Deer Behavior

Do Deer Eat Potatoes? Ways to Protect Your Garden

Buck Venwood

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Deer, the graceful inhabitants of woodlands and meadows, have diverse diets that often leave gardeners and farmers scratching their heads. One of the frequently asked questions is, do deer eat potatoes? The answer is both fascinating and essential for those looking to protect their crops.

Key Takeaways:

  • Deer are known to consume a variety of plants, including potatoes.
  • Potatoes are not a primary food source but can be eaten when other options are scarce.
  • Protecting potato crops from deer requires specific strategies.

The Allure of Potatoes for Deer

Potatoes, being underground tubers, are not the first choice for deer. However, when food is scarce, especially in the colder months, deer might dig up and consume these starchy delights. It’s not just the tubers; deer have been observed munching on potato leaves and stems, especially when the plants are young and tender.

For a visual representation of this behavior, you can watch this video:

Factors Influencing Deer’s Potato Consumption

Geographical Location

In some regions, deer might be more inclined to eat potatoes due to the scarcity of their preferred food sources. In areas where potatoes are a major crop, deer might develop a taste for them out of convenience.

Seasonal Changes

During spring and summer, deer have a plethora of food options. They usually prefer tender shoots, leaves, and fruits. However, as winter approaches and food becomes scarce, potatoes can become a more attractive option.

For more insights on deer behavior and their dietary preferences, you can visit:

Protecting Your Potato Crops

If you’re a gardener or farmer, the last thing you want is deer feasting on your hard-earned potato crops. Here are some strategies to consider:


A tall fence, preferably 8 feet or higher, can be an effective deterrent. Deer are excellent jumpers, so the height is crucial. Electric fences can also be used as a more aggressive deterrent.

Natural Repellents

There are several deer repellents available in the market. These can be sprayed on and around the crops. Homemade repellents, like a mixture of eggs and water, can also be effective.

For more tips on protecting your crops from deer, check out this video:

Potato Varieties and Deer Preferences

Not all potatoes are created equal. There are numerous varieties, each with its unique taste and texture. While there isn’t concrete evidence suggesting deer prefer one type over another, anecdotal evidence from farmers suggests that some varieties might be more appealing than others.

Potato VarietyDescriptionDeer Preference
RussetThick-skinned and starchy. Commonly used for baking.Moderate
RedThin-skinned and waxy. Often used in salads.High
Yukon GoldYellow-fleshed and buttery. Versatile culinary uses.Low

The Impact on Deer Health

While potatoes are not toxic to deer, they are not the most nutritious option either. Consuming large quantities can lead to digestive issues. Moreover, green potatoes or those exposed to sunlight can develop solanine, a toxic chemical. While rare, there have been instances where deer have been poisoned by consuming green potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are potatoes toxic to deer?

While potatoes themselves are not inherently toxic to deer, the green parts of the potato plant can be harmful. The leaves and stems of potato plants contain toxic alkaloids like tomatine and solanine. Consuming large quantities can lead to digestive issues in deer. However, deer, like other ruminants, have a chambered digestive system that allows them to consume plants that might be toxic to humans. This means that while they can eat these plants, it’s not necessarily the best for their health.

2. How can I protect my potato garden from deer?

There are several strategies you can employ to keep deer away from your potato garden:

  • Fencing: A tall fence, preferably 8 feet or higher, can deter deer.
  • Natural Repellents: Spraying repellents, either commercially available or homemade mixtures like egg and water, can deter deer.
  • Predator Scents: Using scents from predators like coyotes or lions can keep deer at bay.

3. Do deer have a preference for certain potato varieties?

There isn’t concrete evidence to suggest that deer have a preference for one potato variety over another. However, anecdotal evidence from farmers and gardeners might indicate that some varieties are more appealing to deer than others. It’s essential to observe local deer behavior and consult with local farmers or gardeners to get a better understanding of deer preferences in your area.


Buck Venwood

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