Do raccoons eat tomatoes? You’re probably asking yourself this if you’ve found half-eaten tomatoes in your yard.
Raccoons do eat tomatoes they find your yard. As opportunistic eaters, raccoons will eat tomatoes from your trash or from a tomato plant. Rather than eating the fruit directly off the vine, raccoons will pick off the low-hanging tomatoes. Finding several discarded tomatoes which are half-eaten is a good sign a raccoon is scavenging in your yard.
Yet it’s not always that simple. There are a few animals that may be the culprit for eating tomatoes in your yard. If you’re looking to prevent them from coming back you’ll need to get to the bottom of whether this is a raccoon problem or not.
This guide will take you through how to identify what is eating the tomatoes and the best way to stop it from happening.
Sound good? Then let’s get started.
Is it a Raccoon eating your tomatoes?
Raccoons are opportunistic eaters and will pretty much eat anything they can get their hands on.
Of course, a big juicy ripe tomato is going to look delicious. A hungry raccoon won’t hesitate to steal a few tomatoes off the plant in your yard.
The raccoon will only be interested in the tomato fruit and won’t attempt to eat the leaves or vines.
Raccoon bite marks will look like that of a dog or even a small toddler. They tend to take a few bites. Think of a raccoon like a toddler who comes along and takes a few bites of an apple and puts it back in the fruit bowl!
There are a few other signs you can look for to determine if your tomato thief is a raccoon.
Signs you have raccoons in your yard are:
- Several discarded tomatoes which are only half eaten
- Garbage cans have been raided
- Holes in your lawn
- Empty bird feeders
- Raccoon poop
- Raccoon track marks
If you have noticed a few of these signs in your yard, then you can move on to step to try and deter the raccoon from eating the tomatoes in your yard. We’ll discuss how to do that later in this article.
However, if you don’t notice any of these signs, then a raccoon may not be the problem for you.
Let’s take a look at what else might be eating your tomatoes.
What is eating my tomato Plants at night?
Raccoons are the easy target to think of when your tomato plant has been raided during the night. However, there are a few nocturnal creatures that will happily eat tomatoes from your yard.
Skunks are another opportunistic night feeder. The best way to tell the difference between a skunk and raccoon eating your tomatoes is the evidence left behind.
A raccoon will pluck the tomato off the vine, take a few bites and then discard it. They will then move on to another tomato and do the same thing. That means you’ll find several tomatoes over your yard.
A skunk will likely take a single bite out of one tomato and leave it on the vine.
You’ll find that a skunk bitten tomato will be lower to the ground.
Skunks prefer to hunt for grubs in the soil. It’s most likely a skunk will have taken a bite of tomato if it was hanging in the way of getting to the soil.
The easiest way to tell of its rats that are eating your tomatoes is to look for rat poop.
Rats will leave scat trails near where they eat. Rat poop looks like tiny little black pellets.
You’ll find that rats are more likely to feed on your tomatoes if they are near a wall or a plant bed on the edge of your yard.
Rays are more likely to eat tomatoes that are near the ground. Yet they will climb or jump to get tomatoes that are higher up.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that rats will only leave small bites in a tomato. They can eat quite a portion. You’ll notice that a rat-eaten tomato isn’t a few clean bites. The bites will be lots of small grooves. You may even see scratch marks on the soft skin where they’ve tried to steady the tomato as they eat.
Opossums are like raccoons with their eating styles. It can be difficult to tell which one is causing the issue.
One tell-tale sign is to consider how fresh your tomatoes are. If they are almost ripe, then it’s likely to be a raccoon. If your tomatoes are overripe or decaying, then it’s more likely to be an opossum. This isn’t a foolproof sign but it can help to pinpoint the culprit.
Another way to tell if an opossum has eaten your tomatoes is to look at the bite marks on the fruit. With an opossum, you’re likely to see a lot of two-toothed bite marks.
Deer are notorious for eating tomatoes plants.
The difference between deer and raccoons is that the deer won’t just eat the tomato fruits. They will eat pretty much the whole plant.
Deer will feed on the top of the tomato plant down due to them being bigger than raccoons.
If you see large bites from the top of the tomato plant with little to no damage near the bottom, then you have a deer problem.
You may have a bird problem if you find your tomatoes are getting eaten as they start to ripen.
Birds will mainly feed on your tomatoes throughout the day, so you’re more likely to catch them in the act than the other nocturnal animals.
Bird marks can be small circular pecks but can look like large chunks if a bird stays and eats for a while.
Some fruit seeds are toxic for wild birds, however, tomatoes are safe.
You’ll notice that birds will eat tomatoes from any part of the plant. They’ll usually start higher up and work their way down. Some birds will take the leaves and vines to build nests.
How to stop raccoons for eating your tomatoes
The best way to stop a raccoon from eating your tomato plants is to deter them from coming to your yard in the first place. Check out my article on 14 ways to deter raccoons from your yard.
The problem is that part of the efforts to stop raccoons vesting is to make sure you don’t have food on offer. And by growing tomatoes in your yard, you’ll be attracting them with food.
A lot of the deterrents will still work but you’ll likely need to use a few of them together. IF you have a persistent raccoon then you’ll need to consider using a physical barrier between the raccoon and the tomatoes.
A simple mesh netting you use for birds won’t work on raccoons. You’ll need to consider a mini greenhouse (this one is a great solution for most yards) that will keep any nocturnal muncher at bay.
Why do raccoons eat tomatoes?
Raccoons will mainly eat tomatoes because they have the opportunity to. Raccoons need to eat a huge amount of food to keep themselves healthy and to thrive over longer periods like wintertime.
Tomatoes will provide raccoons with energy as well as a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
Why do raccoons only half eat tomatoes?
Although raccoons eat tomatoes they are not exactly a favorite. Tomatoes are sweet which the raccoons like. However, nightshades like tomatoes are highly acidic.
The acidity can cause stomach upset for raccoons. The acidity may also be quite irritating to the raccoons as they feed. This is why you’ll usually find several tomatoes with a few bites out which are then discarded.
Raccoons will eat tomatoes if they have the opportunity to. You’ll find there are various signs that point to raccoons as the tomato thief. This includes several half-bitten fruits, a raided lawn, and even raccoon poop.
There are other animals that may be responsible for eating your tomatoes. It’s important to figure out who is responsible before you try to put deterrents in place.