Why Are Succulents a Tasty Treat for Birds and Other Wildlife?

Succulents are used by animals as a source of moisture and nutrients. Succulents store water in their leaves, stems and roots, providing sustenance in times of drought. This can keep smaller animals alive in dry environments.
A rabbit eating succulent.

Do you have a collection of beautiful succulents in your home? Do you often find them eaten or bitten but have no idea why? If so, you’re not alone! Many succulent owners have experienced this issue. Well, the truth is that you may be dealing with a bigger problem than pests and bugs. Birds or other animals may be eating your succulents, and you must find a way to stop them as quickly as possible.

So, why do birds and other animals eat succulents? Although the diet of most birds and other animals doesn’t include succulents, these creatures will only have one other option if their usual food and water sources are scarce. They will turn to your succulents because they love succulent’s tasty and nutritious juice. Birds and other animals may also eat succulents because they are curious or want to bury the seeds in the soil. Remember that most succulent plants store plenty of water which can attract birds and other animals when their usual sources are depleted.

This blog post discusses why dogs, birds, snails, mice, squirrels, and other animals eat succulents and what you can do to stop them. Read on to learn more.

How Do I Know If Birds Are Eating My Succulents?

To determine if birds or other animals are eating your succulents, carefully inspect the soil around the pot.

If you see bird poop around it, it could mean birds are eating your plants. Birds’ poop is typically small and round.

You might also see solidified urine as small, white excrement. Birds only focus on eating the leaves of succulents.

Therefore, you will most likely see small holes in your plant leaves if birds attack them. Huge holes may be a sign of large animals feeding on your plants.

A bird eating a dragon fruit.
Birds only focus on eating the leaves of succulents.

Large animals that feed on succulents include mice, voles, squirrels, possums, and other rodents. Sometimes, even cats and dogs eat succulents but stop after tasting them. Ensure your succulents are non-toxic if they are within reach of your pets and children.

Tiny bugs, such as slugs and snails, can also eat succulents and cause extensive damage if you don’t stop them.

But don’t think that only birds and other animals feed on succulents. Tiny pests may also eat your succulents or suck juices out.

An excellent example of pests that eat succulents is aphids. These bugs are often yellow, black, or green and can cause much damage if left unchecked.

Other pests that feed on succulents include mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects, mites, and caterpillars.

Always inspect your succulents and their roots for signs of bug infestation, discoloration, and pest/bug infestation.

Consider using natural solutions such as neem oil to eliminate the bugs if your succulents are infested.

Why Do Birds and Other Animals Eat Succulents?

The truth is that the diet of most bird species doesn’t include succulents. However, things can change pretty fast if these creatures can no longer access their water and food sources due to scarcity.

Succulents such as echeverias and aloes contain delicious and highly nutritious water that attracts pests, birds, bugs, and other animals. These provide the birds and animals with what they require regarding water and nutrients when their natural resources have been depleted.

Some succulents, such as agaves, are naturally delicious; many birds know it. So, they will irresistibly feast on the succulent because it is almost like a dessert.

A camel eating desert cactus.
These provide the birds and animals with what they require regarding water and nutrients when their natural resources have been depleted.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave your succulent in the best condition when they are done with the pecking. Birds can also invade your succulent pots if they want somewhere to build nests.

In such a case, you will notice that your succulent has been invaded and some of it eaten as the birds build their nests.

Most animals eat succulents because they store water. Common animals that eat succulents include woodrats, gophers, jackrabbits, and many more.

Most animals usually target the softer parts of the succulent. For cacti, they try as much as possible to avoid spiny areas.

However, alpacas and camels can eat even the spiniest without any problems. This is because camels usually have a rough lining in their mouth that protects them from the spiny thorns.

How Do I Stop Birds and Other Animals from Eating My Succulents?

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to stop birds and other animals from eating your succulents. Here are some of them:

1. Feed the Birds

Birds will only consider feeding on succulents when hungry or thirsty and don’t have any other source of food/water.

Therefore, you can quickly stop them from feeding on your succulents by setting up water baths and open feeders. Be sure to position the feeders and water baths away from your succulents.

Once the birds have had enough water and food, they won’t bother eating your succulents. To make things less messy, avoid putting mixed seeds in all your feeders.

Keep in mind that different bird species like different types of seeds. If you mix the seeds, birds will most likely spend time picking through the seeds to find the ones they like while discarding the rest on the floor.

The sorting process can be pretty messy and even attract unwanted pests. The best way to deal with the issue is to set up different feeders and put only one type of seed in each.

This makes it easy for the birds to find the feeder with their favorite seed types. When birds have access to the feeders, they won’t be bothered looking for food anywhere else.

2. Install Bird Netting

Another way to stop birds from eating your succulents is by installing bird netting or barriers around the pots and plants.

You can also use various deterrents, such as motion-activated sprinklers, owl decoys, and reflective tape.

These methods are simple. For instance, you can easily keep birds away from your succulents by hanging old CDs near the plants or pots. The reflection of the sunlight on these CDs will scare away most birds.

Bird on the net.
Another way to stop birds from eating your succulents is by installing bird netting.

Netting can also be used to protect vegetable gardens from birds. It is an excellent way to keep them away from your succulents while allowing access to other beneficial insects and wildlife.

3. Grow Succulent Species That Repel Animals

You can also deter rabbits, gophers, and wood rats by planting succulents with a strong, unpleasant smell.

These succulents usually produce a chemical referred to as terpenoid, which repels animals and insects. Examples of such succulents include Echeveria setosa and Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga.

You can also plant other species near your succulents with strong scents known to repel animals. Examples of such plants include rosemary, oregano, and lavender.

4. Scare Birds Away from Your Succulents

Scarecrows are still an effective way to scare away birds and other animals. You can easily make a homemade scarecrow or buy one from a garden center.

A owl as a scarecrow.
You can consider placing such objects near your succulents to scare birds away.

When positioned near your succulents, the scarecrow will frighten away birds and other animals, such as gophers and woodrats, that might be tempted to feed on the plants.

However, you will be required to move the scarecrow around because the same birds and animals coming to your succulent garden over and over will begin to recognize it as a harmless dummy.

Most birds and animals also fear objects that shimmer in the light, such as reflective tape, pieces of foil, broken mirrors, or CDs. You can consider placing such objects near your succulents to scare birds away.

What If Nothing Seems to Work?

Sometimes, you may try everything possible to keep birds away from your succulents, but nothing seems to work.

In such a case, you can consider covering the pots and plants with netting or using cloches (clear plastic covers) to protect them from birds.

These protective measures are effective in keeping birds away without damaging or affecting the growth of your plants.

You can also consider keeping your succulents indoors or in a greenhouse to reduce the risk of birds feeding on them.

Bonsai tree in the windowsill exposed to sunlight.
You can also consider keeping your succulents indoors.

Also, ensure you see the birds eating your succulents before you conclude that they are culprits. This is because you could be dealing with other issues, such as pests and insect infestation thinking it’s birds.

It is vital to correctly identify the problem before you take any measures to prevent it. If birds are the main issue, follow the tips outlined above to keep them away.

Summary

It is possible to stop birds and other animals from eating your succulents. All you need to do is set up water baths and open feeders, install bird netting and barriers, grow succulent species that repel animals, scare birds away using a homemade scarecrow or reflective objects, and cover the pots with netting.

If you take all these steps, your succulents should be safe from birds and other animals. However, if nothing else works better, consider covering them with netting or keeping them indoors.

With proper management and protection, you can enjoy your succulents for many years without worrying about the issue of birds or animals.

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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