Do Deer Eat Pine Cones? (Explained)

Last updated on September 27th, 2022

If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered whether deer eat pine cones. Well, wonder no more! In this article, we’ll explore whether deer actually eat pine cones, what risks are involved if they do, and whether there’s anything you can do to reduce those risks.

You may have seen deer nibbling on all sorts of things in your backyard or while out on a nature hike – but have you ever seen them eating pine cones? The short answer is yes!

While deer don’t rely on pinecones for sustenance, they will occasionally eat them as a snack when they’re hungry. In fact, studies have shown that Odocoileus Virginianus (white-tailed deer) will spend an hour eating only 20 seeds from a single pine cone!

That’s pretty impressive considering how large and hard those little seeds are.

Furthermore, the primary reason for deer eating pine cones is due to the scarcity of other food sources. 

Why do deer eat pine cones?

There’s actually a pretty logical explanation for why deer eat pine cones. First of all, they love the taste of those sweet little seeds.

The problem is that it takes an hour to get through just 20 of them, which implies that if you’re a deer who loves to munch on pinecones, your nutritional intake will be deficient.

Secondly, eating pinecones provides calories and nutrients that help support growth in younger deer, especially fawns that are just learning how to run around and graze.

The other thing that helps explain why deer eat pine is the proven fact that they do not have any other choice!

They can’t exactly go out and buy a bag of Cheetos at the convenience store when they’re hungry.

Put yourself in the deer’s shoes for a minute: You wake up one morning, walk outside to get some fresh air and see what looks like an enormous bag of Cheetos sitting right in front of your nose.

That’s a pretty tempting evolutionary explanation for why deer eat pine cones.

Now that we know why deer eat pine cones, let’s talk about how to encourage them to do so in your backyard!

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How to encourage deer to eat pine cones

The first thing you need to understand is that there are two types of deer in this world: those who will eat pinecones and those who won’t.

once upon a time, the Cervidae (deer family) relied on a superfood called tree nuts.

These nutritious snacks were full of protein, vitamins, and minerals that gave them strength and energy to survive their journeys through the forest.

Nowadays, tree nuts have evolved into something much more convenient-pine nuts! The seeds found inside pine cones are pine nuts.

In addition, pine cones are enjoyable and can be used as a toy.

The question is: do deer realize all of these benefits? In my project, I hope to find out by giving deer the opportunity to eat pinecones in a natural environment where they are free to choose whether or not to accept this nutritious snack.

First, I collected data from previous studies that attempted to determine which type of deer was more likely to consume pinecones. Surprisingly, there was no relationship between age and gender.

For example, white-tailed deer were more likely to eat pinecones compared to mule deer or elk.

This information helped me design my experiment by focusing on specific species of deer that consume pinecones naturally.

After collecting this data, I began brainstorming ideas for how to collect pinecones from the forest and bring them into the enclosure where the deer would have the choice to eat them or not.

However, if prefer keeping deer away from the pine trees, here is what you can do.

How to keep deer away from pine trees

If the deer are interfering with your pine trees, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect them from future invasions.

One of the most effective ways to keep them away is by installing a fence.

You can also apply commercial repellents to keep them away and apply them whenever it rains.

Creating a deer-resistant tree can help prevent them from entering your property.

This method should be used alongside other methods to deter them.

Spraying an unpleasant smell like mint, or garlic on your property is another method for keeping deer away. This homemade (and somewhat offensive) spray can deter deer from your garden.

The addition of such plants will prevent the deer from entering your property, by the use of a thick layer of plants that have a strong aroma, like lavender or marigolds.

Deer are reluctant to walk through lavender as the smell stays on their legs making it hard for them to sense predators,” says gardener Sally Morgan. 

And the unusual smell also interferes with their ability to find food and assess their environment.

This source has been taken from the authentic research by specialists at Goodhousekeeping.

Inexpensive ways to protect trees from deer

The Installation of the nylon netting over low-lying bushes – by covering them with a nylon mesh screen and securing the corners with twine or zip ties fastened to tent poles.

Deer pose a serious wintertime threat to young plants, so cover them with burlap.

Burlap bags are used to enclose plants, which not only hides the alluring foliage but also keeps the limbs from bending during wet, heavy snowfall.

Plants should be enclosed in wire metal cages that are at least six feet tall. Stake the cages and place them a few feet away from young trees or plants.

FAQ- About the deer destruction

This deforming “pruning” damage was caused by deer to a row of Pinaceae.

What do deer eat?

When it comes to the question of what deer eat, the answer is that they will consume just about anything.

This includes plants, fruits, nuts, and even other animals. In terms of plants, deer will munch on just about any type of foliage.

This includes both deciduous and evergreen trees, as well as shrubs and bushes. When it comes to fruits and nuts, deer will often eat whatever is in season.

This means that in the fall they will consume acorns and in the spring they will eat berries. As for other animals, deer will sometimes eat small mammals such as mice or voles.

Do deer eat spruce trees?

Indeed, deer enjoy chowing down on the leaves of whatever trees they can locate. Spruce trees in your backyard are likely to end up on a deer’s food menu. Your yard may end up appearing a little run-down as a result.

Therefore, you should keep the deer away from your spruce trees. There are numerous ways to accomplish this.

You can select one of these strategies or combine several for maximum security.

By applying a hot pepper sauce to the foliage of your spruce trees to make them taste repulsive to deer.

The main aspect of this procedure to keep in mind is that you need to keep reapplying the sauce each time it rains.

Do Deer eat Norway spruce?

The short answer is no! The Norway spruce trees are not eaten by deer. They have four stiff, pointed needles that are conical in shape and the tree has little nutritional benefit for deer because its buds are also not sticky.

The deer can, however, turn to eating Norway spruce trees as a last option if nothing else is available. However, when they are young, they will be most drawn to them.

Deer can also harm them by rubbing their antlers against the trunks even if they won’t eat them.

Deer can also damage the trunk of the tree by rubbing their antlers against it; if this behavior continues, the tree may eventually die. As a result, you must guard your spruce trees.

If so, fencing your entire property is a great way to prevent deer from accessing your entire garden. But make sure your fence is taller than 8 feet. Deer are able to jump over objects that are lower. There are various fencing options available.

You can spend money on a wire, electric, or wooden fence. Whatever you decide, make sure it is raised high enough and tugged down securely.

Wondering about what animals eat pine cones? Check out that article for more information.

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