Critters and strawberry plants

I planted 40 strawberry plants. This morning I saw that the leaves of about 10 plants were cut where the stem meets the roots. What critter did this? We have lots of squirrels, so I think they did it, but I may be wrong. Why would they just cut the leaves off? (By the way, they ate the few ripe strawberries.)

How can I prevent this from happening again? I do not want to kill or trap them because I know that squirrels in the areas adjacent to my property will just come and replace the squirrels I remove.

In my area i have never seen a squirrel even glance at my straw berries patch so my guess it is something else. Take that with a grain of salt, could be different in your garden.


I suspect bunnies.


I find it remarkable that folks take zero precautions to protect their plants and then are astonished when a critter, be it a sqirrel, rabbit, mouse, deer, or whatever, causes their new plants damage.

In the past month there have been at least 5 threads about critter damage started and everyone of them starts out the same way…

“I’m having this damage done, i took no precautions like fencing, my plants are destroyed, my investment is gone, what do I do?”

Fence of your plants people!!! Any barrier that you can put between your plants and the animals is going to help. Cheap welded wired fence works great for keeping larger animals like rabbits and deer from destroying my young apple trees.

Also, trapping and killing the squirrels or other rodents will actually really help, short term it gets rid of the immediate problem, and long term it reduces the competition for food sources due to lower overall numbers of offending vermin and less stress is put on the high value food, like your strawberry plants.

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Chicken wire fencing/cage will be your best bet, and against birds too. If your garden isn’t big enough to cushion your losses, you need to fence. I’ve lost 1/3 of the berries that have ripened on my one cane of fall gold raspberry.

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I net my strawberries when they’re bearing. Put hoops over the rows, drape the netting over the hoops and fasten at the bottom with clothespins.

I’d never have thought to do that to protect new plantings, tho.

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My friend has been trying to grow some things in his yard, and deer go right up to his house and his porch and ate all the seedlings and starters he put out. At least he o it had to deal with the deer, his neighbor a few houses down had fencing and bird feeders knocked over by a bear. I can’t imagine trying to put up enough protection from a bear…

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With all due respect, I have electric fence with 3-4 layers of wiring, but there are chipmunks (Baby sized ones) still coming and going. These animals will find ways to get what they want regardless of protection. Although the fence has disabled a few squirrels. There are always “somebody” doing something out there.

I’ve seen rabbits here eating leaves of all kinds. The birds eat my strawberries.

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Electric fence to stop rodents is not a good idea. Chipmunks and squirrels could easily just go between the wires. Ever seen a bird on an electric fence wire? Its not feeling the shock because its not grounding out. For electric fence to work, the animal needs to ground itself out in order to receive a shock.

Small critters such as chipmunks would best be deterred by chicken wire or wire mesh. They can go through electric fencing and welded wire fencing.

I used to stop bears from destroying my honey bee hives using electric fence, because it was the correct application of the correct fencing to do the job. Electric fencing to stop chipmunks is not.

Another vote for rabbits. They did exactly this sort of damage to some of my musk strawberries. We have an unprecedented (in my experience, anyway) population explosion this year, and they are attacking just about anything they can get at: peanuts, chard, sweet potato vines, etc.

NB: if you use barriers they need to be pretty tight.
Rabbits—especially young ones----can shimmy through small spaces. Fenced jujubes with wire garden fencing last year, and they went right through and ate bark.

I have more stuff than is practical to fence/cover, so have been trying repellents. Blood meal is supposed to help, but didnt stop them from munching peanuts. Same with a commercial rodent repellent.

As much as I dislike killing things, human predation may be necessary when they get out of hand like this.

Not much help for birds, but applying hot sauce on some plants help in some situations. Not great once you have fruit but for foliage and bark lol. I imagine you wouldn’t want to spray ghost pepper juice on most things that can’t be thoroughly washed or scrubbed lol

I have clematis vines that I can’t protect from the rabbits, even with cages of hardware cloth surrounding them, they somehow get thru and bite off the vines at the base.


I still get shocked when I see pics of people with plants just out in the open.

Mine would be obliterated in hours if I did that.

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I have a few layers out there, a mesh deep down to keep the groundhogs from digging, surrounded cinder blocks, then plastic fencing and my outside is wired. I also put the mouse traps around the gates/doors or openings, yet, still problems. Also, my property has a fence outside as well to keep the deers out…for birds, I use nettings, and spiky stakes, etc I still find eaten strawberries, blueberries…what I am trying to say is, it will always be a battle with wildlife, no matter how much protection I have.

If you have the space… plant more than you can eat yourself

But they don’t wait their turn!