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Do Deer Eat Bamboo? (Tables + 7 Must-Know Things)

Deer can eat bamboo though it is not a plant they love. Often deer will not touch the bamboo if other plants are available.

Are you planning to grow bamboo and live in an area where deer are present?

In this article, you will learn about the types of bamboo a deer can or won’t eat. You will also learn the parts of bamboo a deer will eat and much more.

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Faqs-related deer and bamboo feeding | You can use this image anywhere by just providing attribution to this page.

What parts of bamboo can deer eat?

Generally, deer aren’t picky eaters; anything within reach goes to them. However, they too have favorite plants and consequently plant parts.

Deer can eat the leaves, roots, and culm of bamboo. 

Even so, they like the bamboo leaves compared to the other plant parts. The reason being the shoots are juicier and easier to digest. This instance also shows in Ranunculus, which is a thorny plant thus deer prefer eating juicy stems.

Is heavenly bamboo deer resistant?

Heavenly bamboo, scientific name Nandina Domestica. Nandina is a good-looking plant that will stay green throughout the year, uses little water, and is easy to manage.

The plant grows vibrant green stalks with elegant foliage, and during springtime, it produces creamy white flowers. No wonder some people call it the sacred bamboo.

Some of the common heavenly bamboo varieties include

  •  Nandina Blush
  •  Harbour Dwarf Nandina
  •  Nandina flirt
  •  Nandina Gulfstream
  •  Nandina Obsession
  •  Nandina filamentosa
  •  Compact nandina

In addition, sacred bamboo has been a favorite garden plant for a long time due to its aesthetic appeal.

You may be thinking that deer must love heavenly bamboo with all that praise. You’re mistaken; they don’t.

Yes, deer will eat heavenly bamboo but under rare circumstances. Nandina Domestica releases toxins, and it has a strong scent.

Deer don’t like plants that produce toxins or are hairy and dense, all of which are features of heavenly bamboo.

Nevertheless, biologists have stated that deer living in areas that have plenty of bamboo vegetation will, over time, develop a taste for it.

This means that your heavenly bamboo is not completely safe.

No need to despair. You can employ tips to lower or completely prevent deer from munching on your plant:

  • Applying chemical repellants
  • Fencing
  • Motion sensing sprinkler systems

What species of bamboo can deer eat?

Deer standing neer bamboo tree - do they eat bamboos?
A deer is standing near bamboo trees

Earlier on, we learned that deer can eat bamboo. Below, you will look at the bamboo species a deer will eat and others that could be poisonous.

Bamboo varieties that deer can eat

SpeciesCommon Name
Bambusa balcooaFemale bamboo
Bambusa beecheyanaBeechey bamboo
Bambusa polymorphaBurmese bamboo
Bambusa tuldaBengal Bamboo
Thyrostacis siamensisMonstery bamboo
Sasa KurelensisChishima zasa
Phyllotaschys rubromarginataRed margin bamboo
Phyllostachys nudaNude sheath bamboo
Phyllostachys decoraBeautiful bamboo
Phyllostachys edulisMoso bamboo
Guadua sarcocarpaFleshy fruit guadua
Fargesia robustaUmbrella bamboo
Gigantochloa atterGiant Atter
Chimonocalamus delicatusAromatic bamboo
Chimonobambusa tumidissinodaWalking stick bamboo
Fargesia robustaUmbrella bamboo
Gigatochloa levisSmooth shoot gigatochloa

Bamboo varieties that a deer can’t eat

SpeciesCommon Name
Bambusa BlumeanaThorny bamboo
Guadua AngustifoliaColombian giant thorny
Phyllostachys aureaGolden bamboo
Phyllostachys aureasulcataYellow groove bamboo
Phyllostachys bissetiiBissetii
Phyllostachys nigraBlack bamboo
Phyllostachys rubromarginataRed margin

Please note that these lists are not comprehensive. Scientists are still conducting research.

Considering there are more than twelve hundred species of bamboo, there will be some changes on the respective lists.

Can baby deer eat bamboo?

For the first three to four months of their lives, fawns rely one hundred percent on their mother’s milk for survival.

Then, later on, they slowly graduate to eating plant twigs, leaves, and grasses. During this time, the baby deer will eat what its mother is eating.

However, like all babies, fawns are curious, so they can and will eat bamboo.

Considering a fawn’s teeth and digestive system aren’t fully developed, they will eat more of the softer parts of the bamboo.

Can all deer species eat bamboo?

Scientists are yet to compile a list of deer species that eat bamboo and those that do not.

Nevertheless, there are records of deer species that biologists have spotted and documented eating bamboo and some that they have not.

Deer species were spotted eating bamboo.

  • Roe deer
  • Reindeer
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Tufted deer
  • Indian Muntjac
  • Water deer
  • Sambar deer
  • Barasingha deer
  • Taruca

Deer species biologists are yet to record eating bamboo

  • Marsh deer
  • Pudu
  • Sika deer
  • Red deer

What if deer eat bamboo?

Deer can comfortably eat bamboo, except for the poisonous bamboo species, which may lead to stomach problems.

Bamboo, especially the shoots, provides a wide range of nutrients for example

NutrientQuantity per 100g
Amino Acids2.005
Proteins4.04
Carbohydrates2.30
Fats0.250
Potassium400mg

As a form of adaptation to the hard environment that deer live in, they have developed hardy stomachs.

Deer’s tough stomachs are one of the primary reasons they can survive through tough winters.

When you add the nutritional benefits that bamboo provides, you can see that their stomachs will easily digest it.

Related: Do Deer Eat Soybeans?

Does clamping bamboo need a barrier?

Clumping bamboo doesn’t require much managing since they are predominantly self-containing.

The reason is that clumping bamboo constitutes a miniature structure that makes it hard for the plant to extend more than a few inches.

Over time, the plant produces clumps that will grow while new ones emerge. These emerging clumps will need from 1.5 to 10 feet to grow fully.

However, clamping bamboo may spread in some rare instances, and when it does, it grows rapidly.

Because of this, experts discourage planting clamping bamboo close to important structures like a driveway or a house.

When you notice that the clamping bamboo has started spreading, you must place a barrier.

A barrier is a product you can use during bamboo planting to avert the root rhizomes from spreading and damaging property.

To contain the clumping bamboo rhizomes, the barrier works as a blockade. Thus the roots won’t leave the designated area.

There are many bamboo barriers, but the plastic barrier is most commonly used.

To ensure your barrier works as intended then, you will need to

  • Use a barrier with good thickness, at least 60 millimeters thick
  • Place the barrier about 24 inches deep in the ground

Even if your clumping bamboo isn’t over-spreading, it is always good to pay close attention to any changes.

Once you notice the slightest form of invasion, you need to take action immediately before it is too late.