I have some rows of beets, and it seems that something has started to eat their beet greens. Interestingly, whatever is eating them seems to be working its way methodically up the row, rather than eating the biggest ones first. There are not many fallen greens on the ground which makes me think it is a critter and not a bug. I have a fenced-in yard so nothing bigger than a raccoon could get in (there is space under the fence). If it helps, I am in the US Pacific Northwest region.

Are there critters out there that like to eat beet greens?


Animals we have seen in the past

  • Cats
  • Moles
  • Rabbit (in a previous year)
  • Dog

We also have other vegetables that have not been eaten (yet!)

  • Tomatos
  • Cucumber
  • Beans
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots

enter image description here enter image description here


I was able to get a footprint, but unfortunately it is not well-defined. The fact that it is so light does make me think that the critter is more rabbit-sized than deer-sized.

enter image description here


Looks like rabbits to me. Where is it you live? What animals have you observed? This is how rabbits eat; they leave the tougher main vein and eat the leaf completely.

PNW is famous for slugs. Surely you are able to recognize a slug slime trail? Were there any slime trails?

I see bunnies snacking. We have wild bunnies that are easy to keep out of the garden using wire fencing...just 2 to 3 feet in height.

If you had evidence of tomatoes or cucumbers or squash being eaten then I would say rodents: Mice, voles, rats. Far smaller than Raccoons who like oysters, chickens, richer foods than just vegeys. You need to put in a wire fence that baby bunnies are not able to get through.

I am worried about that beet plant in your picture. Why would those leaves on the periphery be acting like they are in drought? Look at the beet itself. Beets that large should be harvested and eaten anyway. You should be enjoying those leaves cooked like spinach! Total yummmmm! Look to see if that beet is being chewed on by...rabbits or rodents. Mice and rats will go for the beet, a tomato, an eggplant, shelling peas over sugar flat pea pods. Do you have cats? Whatever you do do not put out poison!

If you could take a picture of the 'chew marks' left on those petioles, that would help narrow the suspect (s) down considerably. Look at the beet poking above the soil. Pull the soil back and look for chew marks. Pull the chunky mulch stuff back and put fine soil down around your plants. You will readily be able to see tracks and scat!

  • We have had slugs in our strawberries in the past so I would recognize that. As for the rest I'll update my question to respond. Aug 29 '18 at 1:45
  • Also, we have been in a bit of a drought for about two months. Aug 29 '18 at 1:46
  • Thanks for the note about them being awfully big and ready to eat. My wife has been insisting we wait till they get "just a bit bigger", and I think this is the push she needed to let me pull them! Aug 29 '18 at 1:55
  • 2
    Yeah, looks like rabbits, but I've seen similar damage from woodchucks (had a family living under a shed for awhile last year). Have you tried using a trail cam? That's how I found out who was under the shed AND who was eating my vegetables. For your sake, I hope it's rabbits: woodchucks are greedy buggers and difficult to get rid of in a city (they can't easily get lead poisoning there...).
    – Jurp
    Aug 29 '18 at 2:54
  • 1
    He would have noticed the tunnels and digging if it were woodchucks. What else is herbivorous in the area?
    – stormy
    Aug 29 '18 at 2:59

It sort of looks like deer damage to me. Could a deer leap your fence? If the weather has been dry the hoof marks would be harder to see than in moist soil. My concern about it being rabbit is that rabbits would work their way up one side of the row, that is from the side, deer would work from the top down and both sides. Deer can come at night and be gone by early morning. Deer are fond of beets and beans, what other plants are under attack as well as beets?

  • I’m not sure a deer could leap the fence - it is 6 ft where it faces the neighbors yard, and 10 ft in the back. So far, nothing else has been eaten. Aug 29 '18 at 14:13
  • a six foot fence is nothing to even a little white tail deer, from a stand still. 10 feet? If they are able to hit the top of the fence they can most certainly vault the rest of the way. Have you ever watched these guys bound and jump through the forests? I have. You, Seth, will be able to find out the real bandit with this easy to see track medium. Have you guys ever watched rabbits dig? Oh my. If they are hungry they will dig and get at the food. Bunnies and other wildlife want to survive.
    – stormy
    Aug 30 '18 at 4:54
  • Deer would have eaten the entire plant, pulled it out and shook the roots of soil to eat some of that as well. Grins. I love this discussion. Where there are deer there are cougar, bobcat and bears. And that is the truth. I had to get tough with clients who wanted to put their play grounds right next to the greenbelts. I had to drag them out to see cougar hair on the wire fences, bear print and scat, coyotes will certainly kill cats and small dogs. Learning to 'track' is learning the language of the natural world again. You see far more and can read what is happening outside your home.
    – stormy
    Aug 30 '18 at 5:03
  • Behind the fence is an absurdly large patch of very aggressive blackberries, and behind that is a 15ft concrete wall, and behind that is the light rail for my area, and behind that is a 20ft chain link fence. It is like that all along my street, so even though the deer could jump the fence I don’t think they could get close enough to attempt the jump. Aug 30 '18 at 21:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.