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Do Deer Eat Holly? (All You Need to Know)

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Deer are herbivores creatures that live primarily upon consuming grasses, sedges, crops, leaves and fruits.

They usually prefer sweet tastes and gentle smells but dislike bitter tastes and strong scents. They mostly nibble and try all kinds of leaves but sharp, spiny or spiky leaves discourage them from eating.

Do deer eat holly?

Usually, deer don’t like hollies to eat. Hollies carry a strong fragrant that deer find unpleasant and depart. Also, it has a fuzzy-wooly texture that deer find hard to chew and digest. However, if they don’t have other options to eat, they may eat hollies but it can be harmful for their health.

Deer do not eat hollies. Because of its toxicity and intricate prickly tips, which are difficult for deer to ingest, as well as the fuzzy texture of its leaves and unpleasant odors, deer avoid holly bushes.

Deer are grazers with a prickly nose and a large number of taste buds, so anything that smells or tastes strongly is avoided, and holly is one of them. Furthermore, some holly plant varieties contain saponin and theobromine, which is harmful to deer. 

Holly bushes:

Deer avoid evergreen shrubs with spiky leaves, such as holly bushes. Holly bushes have a powerful aroma that makes deer feel uneasy, so they depart.

Deer also avoid plants that have made them sick, such as holly bushes, which contain a toxic ingredient that makes them sick; therefore, deer avoid them. 

American holly:

American holly is a type of holly that is particularly disliked by deer. Instead, it has a deer-repellent quality that keeps deer at bay. They dislike it because of its prickliness and unpleasant odor. 

Japanese holly:

Another variety that deer dislike is Japanese holly, which is a deer-resistant plant. Deer avoid them because they contain saponins, a poisonous element that causes poisoning in deer.  

Winterberry Holly:

Deer dislike winterberry because it contains theobromine, which causes them to vomit and cause stomach distress. 

Yaupon holly:

deer are not attracted to this cultivar. Deer dislike the rough, hairy leaves, and they dislike any plant that has a bitter taste, which yaupon holly does. 

Soft  touch holly:

Another deer-resistant holly variation is the evergreen tiny variety of shrubs known as soft touch holly. However, because they have a delicate texture, some deer prefer them while others avoid them due to the powerful aroma. 

Do holly trees attract deer? 

Holly plants are not attractive to deer. Deer are not attracted to evergreen bushes with sharp edges, such as holly plants and their variations. Deer are usually attracted to plants with a sweet, gentle fragrance, but holly shrubs have a pungent scent that they dislike.

Also, the smell affects deer’s ability to find food and other mates, as the strong odor of holly leaves diverts their attention away from their movement, preventing deer from being attracted. 

Deer also avoid plants with a bitter flavor, such as holly foliage and leaves, which are unappealing to them. Deer also absolutely detest the spiny pointy leaves, which are evergreen and have sharp edges, and deer are easily distracted merely by gazing at them.

The poisonous effects it generates also deter deer from approaching the plants. Also, because the velvety textured leaves of holly are not appealing to deer, they are not attracted to them.

Do deer eat holly leaves? 

Holly leaves are not eaten by deer. Saponins and theobromine are toxic chemicals found in some holly species that cause diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness in deer and other animals.

These also harm the liver and kidneys, slowing their metabolism and putting their lives in danger. They also avoid it because the leaves’ stiff, pointed spines tend to irritate their throats and oral mucosa. 

The texture and fragrance of holly leaves annoy deer quickly. When deer consume them, it induces gestational indigestion, which causes stomach upset. They are creatures of habit, after all.

They will not return in search of any dangerous or unpleasant food once they have discovered it. Deer usually avoid eating the leaves because of their potentially harmful consequences due to the presence of unwanted elements in the leaves and their spiny edges.

Despite their toxicity, the flavor of holly leaves is another reason why deer avoid them. 

Are hollies deer-resistant? 

Hollies are normally regarded as deer-resistant. If you have hollies in your yard and deer enter, they normally eat other plants, berries or flowers and avoid hollies. Deer mostly avoid shrubs as they find it hard to chew and digest.

Among hollies Morris, American hollies and Yaupon hollies mostly work effectively as deer-resistant as they grow tall and have spines that they don’t find pleasant to eat.

Moreover, hollies carry a strong, poisonous fragrance because of the chemical compounds saponins and theobromine which they highly dislike. These chemicals are also very harmful for their health.

If they are starved or don’t find their desirable foods and eat a large number of hollies, they may fall into stomach diseases and other fatal diseases.

But it’s a rare case. The spines, sharp edges, pointy leaves all together work as a deer deterrent plant as they usually dislike this kind of plant. 

When do deer eat holly? 

Typically, if deer have other sources of food or if they enter your garden and find other plants, fruits or berries and flowers, they’ll definitely avoid hollies. Though it’s not usual, if they don’t find other sources of food, they may take hollies to live.

In winter, there’s scarcity of food for wild animals; same goes for deer for getting their desirable food. This is the time when they’re bound to take hollies though they find it hard to eat. 

Actually, deer don’t like hollies at all as their food. They are normally attracted to sweet smells and the plants that they can easily chew.

On the other side, hollies carry a chemical and poisonous pungent that is highly disliked by deer.

Hollies are one kind of shrubs having prickly leaves and uneven texture. The holly bushes are fuzzy and wooly type and have sharp pointy ends that makes it dislike to deer to consume it. 

How do I keep deer from eating my hollies? 

Here are some ideas that can effectively keep deer from eating hollies: 

Create a border or build a fence:

Make a border around your ward by using thick hedges as they’ll be unable to see your garden through the hedges.

Or you can secure your whole garden by building up a fence or just the place where hollies have grown. But the height has to be minimum 8 feet tall as deer can jump high. 

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Use deer-deterrent remedies:

Make deer deterrent spray, grinding spices or using hot sauces with water and spray them on the top of the leaves and tree bark.

Another great trick is to spray the leaves and flowers with a motion-activated sprinkler. Human hair or other human accessories, dried blood meal, smell of chicken eggs also work well. 

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Try fragranced Irish soap:

Irish Spring soap bar works well for repelling deer as the soap has a strong scent. Shave the soap with a grater and place some parts of the soap per 3 meters of your hollies garden. 

Make your garden rocky or add levels:

Deer highly dislike rocky or rough places. Use different shaped and sized rocks around the hollies or add levels by adding stacked chopped wood, sunken beds, terraces as deer are much afraid of jumping or climbing. 

Plant deer deterrent trees:

Deer don’t like the plants that have acute fragrant or that have spines or thorns. Garlic, chives, rosemary, lavender, roses, cactus works pretty well as deer-deterrent. Plant these trees around hollies so that deer can’t reach there. 

What animal eats holly bushes? 

If deer find difficulties searching for their food, they may eat holly berries or a little bit of holly bushes.

But it’s not their regular habit. If deer eat hollies, you can determine by observing their eating patterns and tracks as they normally start eating from the top and the track is heart shaped with a cylindrical hole imprint.

Besides deer, cattle are often served hollies on farms in winter and it’s also good for pregnant ones.

Moreover, about 18 species of birds eat hollies and they mostly like the berries. There are also some insects and pests that also like to chew holly leaves and bushes, make shelter and even lay their eggs in it. So here are list of animals who can eat hollies from your yard besides deer: 

  • Cow
  • Goat
  • Sheep
  • Birds
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Weevils
  • Mites
  • Scale
  • Leaf miners etc.

Final Thoughts 

Deer have a keen sense of smell and they find the smell poisonous. Moreover, the sharp, spiky ends of the leaves and the uneven, fuzzy texture made it a deer-resistant plant. In fact, it’s toxic for their health and they may fall into acute diseases. So, it’s better to keep them away from hollies.

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