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Do Deer Eat Apples? (Yes, But Dangerous!)

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Deer eat apples; however, apples shouldn’t be a regular part of a deer’s diet. To deer, apples are a tasty treat, the same way candy is to humans, but they may develop health problems after consuming large amounts of apples.

Do you want to learn about the deer apple relationship, how much apple is safe for deer, and when and how to feed apples to deer?

In this post, we answer all of the above questions and more.

Roe deer eating apples in the forsty morning of Uppland, sweden.
The ‘unicorn’ roebuck (Capreolus capreolus) likes apples on a frosty morning in Uppland, Sweden

Do deer like to eat apples?

The image answers the main question directly like how much deer like eating apples, how many apples can deer eat and image also answers that deer can get drunk after eating fermented apples.
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As earlier stated, apples are the equivalent of candy to deer, and you can’t blame them. Apples are sweet and juicy.

Hence, saying deer-like apples would be an understatement. Deers love apples; they find it difficult to resist them.

To give you a clear perspective, deer spend much of their time eating twigs, mushrooms, and other plants which are nutritious but not that tasty.

So when a deer comes across an apple, its taste buds go on overdrive.

Watch this video – it’s so cute:

Some of the other reasons why deer-like apples:

  • They can eat an apple whole
  • Apples don’t have thorns or a hairy exterior, making them an ideal meal.

Can deer smell apples and their plants?

Let us use the whitetail as an example as its one of the most famous deer species.

The whitetail deer’s nose has olfactory receptors numbering about 290 million. Humans have a paltry 4.8 million, and dogs have 220 million.

Olfactory receptors are the nerve cells responsible for transmitting scent messages from the nose to the brain.

Because of these receptors, you can know when food is burning or spot a stinking carcass.

You can see how powerful a deer’s smell is; some biologists argue that the sense of smell is a deer’s most potent weapon.

So yes, deer can smell apples and their plants from miles away. Their sense of smell guides them during harsh times when deer search for food.

No wonder you can wake up to find a deer herd feasting on your apple garden, and you can’t figure out how they knew it was there. The deer’s strong sense of smell led them to the apples.

How many apples can a deer eat in a day?

There isn’t an exact number of apples that a deer can eat daily. We can approximate this by looking at how much food a deer consumes daily. But, there are recorded cases, where enthusiasts have placed dozens of apples in the deer zone but, the deer just gaze at them and went away; he (or she, idk) may not be hungry and sometimes deer are hungry but they don’t feel like eating (just like us, lol).

Given that, deer can eat around 6 percent of their body weight in a day. This would translate to about 13 pounds for a deer weighing 150 pounds. Then apples can make up at least 1%(2 to 3 apples) of the 13 pounds.

If you have watched the above video from the point where it started, then you have noticed that a deer isn’t eating any apple, just smelling, touching from the mouth, and gone. But at 8:08, it ate half an apple and went away. A similar pattern shows by all the passersby; some munch 1/2, a few take a bit from 2-3 apples, though, none of them consume the whole.

This brings us to the conclusion that you should not try to force-feed them by putting 3 apples and expecting them to eat the whole; they won’t. And you should not try it too because their nature is to feed on mother earth’s bushes, leaves from a different tree, seasonal offspring of that region, and so on. It’s not at all healthy or advised to just give them apples to rely on; they would either get weak or prefer dying.

Instead, you can put the apples near other browses, so that deer can choose which to forage and how much to forage; as you may be surprised they have that intrinsic level of intelligence for choosing the needed food, and their choices seem to vary throughout the year as they eat for the survival (and what their body wants to eat) and don’t have any strict diet plan to follow.

We arrived at this percentage after considering that apples are only available in the wild during certain seasons. Hence, deer won’t come across them regularly.

However, during a food shortage, which mainly occurs during the winter and a deer comes across apples, it may consume more apples.

Can deer get drunk on fermented apples?

For a long time, the consensus was that deer or animals, in general, could not get drunk. However, this thought has quickly changed with the recent occurrences.

Firstly, Mr. Don Moore, a director at the Smithsonian Zoo located in Washington DC, stated that he saw the effect of fermented fruits on animals.

Mr. Moore gave an example of when he witnessed a deer munching on fermented apples in an orchard.

He noted that the deer became somewhat sleepy afterward and even stumbled a couple of times. Mr. Moore also added that ‘drunken’ deer are regular in apple-growing areas.

In 2011, numerous news outlets published a story of a mule deer that got stuck in an apple tree after eating fermented apples.

The animal rescue team had to cut down a tree section to free the mule. Once free, the mule walked off and fell asleep in a nearby bush.

Sweden police have also stated that they receive numerous calls from people saying that drunken elk are causing chaos during autumn.

They also added that their first advice to affected homeowners is to clear their backyards of all the fermented apples. Citing that doing so would immensely reduce the incidences.

So yes, deer can get drunk after taking plenty of fermented apples.

Can deer eat rotten apples?

Deer are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will eat anything within their reach.

Hence, when a deer comes across rotten apples, it will eat a few or many. 

The amount will depend mainly on the current food situation.

If there is plenty of food, the deer may only eat a measly amount, but during times of drought, it will have a feast.

Are there any apple species that are poisonous to deer?

Deer love apples, but does that mean that all apple species are suitable for deer?

There are over 7000 different apple species, most of which are edible. Nevertheless, scientists have classified the Manchineel apple (aka beach apple) as one of the most poisonous plants in the world.

Not only are the Manchineel apples poisonous, but also its tree leaves and even the bark.

Biologists document that ingesting a Manchineel apple will lead to an intensely painful feeling and severe stomach problems.

We can thus assume that manchineel apples are poisonous to deer.

Can deer drink apple juice, vinegar, etc.?

Deer will not easily come across apple juice or vinegar in the wild, but they would not mind an apple drink because they aren’t picky eaters.

Can deer eat applesauce?

Undoubtedly, deer-like apples, so to them, whether it’s in liquid, juice, or sauce form, they will eat.

What is the best time of year to feed apples to deer?

White tailed deer eating apples in the backyar
White-tailed deer in a backyard eating apples.

During winter, many plants dry out, and the deer don’t have much to eat; consequently, many die of starvation.

You can help by offering a deer herd near you a couple of apples, but remember to do so in moderation. To prevent the deer from becoming even more malnourished.

What happens when deer eat apples?

A deer’s stomach constitutes millions of enzymes that can easily break down anything the deer eats. For instance, a deer’s stomach can easily digest tree bark.

So when a deer eats an apple, it will go through the same process other foods encounter.

However, deer have a problem digesting apples. When a deer eats plenty of apples, its digestive system will not run properly.

Since the deer won’t be able to digest the apples, it may starve, or the apple may ferment in the stomach and cause a stomach upset.

How healthy is an apple for deer?

Apples offer plenty of nutrients to deer that we have indicated in the table below

200 grams of an apple contains:

Fiber5 grams
Carbohydrates27 grams
Vitamin C6 grams
Potassium20 grams
Copper8 grams
Vitamin K5 grams

How to feed apples to deer?

You can effectively feed apples to deer by slicing the apples into small pieces and placing them in a bowl.

Remember to feed apples to deer due to earlier stated reasons sparingly. Also, check whether the laws in your area allow or prohibit deer feeding.

And, don’t overfeed them; what I mean by that is apples alone can not give enough nutrients for this cute creature to flourish beautifully. For that reason, include other things in their diet as well like bananas, carrots, peanuts, soybeans, green beans, kidney beans, or even cereal grass but not hard things like walnuts.

And if possible, try to not interfere with their natural food cycle by feeding them unless deer are dying of starvation because deer are wild animals and they should depend on wildlife; their system is made like that. Thus, if you feed them regularly every time in one location then they will develop the habit of being dependent on you and not nature.

The point is to give them as many choices as you can. There’s no strategy, just place as many items in front of them (maintaining appropriate distance) and let them choose according to their current body requirements.

How to protect my apple plants from deer?

The most practical way to keep deer away from your apple plants is by putting up a strong fence.

A tall fence of at least eight feet will do the trick, and remember to check it for gaps constantly. If deer find an opening, then your apple garden will not survive.

Some other methods you can use include.

  • Setting up Motions sensing water sprinklers
  • Applying deer deterrent sprays

Apples vs carrots vs pears vs corns vs oranges: what would deer choose?

Apples, carrots, pears, corn, and oranges are some of the fruits that deer can’t resist.

Do deer like all these fruits in equal measure, or is there one they love the most among them?

Well, we can’t say for sure that a deer will choose maybe corn over an orange because the chances of deer having to choose are rare.

For example, If you have a garden and in it, you planted apples, carrots, pears, corn, and oranges, then it was invaded by deer. Chances are you will find all of the plants have encountered significant damage.

However, when you consider the cost of each of these plants, then corn will be the most pocket-friendly way to feed deer. IMO, you should put everything in front of the deer and let the deer choose what he/she wants to eat; maybe at that particular moment deer’s body will gravitate towards eating a bit of everything or they would just leave it all and eat bushes and fresh leaves.

As per I know, most of the deer will munch on apples and carrots, then they would eat some bites of pears as it is good for digestive health. Can’t say much about corn as it is not an ideal food to serve and can even lead to death.

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