I checked how my young pear tree is leafing out, and noticed that every little twig was missing maybe an inch or more off its tip. Squirrel? Only thing I can think of that could reach. We don’t have deer here. I knew the squirrels would go after the fruit, but I didn’t know they ate branches too.
I bet a rodent of some kind. I think they feed on buds in early spring.
How tall is your tree off the ground and how strong is the trunk of the tree?
I suspect a groundhog as it can stand on two hind legs and it can climb. But like Derby said, it can be other rodents.
It’s only about 8 feet tall, and even the highest branch has been trimmed. A lower branch was broken off and lying on the ground, partially eaten.
8 ft is about the height of many of my trees :). It looks like the trunk would be sturdy enough for those rodents to climb up to eat young shoots.
Some people use those night cameras to catch the culprit.
I’ve had rabbits do that to my almonds - that is, get up on their hind legs and pull branches down and break them.
Sounds like deer to me. If you don’t have a camera put out something that will show tracks. Something like bare fine soil or mud. Whatever it is will leave tracks.
I agree, my guess is you have deer. They have been extending deeper and deeper into suburban and even urban areas every year recently. We used to have none when I moved to my current location 20 years ago, now we have packs of them.
Look around the ground, if not real hard, you should see tracks.
I’m very familiar with deer, as I moved here from Ithaca, NY, but I haven’t seen any evidence of them here in this suburb of Atlanta. No tracks, no droppings. I’m assuming it’s some sort of rodent that climbed up there. At least it left most of the tree, which the deer I’m used to wouldn’t have done.
Do I need to do something to prevent them from eating the rest of the tree, or is this likely just an occasional thing that won’t harm the tree much?
Something also nibbled a little bit of bark off my aronia, but not much. This was low on the branches, not the tips, so it may have been a different creature.
Can you post a photo of the damage? Sometimes it can reveal something about the culprit.
Do you have a game camera?
You can also bait a rat trap or mouse trap to see what happens. Most find peanut butter an effective bait. If your bait is gone and the trap is not sprung you have something smaller. If your trap is gone, you have something bigger.
I am also in Atlanta and I have seen deer in my back yard which is fenced in .
I retract my rodents theory, when I have rodents cutting branches they usually cut smaller branches and you can see the clean cuts their little teeth make.