What Eats Trees?

Knowing what predators consume trees is crucial, whether you are managing livestock or safeguarding your beautiful orchard or vineyard. In this article, we will explore the diverse range of prey, including insects, birds, and mammals that feed on different parts of trees such as bark, wood, leaves, roots, and shoots. Additionally, we will also discuss how various domesticated animals and pests can cause damage to trees.

Why Do Some Animals Eat Trees?

Upon reflection, trees can be quite delectable – not only for wildlife or bugs but also for humans! Trees can yield nuts and seeds, fruits and flowers, berries, and even syrup that people relish.

Trees offer a nutritious source of food for animals. Although the outer bark layer is tough and not easily edible, the softer cambium layer underneath is loaded with moisture and nutrients. Additionally, trees can attract larger predators by providing a variety of small insects and animals as prey.

What Eats Trees?

Predators that consume trees vary in their physical characteristics and can have feathers, fur, scales, and other features. These prey have specialized digestive systems to extract nutrients from tree components.

  • Birds
  • Beavers
  • Boar
  • Deer
  • Gophers
  • Mice
  • Porcupines
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Squirrels
  • Voles

What Small Wildlife Eats Trees?

Trees are frequently consumed by various small animals in their natural habitat.


Several animals, including woodpeckers and sapsuckers, consume parts of trees. Woodpeckers utilize their strong beaks to penetrate the bark and obtain delicious insects, while sapsuckers have a similar approach but aim for the sugary sap. Subsequently, hummingbirds visit these holes created by sapsuckers to feed.


Animals such as beavers heavily depend on trees for various purposes, including food, shelter, and protection, and can cause significant damage to hundreds of them within a year.


Animals such as boars, also known as feral pigs or hogs, have a preference for consuming the tender roots of trees, along with the nuts and seeds that they bear. These robust creatures are capable of pulling out entire young trees from the ground to feed on their roots.


Animals known as gophers, which are burrowing mammals, consume trees by feeding on their roots while creating underground tunnels and by consuming the bark of lower parts of the tree when they are above ground.


Animals such as mice have a preference for the inner cambium layer of trees, particularly fruit trees and other types with thin bark, which they consume.


Animals such as porcupines have a tendency to consume all components of a tree, with a preference for softwood varieties like pine, redwood, and cedar when accessible.


Animals such as rabbits and hares have a tendency to consume the bark of trees as far up as they can access, which may result in the death of juvenile trees.


Animals, such as rats, have a preference for fruit trees and find all parts of the tree appetizing. When resources are scarce, these predators will consume every part of the tree to ensure their survival.


Animals such as squirrels are well-known for their tendency to harm trees. Being omnivorous, they have a preference for nuts and seeds but can consume any part of the tree. Additionally, squirrels use trees as their habitat.


Animals known as voles have a resemblance to a combination of a mouse and a gopher, with over 100 species that feed on trees, particularly the soft bark of younger tree varieties.

What Large Wild Animals Eat Trees?

There are various predators in the wild that consume trees, including bears, moose, primates, raccoons, giraffes, elephants, pandas, and kangaroos. Additionally, deer can eat the foliage of bushes and trees as high as they can reach and also feed on pine needles, pinecones, and tree bark.

Livestock That Eats Trees

Animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, and horses have a tendency to graze on various parts of trees that are within their reach, which can lead to damage of the trees in their vicinity.

What Insects Eat Trees?

Animals can cause significant harm to trees. However, from an animal’s perspective, a tree is not viewed as a scenic element or financial asset. It is simply a source of sustenance and protection. It is noteworthy that several animals establish a mutually beneficial relationship with trees. For instance, some insects reside in trees and consume other pests in exchange for food, shelter, or resources. Conversely, certain insects may deplete the tree of its nutrients or valuable materials before departing.

Animals that consume trees may vary depending on the type of tree. Consulting a knowledgeable arborist in your area is advisable if you are unsure about the predator or prey responsible for the damage. The following are some common groups of insects that utilize or feed on trees.

  • Ants
  • Adelgids
  • Aphids
  • Beetles
  • Borers
  • Caterpillars
  • Cicadas
  • Moths
  • Scale insects
  • Termites
  • Weevils
  • Worms


Animals, such as ants, often approach trees for various reasons like water, food, or shelter. However, it is important to note that ants usually target decaying tree bark or wood. Therefore, if your tree is attracting ants, it could indicate that the tree is already in distress or nearing the end of its life.


Animal known as Adelgids, which are soft-bodied aphids, have a preference for coniferous trees such as pine, fur, hemlock, spruce and larch and extract plant juices and sap using their straw-like mouthparts.


Animals that are small and hard-bodied, such as aphids, have a tendency to consume sap from trees. The sap-like liquid produced by these insects is called honeydew, which can attract other insects like ants that feed on it.


Out of all the predator species that may inhabit or visit trees, bark beetles are likely the most harmful. These creatures consume the bark and lay their eggs beneath the sturdy outer layers of bark.


Animals that include beetles, moths, and other insects lay eggs on trees, which eventually hatch into predatory larvae known as borers. These borers feed on the bark or fruit of the tree to obtain nourishment and moisture during their growth stage.


Animals known as caterpillars, which are the juvenile form of butterflies and moths, have a varied diet that includes both tree leaves and the inner tissues beneath the bark.


Adult cicadas have a singular focus when they approach trees – to lay eggs on the underside of leaves. Once the nymphs, or young cicadas, emerge from these eggs, they proceed to burrow into the tree roots and consume the liquid inside.


Typically, predatory moths only harm trees while in the larval phase by consuming the foliage, yet certain moth varieties can inflict significant harm.

Scale insects

An animal known as scale feeds on the sap of trees, with some species having a soft body while others possess armor, but all have slender mouths that function like small funnels to extract the sap.


Animals that eat trees, such as termites, can cause significant damage to the tree by consuming it internally.


Animals known as weevils consume trees both in their larval and adult phases, with the latter pretending to be lifeless on the ground when caught eating leaves.


Trees are often consumed by animals, such as caterpillars, which are a transitional phase in the life cycle of a moth or butterfly.

What Eats Trees?

Having knowledge about the predators that consume trees, you will be more capable of maintaining your trees and promptly addressing any indications of continuous harm or invasion.

Learn More About What Animals Eat


You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

Boy Goat Names

Recent Posts