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Do Deer Eat Bamboo? (Quick Answers)

Bamboo is one of the most loved plants by gardeners for its beautiful foliage and fast growth. However, one common worry of most gardeners is about protecting their precious plants from animals that destroy them.

Deer loves feeding on young leafy tips of plants. It can be quite a challenge for gardeners who live in deer-friendly areas to protect their plants from them.

While deer don’t usually graze on plants other than their preferred ones, a hungry deer can feed on any plant at their sight. Hence, it’s often a matter of concern for some gardeners whether deer will eat bamboo or not.

Do deer eat bamboo?

Deer can eat bamboo, but it is not their most preferred plant if there are other options available. They can still go for the young leaves and tips. Deer love to eat freshly grown plants. So when you plant a new bamboo plant, it’s better to protect it from deer.

Deer can munch on bamboo if there are no other options available. But do they eat all types of bamboo? Let’s find out.

Heavenly bamboo:

Heavenly bamboo, also goes by the scientific name Nandina Domestica, is known as a deer-resistant plant.

It is said that most deer don’t even touch or eat the leaves or any other parts of the plant. But, a deer may still eat it under rare or urgent circumstances.

It is a water-wise plant that requires low maintenance. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures (-10°F to 100°F) and stays green throughout the year, so this plant is loved by many gardeners.

Green bamboo:

Deer usually don’t go for any type of bamboo as long as there are other more preferred food options around them. But one thing about deer is that they get habituated fast.

If they taste a green bamboo and like them, they may come again to eat it. While green bamboo is not toxic and provides foliage all year round, deer can eat them if they grow fond of them.

Lucky bamboo:

Lucky bamboo is an indoor plant but it can grow both inside and outside. A deer is not likely to eat lucky bamboo.

Lucky bamboo contains some toxins and deer tend to avoid toxic plants. Lucky bamboo has the appearance of a bamboo plant but it is not actually bamboo.

Clumping bamboo:

Most clumping bamboo is referred to as deer resistant. Bamboo fargesia, an ornamental plant is also deer resistant. Some clumping bamboos have thorns in them. Deer would avoid a plant with thorns.

Is bamboo deer resistant?

There are a few species of bamboo that are known to be deer resistant. But, a desperate deer can eat any plant.

Deer tend to grow fond of plants that are readily available in abundance. Since bamboo is not toxic to them, they can develop a taste for the plant while living in an area full of them.

In some places where the plant grows in plenty, it can even become a primary food for some deer. Deer can’t stand being hungry and their choice varies with hunger.

When they are hungry and their preferred plants are not available, they can set for any plants in their sight. Many deer start eating bamboo like this and slowly develop a habit of eating it.

Do whitetail deer eat bamboo?

Whitetail deer may eat bamboo. Even though deer don’t see bamboo as their first option to feed on, they can still eat bamboo just to try it out and grow fond of it eventually.

Generally, deer will avoid eating any other food as long as their preferred sources are available. But the food habits of deer vary a lot with different species. It also changes with the area they live in.

A whitetail deer has a big appetite and it can eat a large amount of food. It loves feeding on young and tender tips, twigs, leaves, grass, fruits, corns, and acorns. It can even eat some toxic plants that humans can’t eat.

Therefore, if it ever comes across a young bamboo plant, it can go for the young tips and leaves.

Why bamboo is not preferred by deer?

Many of the bamboos are considered deer resistant. But there are reasons why they do not like to eat bamboo. Let’s know about the reasons.


Some bamboos produce toxins. Deer avoid plants with toxins so they don’t like to feed on bamboo plants if other options are available.

Ornamental grass:

Deer don’t like ornamental grasses. Bamboo is a big ornamental grass that doesn’t attract deer. A deer will pass by a bamboo plant as long as there are other food sources.

Thick and dense growth:

Most species of bamboo are thick and have dense growth. Deer find it hard to eat dense plants. This is why most of the time, they would avoid bamboo plants.


Not all species of bamboos are thorny, but some species grow up to be incredibly thorny. Deer don’t like thorny plants and avoid eating them.

Tough plant:

Bamboo is known to be a tough plant. Even though young plants can be soft, mature bamboo is mostly on the tougher side.

Deer don’t like eating tough parts of plants. Even if they go for a bamboo plant, they will prefer eating the young tips.

What parts of bamboo can deer eat?

Deer don’t really prefer eating bamboo. But as there are many species of deer, their food habits vary a lot.

Also, hungry deer can eat anything when their preferred food sources become scarce. Generally, a deer can eat the leaves, roots, and culms of a bamboo plant.

Bamboo leaves:

Deer can eat the leaves of bamboo. When they go for bamboo, they prefer eating the leaves more than the other parts. They will go for the young leaves as they are more tender. They rarely eat mature or old leaves of plants.

Bamboo roots:

A deer can eat the roots of young bamboo plants. Young roots are juicy and tender compared to mature ones.

While they won’t go for a bamboo if there are other options, they can be attracted by the new sprouts as they are soft and easy to eat. If they like the taste, they can grow fond of eating bamboo.

Bamboo culms:

Bamboo culm is another term used for the bamboo-shoot. Bamboo-shoots are the juicier parts of a bamboo plant. When a deer comes across a new bamboo plant, it may go for the young, new emerging ones.

Some are just hollow, ringed stems, while some are solid. Solid ones are juicier and easy to digest.

What if deer eat bamboo?

Bamboo is not bad for a deer. Both adult and young deer can eat bamboo. They can get some nutritional benefits from eating different parts of the bamboo.

But a deer would rather avoid eating bamboo when they have other options. Deer love feeding on narrow leaf evergreens but they dislike thorny and tough plants as those are difficult to consume.

Some bamboos are very thorny and deer would definitely avoid them. As we know, bamboo is a tough plant and deer don’t like eating tough parts of a plant.

Especially the young deer love eating the softer and juicer parts of the plants. Most bamboos are not appetizing to them.

How to keep deer away from your bamboo?

To keep the deer away from the bamboo, you need make sure that you take proper measure. Know about them to keep the deer away.

Fencing the garden:

Fencing is the easiest way to keep deer away from your garden. But most deer can jump over a 6ft height fence. Therefore, when you put fences to refrain deer from getting inside your garden, the height of the fence should at least be 8ft.

Also, the fence needs to be strong. The only problem with fencing is that a fence of 8ft height can be quite expensive.

Netting the plants:

Another great way of protecting your plants is to cover them in nets. You can protect the young tips of bamboo by covering them up with nets. This method can be used for other plants as well.

Provoking their sense of smell:

You can also take advantage of their heightened sense of smell. Deer search for food with their sense of smell so you can place things that will discourage them to come near your garden.

You can try planting highly fragrant plants. You can also use chemical odor-emitting repellents. Some gardeners use coyote urine and blood to scare them away.

Planting deer resistant plants:

Another great idea can be planting deer-resistant plants on the outer portion of your garden. This way, a deer will lose interest in even entering the garden.

Deer despise fragrant plants. They also tend to avoid toxic and thorny plants. You can try planting these types of plants on your garden’s outer part.

Final Thoughts

Deer can eat bamboo. It is not their first choice, but if other food options are unavailable, they can go for the young tips, leaves, and roots of bamboo. Sometimes they like the taste of a new plant after trying it out for the first time and then they keep on eating all the new growth.