juinbug
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:02 pm
Location: new mexico

What animal could be eating my tomatoes?

My tomatoes are finally starting to change color and ripen. Problem is is that of the three that have ripened two have been bitten into by something. Not an insect because the bite is quite large, ~2x1inches. I have my garden netted to keep out the birds that were after other fruit, but nothing ever went after my tomatoes. But now that they've started to ripen something is eating them. I redid the netting so that it better protected the tomato side, but still last night something bit into another tomato.

While I have seen a rabbit in the neighborhood, it's on the other end of the block. So what could it be, I don't know of other rodents in the neighborhood, there are a couple of cats that roam. And we have had snakes.

User avatar
SP8
Green Thumb
Posts: 317
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 3:29 am
Location: Nagoya: Japan

Re: What animal could be eating my tomatoes?

juinbug wrote:My tomatoes are finally starting to change color and ripen. Problem is is that of the three that have ripened two have been bitten into by something. Not an insect because the bite is quite large, ~2x1inches. I have my garden netted to keep out the birds that were after other fruit, but nothing ever went after my tomatoes. But now that they've started to ripen something is eating them. I redid the netting so that it better protected the tomato side, but still last night something bit into another tomato.

While I have seen a rabbit in the neighborhood, it's on the other end of the block. So what could it be, I don't know of other rodents in the neighborhood, there are a couple of cats that roam. And we have had snakes.
Snakes eat rats and mice :wink:

User avatar
Kisal
Mod Emeritus
Posts: 7648
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

If the netting isn't pinned firmly to the ground, then raccoons and opossums are the likely culprits, especially if you aren't out in a rural area.

Damage to tomatoes by snails and/or slugs can also appear as if something has taken a bite out of the fruit. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

critters eating tomatoes

If the netting isn't tightly secured at the bottom AND OVER THE TOP raccoons will get them. And maybe even if they are secured, raccoons being wily creatures. I thought I had mine well caged in and still the raccoons managed to climb the netting and get some.

Possums, groundhogs, squirrels, birds will all attack your tomatoes. Not snakes.

eshenry
Senior Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 1:36 pm
Location: Tennessee

birds bite on mine...and I once saw a turtle sticking his head up and chomping on the bottom of the lower hanging fruit! :lol:
Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.

juinbug
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:02 pm
Location: new mexico

I think the netting not being secured is definitely the problem. I restaked it after the first tomato was bitten, but the side of my garden was still only loosley secured with rocks, not stakes. I have a few that are turning color now, I hope that the restaking works, if not, then I will have to secure the side that only has heavy rocks. I originally netted for the the watermelons and strawberries that were being eaten and left the tomato side loosely covered because they were not being attacked, but now the whole garden is covered.

TZ -OH6
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

Rodents (mice and chipmunks) are the usual cuplrits around here. A ground squirrel, rat, gopher could leave a crater in a fruit the size you describe. Racoon-opossum mouths are shaped differently (like a dogs) and would tear up a fruit with a bite. They also tend to roam around alot more and can find enough water so that they don't need the tomatoes for that like the rodents do.

User avatar
Diane
Green Thumb
Posts: 511
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:38 am
Location: Mass

How do the leaves look? A hornworm can take large bites out of tomatoes.
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

https://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87 ... G00047.jpg

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4806
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

I have seen a turtle eat the whole half of a large tomato. If the tomatoe that was eaten was low to the ground, within 10" it could have been a turtle. Turtles can climb up with their front legs and stand up on their back legs to reach high places.

It could have been a possum too.

If you examine the eaten place on the tomatoe you can sometimes tell what ate it. Turtles do not leave teeth marks. Possums have 100s of tiny teeth it leaves the tomato skin near the bits with tiny little cut marks that like razor blade cuts.

Deer will leave foot prints in the soil and so will other animals. Keep your soil loose on the surface so the small animals can make foot prints then it will be easy to determine what is eating the tomatoes.

juinbug
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:02 pm
Location: new mexico

The leaves look fine, green, no holes, nothing on the undersides, so I don't think it's a hornworm. I did tighten up the netting yesterday. Unfortunately, whatever it is still got to the 2 tomatoes that were starting to ripen. The good thing is that it had a harder time reaching the tomatoes, the bites were smaller, but instead of biting only one, it bit two. So I'm guessing whatever it is is now pressing on the netting to get to the tomatoes. There are definite teeth marks, its jagged along the edges.

My next step will be to tighten the netting as much as possible, and also picking the tomatoes sooner. I was trying to wait until they were riper, but now I will pick them and let them ripen indoors. How early can I pick them? As soon as they start to change color?

Ricky
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:08 am
Location: Yorktown, Virgina

turtles love tomatoes, they leave triangler bites or eat the whole bottom off, they reach higher than you would think

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”