Animal eating my tomatoes - How do I make them stop?

mistylynnAugust 9, 2008

I have planted tomato plants and have had no trouble until the tomatoes start to ripen. I have had 5 tomatoes half eaten. They have been taken off the vine. Because of this I do believe that it must be an animal instead of an insect. In my neighborhood we have plenty or squirrels, birds and a few small bunnies. I know that birds eat tomatoes so I have tied shiny metallic ribbons all over my tomato cages and fence to the garden. I also put up my life size scarecrow. What else can I do to prevent them from being eaten? Do squirrels or rabbits eat tomatoes??


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Go to Lowes and buy a spray bottle of "Repels All". They won't cross the area where it is sprayed. I use to set up a "perimeter" of sorts. Squirrels won't come down a tree if you spray it on the bark. It lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks and then you respray. You don't have to use much.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:15PM
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I don't know if this works for sure but I read that someone was using chile powder made from his dried peppers supposedly to keep critters away. Just a thought..

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:17PM
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Probably Squirells. Birds pecking fruit would leave them on
the vine......

The suggestions so far are good to try.
Also, you could try a small bird bath. Perhaps they're looking
for water....


    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 6:52AM
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It sounds like squirrels to me. I had the exact same problem. Once they found the ripe tomatoes they haven't stopped at all, eating the large green ones, and now even the small green ones. I tried the repel sprays but it stopped the squirrels only for one day. I tried buying a rubber snake, and that didn't do anything. Now Im trying to cover the actual fruit. It has worked so-so. I have lost a 2 tomatoes in the past 3 days, much better than the 2 or more tomatoes a day. I wish i could totally caged my tomatoes but in my current setting it doesnt work. Get ready for war! Here is a pic of current set up.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 10:32AM
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I have a huge groundhog getting at mine. Repellents aren't working. This may sound a little eccentric, but 4 days ago I went out at night and peed into his two holes into our yard (when I blocked them he dug around). No damage since then.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 2:38PM
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I have chased ground hogs, rabbits, deer, and squirels from my garden. Usually dawn and dusk. I am very vocal and wave my arms and band a big stick. I leave them alone when they are not in the garden. They seem to learn that they can't touch the garden.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 3:29PM
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Pee isn't at all eccentric, in fact it's one of the best animal repellents. They sell bobcat and coyote urine for big money, but even coyotes are afraid of humans! Fill your empty milk gallons with pee and pour it around your garden. Re-apply after every rain. Try fencing your garden plot to keep out rabbits and woodchucks. Deer will eat ripe fruit and graze the foliage, even though it's poisonous to them and makes them sick [ stupid deer ], the pee will deter them. look for tracks [ loosen the soil around the plants so any animal will have to leave footprints ] . This will give you an idea what you're dealing with. If it's squirrels, set havaheart traps baited with peanut-butter and birdseed. Fill a trash can with water and give the little so-and-so a swimming lesson! If you feed birds, stop it. This just makes our summer friends lazy and attracts squirrels. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 3:57PM
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windclimber(z5 KS,close to KCMO)

I completly enclosed our garden this year 19 plants,......... an elaborate array of small ga. welded wire w/ poultry wire ziptied over the 4" sq. holes...... bamboo poles lashed at the top and bird netting (several layers).
It keeps them from free rein in the garden but they will stop at nothing to find an entry point

We narrowed the damage definativly to squirrels and chipmunks. Squirrels will eat what they want and leave damaged fruit around. We have observed them last year carrying green toms up to the nest.
Chips will do the same ...eating some off of one fruit and damaging others, leaving it on the vine as they are light and climb the stem to the biggest just ripening fruit.

We have caught two inside one time and one big one another.

If you can give them a good ride with a whiffleball bat they get the message for a while. But they won't give up.

If you are serious about not loseing prize or valuble fruits, you must be preemptive.

Chips can get in under or thru because they are so small.
Being destructive to the property they lose my favored status, same with all rodents,....... squirrels , mice, rats, chips. (They all can carry deadly disease)

I don't savor killing anything, but when all means are exausted, like war, it becomes a necessary evil.

Sister dears convinced mothballs detered them in her garden , so they are spread all about the perimeter as we speak........Sigh.........We'll see.......

Part of gardening.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 5:24PM
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I hate to admit this, however since I first heard about urine several years ago, I have been discharging gallons over the years just outside my raised beds. IT WORKS! The deer are gone, the racoon's stay their distance, I do not even have rabbit problems anymore. Those little cuties used to stop by after hours and clear a 4" wide strip right across the entire base of my bean trellis in one night. The li'l furballs would get each and every beanstalk just as the beans were approaching blooming age. I also bought a bagless vacuum and deposit the contents in and all around the same area year long. The human and dog hair seems to also make a difference to whatever walks or crawls toward our garden. No more fences and no more problems now for years! We have no neighbors across the rear of the property, just open state park full of deer and every other wandering critter. The hair balls are covered quickly in the nasturtium that covers the canyon behind our home so one rarely notices the post vacuum debris. Urine odor is not noticeable either, I think....

Now if we could just get rid of the damn gophers!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 11:59PM
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Hi, this is my first time here. I'm desperate about my tomatoes being eaten off the vine. I can see I'm not alone! Yesterday, before I found this forum, I hit on venusruiz's idea of putting mesh bags around the tomato clusters because I would go out and find teeth marks in the half-eaten fruit. Just now, I cannot believe that "they" have eaten half of a tomato that is inside a mesh bag whose openings are so small, nothing could get in there. And there are no teeth marks or openings in the bag!! How can this possibly be? At this point, I will lose all my tomatoes. I am guessing that urine may be the only thing that works. I've never had this much of a problem before. The fruit is 4 feet off the ground, too!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Hi Jef190, I had them try to steal the tomatoes from inside the mesh bags, they managed to rip 3 tomatoes of the stems and try to bite thru the mesh, making holes on the mesh but couldnt get them out. Of those 3, I found one of my bags hanging loose from the stem the biten tomato still inside, 1 disappear from the mesh bag, the other the bag was attacked, the tomato broken from the stem, but still inside the bag unharmed. Since then I've been very careful to tie the bag really good leaving no holes. Now, it seems they are giving up, Since i started, last week, they attacked the first couple of days, but now i havent seen them. How strong is the mesh you are using? I feel your frustation :(

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:41AM
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windclimber(z5 KS,close to KCMO)

venus............ they will not give up........ they are given the instinct to persist until they are banished or terrorists.......

I noticed the main players this morning frustrated at not getting lush vegitation from the tomatoes, chewing on tropicals and after that weeds down the fenceline.

I believe they need some nutrient from the vegatation, or perhaps it feels good to their gums after breaking open nuts all day...shoulder shrug........

Interesting they wait until you let your guard down and then strike.

I view them as a predator rodent. I believe in live and let live w/ all this case we are at the top of the food chain, given dominion over them.....they are incapable of thought or emotion..... thats the mistake lots of people make.

We have a Constitution that I take seriously to protect Life and property..............they will lose.....


    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 12:10PM
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Thanks so much to all those that have posted. I'll give these ideas a shot and let you know how it goes!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 1:47PM
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chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)

Only mammals can taste the hot peppers, but not birds, so chile peppers work well for deterring mammals. That's why they sell a repellant mixed with bird seed: it repels mammals, like squirrels, but the birds don't taste the pepper at all.

Also, human urine works well on many animals, including deer. Just respray every 2 weeks or after every rain.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:35AM
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I know it is the squirrels. There are lots of little squirrels this season because the crows came to this area and crows chase away the hawks, who used to keep the squirrel population in check. So bad on the crows.
I have used bird netting, but not over the plants. I put it low and bunched up so any small creatures approaching the toms have to walk on it or through it. It is a tangle. Then I put CDs hanging off strings attached to each end of a small pole that fits through a hole drilled in a 2X2. They teeter and catch light in the wind. Spooked me a couple times. I also have started using the pee. Collect it in a bucket and toss it on the perimeter.

I believe that it is only 1 or 2 squirrels that have developed this "taste" for my tomatoes. I've got an air rifle, but I live in a city and I'm not sure I want the police wondering what I'm doing taking potshots. The damage so far has been annoying though, no doubt about it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Last year I covered my tomatoes with chicken wire. This year the squirrels have eaten my nectarines, and pears. They have eaten a few tomatoes off of a tomato plant that I put in a container. I put chicken wire around the container, but not over the top. No squirrels so far. That is what my neighbor did last year to his cages.

See my Flicker photo's of how I covered my tomatoes last year with chicken wire.

So far this year I have picked 69 pound of tomatoes off of you 13 tomato plants.


Here is a link that might be useful: Flicker Photo, Tomatoes Covered With Chicken Wire

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 7:29PM
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windclimber(z5 KS,close to KCMO)

IMO.............if varmits are an issue to you.......spreading mothballs, urinating all over, plant flowers, spend money on concoctions, try any form of wives tales or use voodo,...................the only way to be sure your garden is safe is to implement in some form k2marshes method. Been there done that, over and over.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 7:54PM
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the only solution is to get rid of them. you can not co exist with them. trap them out.

Here is a link that might be useful: traps

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 10:08PM
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What do I do with the squrrels after I catch them. Take them back over to Piedmont Park behind my house, or put them in the woods behind my house?

You don't think I can catch all the squirrels that are in the park do you?

What is better. Spend $22.00 for a squirrel trap, or spend $22.00 on chicken wire? Chicken wire works.

Birds, dogs, and wild animals mark their teritory. It should work proviede you mark yours before the squirrels mark theirs. Ha!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 7:30PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

Well, I was mad at my new puddy cat for leaving furry tailed presents at the door....but what a favor she did!!!!!
Problem with catch and release is you just create a problem for someone else's tomatoes.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 2:05AM
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