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Do Deer Eat Poison Ivy? (Yes…)

Do Deer Eat Poison Ivy? (Yes…)

Deer are ruminant mammals that predominantly feed on several crops and vegetation. A healthy deer will feed and browse enough green foliage to give it the necessary energy to survive in the wild.

Poison ivy is a flowering plant that thrives throughout North America. Several animal species devour poison ivy leaves, stems, and berries without showing any allergic reactions.

Well, this article precisely looks at poison ivy and if it is ideal for deer and other animal species. Continue reading to know more.

Read: Do Deer Eat Canna Lilies? (Somewhat Deer Resistant)

Is Poison Ivy Deer Resistant?

Poison ivy is considered deer resistant. However, it is an important food source for many wildlife animals. It contains urushiol, which does not affect deer health, and they will nibble the leaves or stem of the poison ivy if they do not find their favorite food source.

Additionally, deer usually find poison ivy leaves & stems shiny and attractive no wonder they will occasionally chew it in the wild. These herbivores are also attracted to bright leaf foliage. So in summer, a few species exhibit red blooms while others assume a desirable deep purple color. The white-tailed deer will browse on the leaves and fruits of poison ivy.

If you had previously grown poison ivy in your garden to keep deer away, then you might consider other deer-resistant plants like daffodils, lavender, lamb’s ear, and foxgloves.

Lastly, poison ivy does not smell and will not deter deer and other herbivores from approaching it. Some deer species are less sensitive to the toxic effects of poisonous ivy, unlike others.

Do Rabbits Eat Poison Ivy?

Rabbits are herbivores and feed on several plant species. However, eating poison ivy is a question that most people still find confusing. Some sources say that rabbits can eat poison ivy without any health complications. Other trusted sources, on the other hand, say that poison ivy leaves, berries, and stems are toxic to rabbits cursing diarrhea or fatal paralysis.

If you are keeping rabbits at home to help control weeds, it would be best to avoid feeding them poison ivy, especially with other alternative food sources. This is because (1) Poison Ivy is not a favorite food choice for rabbits, (2) experts believe that poison ivy might cause poisoning in rabbits because of its high toxicity, and (3) it is not tender or nutritious.

If your bunny ingests poison ivy, watch out for its behavior. You should contact a vet if you notice any unusual activity in your rabbit. However, some rabbits might accidentally consume poison ivy and will not show any signs and symptoms of food poisoning.

Do Pigs Eat Poison Ivy?

Pigs are omnivores and will consume almost anything, including weeds and different varieties of vegetation. Some farm owners use pigs to control the amount of weed on the farm or at home. Although, it is not a recommended technique because poison ivy contains toxic sap causing skin irritation.

There is no proof to confirm that poison ivy might cause an allergic reaction or stomach complications in pigs. So, pigs might eat poison ivy, among other plant varieties.

In addition, pigs have a monogastric digestive system like humans. Pigs consume a big fraction of plant-based material. However, they are allergic to a few plant species like bracken, sweet peas, and hemlock. Additionally, they have a well-developed digestive system that can efficiently digest plant-based enzymes. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach is enough to kill bacteria and ensure proper digestion. So, eating poison ivy will not affect the pig.

If you are keeping pigs as livestock, you should differentiate between poisonous and nonpoisonous plants.

Do Squirrels Eat Poison Ivy?

First, you must understand that squirrels have a diverse diet of nuts. Surprisingly, these medium-sized rodents will often eat food in the wild that is poisonous for human consumption. Poison ivy is, however, not considered a favorite diet for squirrels. They dislike the leaves and the stem.

In the wild, the weather can deteriorate severely in winter, causing a lack of food for most animals and rodents. So, most animal species, like squirrels will seek alternative diets to survive. These medium-sized rodents will occasionally devour poison ivy berries due to the lack of their favorite diet.

Note that, many animals do not have a problem eating poison ivy leaves, stems, or berries.

What Animals Eat Poison Ivy?

Poison ivy is not poisonous to most animals. In fact, a few animals and birds in the wild feed on poison ivy berries/drupes because it is a rich source of vitamins & nutrients and provides energy in winter. However, deer prefer the leaves compared to the berries.

You should understand that eating poison ivy is not a common behavior for many wild animals. The list of all animals that include poison ivy in their diet  is exhaustive. In general, poison ivy sustains many animals when food is limited or when there is no alternative.

The few common wildlife animals include muskrats, black bears, wood rats, and white-tailed deer.

You should note that poison ivy is adaptable to different environments. Also, it is a fast-growing plant that spreads widely across the farm. So, a few animals might feed on them as a supplementary diet.

Rodents like chipmunks and squirrels feed on the berries.

Wild turkeys, yellow-rumped warblers, quails, and bobwhite are a few common bird species that comfortably feed on the poison ivy berries.

Apart from the wild, many people use goats to get rid of poison ivy at home. This is because goats are not affected by the plant’s sap or leaves.

With that being said, you should not worry about a few poison ivy varieties on your farm the next time you are out in the wild. It is another supplementary diet for many wild herbivores.

Which Plants do Deer Like to Eat the Most?

Deer show a particular preference for several flowering plants to satisfy their ferocious appetites. Typically, most of the plants you might have in your garden like the English Ivy or a few narrow-leaved evergreens are their favorite. In the wild, they will eat different plants depending on their availability, population, or season.

Here are the favorite plants that these herbivores prefer eating.

In the garden, deer will devour and scarf down hostas, daylilies, thorny roses, Azeleas, Blueberry, white clover, American Arborvitae, and Tulips. If you live in a deer cruise neighborhood, growing these plants will surely invite unwanted guests.

According to observations, deers like broad-leaved and tender p[lant species that do not have a pungent smell or fuzzy petals. They find white clover and alfalfa to be sweet-smelling and will likely browse the leaves.

In the wild, deer will incline along privet, native red maple, Oriental bittersweet, and Morrow’s honeysuckle. These plants grow wildly and can be available in large amounts to satisfy deer appetite.

Lastly, deer fancy evergreen shrubs, flowers, vines, and climbers as a secondary alternative to their favorite plants. So, you should know a few deer-resistant plants to grow in your garden if you want to avoid destruction.

How to Protect Poison Ivy From Deer?

Poison ivy is an important food source for a few wildlife. In the garden, poison ivy can attract different animal species, including deer. In return, deer will browse other plants and flowers if they are attracted by poison ivy. So, it would be best to protect your garden.

Here are four approaches you can use to protect poison ivy in the garden and avoid attracting deer.

Plant deer-deterrent plants in the garden

Planting deer resistant plants like lavender, daffodils, and marigold around poison ivy will keep deer away. Deer find these plants less attractive and will not browse nearby plants.

Use deer-repellant sprays

Commercial deer-repellant sprays are available in several brands. These sprays contain unpleasant smell to deer. You can spray poison ivy with the recommended spray to keep deer away.

Use motion-activated sprinklers

Motion-activated sprinklers help keep deer and other stubborn rodents away from your lawn or garden. The sprinklers will automatically turn on and scare away the deer in case of slight motion.

Use deer barriers/fences

Fencing is a traditional approach, but the most common and effective remedy homeowners use to protect their gardens from persistent deer. You can erect the barrier in all the areas you want to safeguard the poison ivy.

With that said, it is always necessary to take precautions when handling poison ivy because slight contact with the ivy’s toxic oil can result in persistent and painful rash.

Read: Do Deer Eat Nasturtiums? (Not Favorites)


Poison ivy is a toxic plant that is undesirable at home. The sap causes skin irritation in animals and humans. A few animals, however, do not find the toxicity of the plant a health problem. Deer, for example, can eat the leaves and stem of poison ivy when food is scarce.

This article has looked at poison ivy, and its effect on pigs, rabbits, deer, and squirrels.