Skip to Content

Do Deer Eat Carrots? (9 Things To Know)

As a farmer living in an area dominated by deer herds, you must understand the type of plants that these ferocious eaters love munching on.

By doing so, you can decide ways to protect your plants or even avoid growing such plants altogether to keep away the deer.

One of the most recently asked questions has been, do deer eat carrots? Can they smell carrots? Are there types of carrots that deer can’t eat?

Are you looking to get answers to these and other questions? Read on to learn more.

Do Deer Eat Carrots

Do deer eat Carrots and carrot plants?

Yes, deer eat carrots; in fact, that is an understatement. Deer loves eating carrots. To them, carrots are the perfect treats.

Deer not only eat carrots, but they also eat the whole plant, from the carrot tops, leaves, and roots.

In the wild, deer spend most of their time feeding on hardwood twigs, and you know that the twigs are not that tasty.

However, carrots offer a completely different feel to the deer, especially the garden-grown carrots.

The satisfying crackling, high water release coats the deer’s mouth and sweet flavor. All combine to make carrots a perfect treat for the deer.

Below are some more reasons that deer love eating carrots.

  • The whole carrot plant is edible
  • They can easily pull the carrots from the ground
  • A carrot’s color is attractive, whether yellow, red, orange, or purple. Deer love them all.
  • Carrots are easy to bite and chew

Read Also: Do Deer Like Cabbages?

Can deer smell carrots?

Deer have a highly developed sense of smell; an average deer species has a 1000 times better sense of smell than humans. We have a measly 5 million sense receptors compared to a deer’s 250 million.

Deer developed their sense of smell to search for food and know when predators are nearby.

So yes, deer can smell carrots; they can recognize a carrot’s scent from miles away. Why just carrots, with this power they can even find your tasty apples and peanut butter.

No wonder you may find that deer herds from outlying areas move to other places searching for food. It is their strong sense of smell that guides them.

This especially happens during the winter, when food is scarce, and deer have to go long distances to get a meal.

What species of deer love eating carrots?

There are many deer species in the world, forty-five to be exact.

Here is a list of some of the top and most common deer breeds globally.

  • White-tailed deer
  • Mule deer
  • Hog Deer
  • Caribou
  • Red Brocket
  • Northern Pudu
  • Black-tailed Deer
  • Fallow deer
  • Thorold’s deer
  • Sambar deer

All of the species named above of deer love eating carrots.

Scientists have yet to find a deer species that do not eat carrots.

Since deer tend to change their diet depending on the seasons, they sometimes eat anything, especially when experiencing hunger.

Read Also: Do Deer Like Pumpkins?

Types of carrots that deer cannot eat?

Yes, carrots have a sweet and juicy taste; however, not all carrot species share these characteristics.

There are types of carrots that deer cannot eat.

They include:

  • Poison Hemlock (Conium Maculatum)
  • Water hemlock(Conium Maculata)
  • Cow parsnip(Heracleum maximum)
  • Wild parsnip (Pastinaca Sativa)
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)

Let us have a close look at these carrots.

Poison Hemlock

It grows 4 to 9 inches tall has white flowers, and purple spotted waxy stems.

The poison hemlock, mostly found on the roadsides, produces a displeasing odor, and true to its name, the carrot causes stomach poisoning when ingested.

Water hemlock

Regarded as the most poisonous carrot species, the plant can grow up to six feet tall has round purple stems and white flowers.

All parts of the plant are toxic, especially the roots.

The rest of the inedible carrot species; Wild parsnip, giant hogweed, and Cow parsnip, may cause photodermatitis.

These plants produce allergens that cause rash and blisters. Hence, deer tend to avoid them.

Can baby deer eat carrots?

Baby deer can eat carrots though it is not encouraged. The reason is that their stomach and digestive systems haven’t developed to digest the carrots properly.

Fawns generally depend on their mother’s milk for up to 16 weeks after birth, 3 to four months.

They do so because they need the nutrients to grow, plus their stomachs easily absorb the milk into their system.

Consequently, wildlife experts are seriously against feeding carrots to baby deer.

Citing that even though carrots are tasty, they won’t provide the nutrients that a fawn desperately needs to survive.

Even so, occasionally providing a few carrots as treats when the fawn grows a bit older won’t be harmful.

How healthy is a carrot for deer?

You may have realized that deer require to feed on highly nutritious plants for proper body and antler growth.

So do carrots offer these nutrients? Let us find out.

Table showing the number of nutrients a deer obtains from 100 grams of carrot 


Nutrient
QuantityVitaminQuantityMineralsQuantity
Proteins2.9%A33%Magnesium3%
Calories41%B-66%Iron1%
Carbohydrate3%C9%Potassium10%
Dietary Fiber12%D0%Calcium3.5%

As you can see, 100 grams of carrot provide adequate vitamin A and C that boosts deer bone formation and antler development.

How easy or hard is it for deer to digest a carrot?

Like other wild animals, deers have developed adaptations to survive. One of such adaptations is a strong stomach.

Hence, their stomachs can easily digest carrots with little trouble, which is handy during hunger.

What is the best time to feed carrots to deer?

Deer don’t pay much attention to carrots between spring and summer mainly because they have many other options of food to eat.

Nevertheless, carrots start attracting deer at the start of frost (October – May).

Then when winter settles in, deer will ferociously feed on the top and roots of the carrot.

During that time, food is exceedingly scarce. Thus, the best time to feed deer would be during winter.

Read Also: Do Deer Like Bananas?

How to properly feed carrots to deer?

Deer can eat raw, cooked, and even meal carrots. So feel free to feed them any of the mentioned; they are not fussy.

However, experts recommend feeding deer not more than 100grams of carrots per serving, which should not be regularly. You should also chop the carrots into sizeable pieces.

Shake down

You see, carrots act as supplements to deer, even though they have some nutritional benefits. They won’t provide the adequate deer nutrients to build fat reserves and replenish energy lost.

In addition, it isn’t advisable to feed deer processed or canned carrots as they may lead them to develop stomach problems.

A fundamental rule in feeding carrots to deer, whether raw, cooked or meal, is to do so with moderation.

Read Also: Do Deer Like Walnuts?