There are a number of
animals that will chew on the bark of trees and
shrubs. Normally, bark is not a preferred food
source but during a long, cold and snowy winter many
critters will resort to bark when everything else is
gone or covered up.
In the home
landscape, bark damage may be caused by the
Deer - Normally,
these beautiful landscape pests prefer to nibble
on hostas, leaves and tender shoots of our
plants. As mentioned before, in a tough winter,
they may have to move down their preferred food
list and chew on bark. When they feed, they will
pull and twist leaving ragged patches of bark.
Also, during the rutting i.e. mating season,
bucks will rub their antlers against trees which
can cause a lot of damage to tree trunks.
Rabbits - Like
deer, rabbits would prefer nice, lush green
foliage or tender stems. However, in the winter,
they too will resort to chewing on the bark of
trees and shrubs. Since they are short, their
damage will be limited to the bottom foot to 18
inches of the plant...unless they have mounds of
snow to stand on. When they chew, they generally
leave a distinctive impression of their two
rodent front teeth.
Field Mice or Meadow Voles
- In a heavy winter with cold, snowy weather,
these critters can do a lot of damage.
Generally, they will tunnel through mulch
beneath the snow and start chewing on the bark
at ground level. If they damage enough of the
bark around the circumference of the tree, they
can girdle it resulting in death of the plant.
You might see tiny scratches on the wood which
is exposed when the bark is gone.
Sometimes in the early spring, you will find
small strips of bark all over the ground beneath
a tree. Often this is due to squirrels stripping
off the bark in order to get at the sweet sap