Deer eat cucumbers but only as a last resort when they do not have anything else to eat. Cucumbers are root vegetables; they have hairy peels and plenty of thorns, which are features that deer avoid when looking for plants to eat.
In this post, we answer all your deer and cucumber related questions, like what parts of cucumbers will deer eat. You will also learn some interesting facts about cucumbers.
Read on to learn more.
Do deer like to eat cucumbers?
Deers have a rather complicated digestive system and specific nutritional requirements. They will thus eat foods that are exciting to their taste buds and highly nutritious.
Cucumbers are nutritious, but their powerful scent, thorny stem, and thick skin place the plant last on the deer food list.
Let us look at the different parts of a cucumber vegetable and whether or not deer will eat them.
Do deer eat cucumber leaves?
Cucumber leaves are large, and obviously, they are what deer first notice when they come across the plant. However, deer rarely eat them; the leaves have some tiny hairs, which give the deer a funny feeling when chewing.
Jane Ann, a homeowner and gardener in Greendale, Milwaukee, wrote that the mule deer in her area never touched her cucumber leaves in a popular gardening forum.
Anne noted that most times when she found deer had invaded her garden, most damages were on the cabbages and broccoli. The deer would simply walk over the cucumbers as if they were not there.
Do deer eat cucumber vines?
Like all other plants, cucumbers have developed means to protect themselves against predators like deer, herbivores, and insects. One of such ways is growing tiny hairs and thorns all around the plant’s vines.
The thorns and tiny hairs irritate and pierce the deer’s mouth. Even though deer have a tough tongue and lining in their mouths, they still experience difficulty eating thorny plants.
As a result, deer seldom eat cucumber vines.
Do deer eat cucumber peels?
Cucumber peels have a distinctive smell, which, as we have learnt, deer don’t like. In addition, some cucumber varieties have thorns on the cucumber peels, plus a rough texture.
Deer prefer eating sweet foods; hence, they will not eat cucumber leaves when another tastier option is available.
Are cucumbers toxic to deer?
Cucumbers aren’t poisonous to deer; as stated earlier, they can and will eat the plant. However, like humans, they won’t leave sweet fruits like apples to eat, cucumbers with thorns and are challenging to eat.
Initially, there were rumours that cucumbers were toxic to the deer, but they were quickly put aside after scientists reported that cucumbers were healthy for deer.
The nutritional benefit of cucumbers to deer
Even though deer do not occasionally eat cucumbers, they benefit from the plant’s high amounts of nutrients when they do.
The table below shows the nutrients and minerals a deer can obtain from 30 grams of cucumber.
All of the nutrients named above are critical to a deer’s well being. For instance, calcium and phosphorus aid the growth of antlers in male deer. Whereas to mules they assist in bone development and production of milk.
Benefits of growing cucumbers in your backyard
By growing cucumbers in your backyard, you get plenty of benefits.
Firstly, cucumbers are considered deer-resistant plants, which also means that you can use them to keep deer away from your other crops.
You will have to plant the cucumbers all around the garden and randomly in between some of the plants. The cucumbers’ strong scent will somewhat mask the other crop’s smells like the bananas.
Deer have a superb sense of smell, which guides them while searching for food. Therefore, when they find your garden has plenty of cucumbers, the chances of invasion reduce drastically.
In addition, deer are animals of habit, meaning that once they find a food source, they will keep coming back for more.
However, they will rarely come back when they come across a garden with plants they don’t like.
Secondly, regularly eating cucumbers has immense health benefits, as explained below.
Cucumbers constitute 90% water; the plant is, therefore, suitable for hydration. Staying hydrated is essential because it reduces the risks of constipation, kidney stones and much more.
Cucumbers have vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and calcium absorption; hence, you will have stronger bones.
Being a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, cucumbers contain adequate amounts of cucurbitacin.
Scientists have proven that cucurbitacin may help stop the spread of cancer by preventing the cancer cells from reproducing.
Cucumbers are rich in fiber, and the American Heart Association (AHA) says fiber can help control cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular health problems.
Applying cucumber slices directly on the skin helps reduce skin inflammations and irritation. Moreover, daily placing the cucumber slices on your eyes will remove morning puffiness.
Common types of cucumbers you can grow.
- Armenian Cucumbers
- Japanese cucumbers
- Kirby cucumbers
- Lemon cucumbers
- Persian cucumbers
How to protect your cucumber plants from deer
It is worth noting that sometimes, deer may develop a taste for your cucumbers. This mainly occurs if you live in an area where many people grow cucumbers.
You can protect your cucumbers by
Setting up a tall double fence that should be about eight feet high.
Applying deer repellent sprays. For the sprays to work effectively, spray at least once a week and after heavy rains.
Place human hair around your garden. Scientists have proven that deer will stay away from plants with human hair.
Jeffery Storm, a lead deer researcher at Noble Research Institute, said that deer could not stand the smell of human hair.
Plant herbs with a pungent smell like marigold, chives, mint, and lavender. Deer do not like walking through such plants because their scents stick on the deer’s skin and make them noticeable to predators.
Interesting facts about cucumbers
- Cucumbers are monoecious, meaning that they can produce both male and female flowers.
- Botanists group cucumbers as fruits, but they are mainly used as vegetables.
- Michigan State is the leading producer of pickling cucumbers and the fourth in fresh cucumber production.
- Cucumbers were first grown domestically in India during the third millennia BC [source].
- The term “as cool as a cucumber” started because the plant usually has a temperature difference between the inside and outside. Hence, the inside may be cool and the outer part warm.
- Christopher Columbus brought the first cucumber to Haiti in 1494, and from then, they spread out all over the globe.
- German police found $56.28 million worth of drugs hidden inside pickle cucumber jars in a shipment destined to Iran from Germany [source].
- The heaviest cucumber ever grown weighed 23 pounds and was planted by David Thomas from the United Kingdom in 2015.
- You can use the waxy cucumber coating to remove ink by rubbing it over the ink slowly.
- Cucumbers can cure hangovers because they contain many electrolytes, which lower the severity of a headache. You can thus eat a few cucumber slices before you sleep for them to be effective.
- You can grow cucumbers in soilless mediums such as hydroponic systems.