and raided garbage cans usually indicate that raccoons are the culprit, but the solution to the problem is usually a little more complicated than most people realize, though not impossible.