Tree Damage Caused by Animals

animal damage

Have you noticed the squirrels lately?  They are busy at this time of year.  Even with their nuts all stored away for the winter, they are still madly scurrying up and down the trees and dashing around on the ground. Many animals, like squirrels, live, play, and work among the trees.  They often depend on trees for food and shelter.  Some animals, however, take a little too much from trees and can even inflict damage.  Any animal has the potential to damage trees, especially those trees that are young, weak, or diseased.  After all, a tree isn’t really able to defend itself.  Following are some examples of common animal damage to trees.

The Growing Impact of Deer

Deer typically live in more rural areas, but the sprawl of the suburbs has resulted in an increasing incidence of deer in more populated neighborhoods.  These large animals have the potential to damage trees in two main ways.  First of all, deer can damage trees by rubbing their antlers against the trees.  This can be especially harmful to smaller trees, which may not survive extensive damage to a tree’s bark.  In addition, deer may also feed on leaves or leafless branches when food is scarce.  Since deer have quite an appetite, continued deer munching can weaken a tree.

Big Damage by Small Animals

Rodents (like mice, moles, and voles) and rabbits are much smaller than deer, but they can do big damage too.  These animals do their damage at the base of the tree trunk or even below the soil.  They will chew the roots and bark of the tree, usually no higher than 2 feet up the trunk.  Since these animals are small and the injuries they inflict are near the ground (or even below ground), you may not notice their work until the harm is done.  When the tree sustains too much damage to the outer bark and interior tissue, the tree will gradually weaken and die.  Squirrels can also do some damage to trees by snipping twigs or chewing or stripping bark.  This type of damage leads to limb failure because the weakened branches can no longer support the excessive weight of the foliage.  It also makes trees more susceptible to wind damage.

The Danger of Boring Birds

A final group of animals that can have an adverse effect on trees is birds such as sapsuckers and woodpeckers.  Both of these birds bore multiple holes in trees as they search for food from inside the tree.  Sapsuckers, as the name implies, are seeking sap while woodpeckers are typically looking for insects.  Woodpeckers are usually not much of a threat to the health of a tree.  The insects they seek are often found in wood that is already dead.  On the other hand, sap is found in healthy tree tissue and is needed for continuing tree health.  For this reason, sapsuckers can often do substantial harm to trees.

Animals can quickly weaken a healthy tree.  Keep your eyes open for both the animal and the damage they may be causing.  Ping’s Tree Service can help you treat damaged trees and restore them to good health.  Give us a call at 317-298-8482 to address the problem swiftly and completely.