Can I Eat Tomatoes That Animals Have Bitten? + [How To Keep Them Away]

Animals such as squirrels love tomatoes. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise if you notice that there are bites on your tomatoes. But that also pauses a huge concern, “Can I eat tomatoes that animals have bitten?” 

You can eat tomatoes that animals have eaten after washing them and cutting out the bitten sections. It’s safe to eat tomatoes that animals have eaten since they rarely transfer any pathological organism that would otherwise hurt you. Rabbits-bitten tomatoes are safe – cut bitten parts and eat them. 

In this article, I will discuss more on animal-bitten tomatoes, their safety, and what to do before eating them. 

So, keep reading. 

Also Check: How To Get Thick Stems On Tomatoes

Can I Eat Tomatoes That Animals Have Bitten?

Yes, you can eat tomatoes that animals have bitten. However, you must wash them and cut out the parts that a critter has bitten. If a creature has chewed and you don’t know the type of animal, I recommend you cook the tomatoes. Eating tomatoes while raw may lead to rabies infections. This happens if rabid animals have bitten them.

In addition, parasites are a real threat. For instance, rodents like rats (including rat fleas) can carry typhus and plague. Other parasites, like tapeworms, can get into your digestive tract if they are not killed while cooking tomatoes.

Better still, don’t touch the tomatoes that have been bitten by an animal while gardening. This is to avoid spreading diseases you may transfer to other ingredients. Also, it’s better not to eat those parts of the tomatoes that have been bitten.

Is It Safe To Eat A Tomato That A Squirrel Bit Into?

Yes. Eating a tomato that a squirrel has bit into is safe as long as you wash the tomato and cut out the bitten part(s). A scientist, John L. Koprowski who is a professor of wildlife conservation at the University of Arizona says there’s no harm in eating squirrel-bitten tomatoes. To support his statement, he says squirrels don’t transfer bacteria to tomatoes. At least, not directly. 

So, though these creatures may transfer plagues to humans, it can only happen if they bite you. 

It’s, however, vital to note that such open sections on your tomatoes are exposed to bacteria. Consequently, eating them may cause health issues. Ringworm can also be transmitted by eating food contaminated by an infected squirrel. Toxic ringworm spores can live on contaminated food and spread to humans for an extended period. 

To be safe, therefore, always ensure that you thoroughly cook bitten tomatoes. That’s not to say that you neglect washing and cutting away bitten tomato sections. 

How To Prevent Squirrels From Biting Your Tomatoes

#1. Cages

Build strong cages around your tomato plants to keep the harmful animals away. While at it, remember that squirrels have the potential to jump on cages. Therefore, you need to install a roof on your cage to fully keep the squirrels away. 

Chicken wire is strong ad durable and would make good cages against a squirrel attack. If this is too pricey to afford, consider buying a hardware cloth. In this case, though, you may also need bird netting to ensure that the cage is strong enough against squirrel entry. 

#2. Chilli Spray

Chilli peppers produce sprays that are effective in keeping squirrels away from your tomatoes.  Interestingly, you can make this spray right in the comfort of your home or buy one from the agro vet stores. 

Additionally, sprays, grenades, pepper sprays, and hot sauces are viable options to keep squirrels away.

It’s advisable that before eating tomatoes that have been sprayed on, wash them thoroughly using clean running water. 

#3. Scare Methods

You can use various scare methods to keep squirrels away from your tomatoes.  Though this may be a short-lived method, it can help keep squirrels away from your tomatoes until harvest time.

The best scare methods you could consider trying out include:

  • Noisemakers
  • Wind chimes
  • Pinwheels 
  • Metal tape

#5. Cover Bare Soil

Squirrels prefer bare earth, where they may dig around for edible roots, nuts, and seeds, which they then bury. Therefore, try keeping them away by covering any soil that could be exposed using high-quality mulch.

#6. Pick Tomatoes Before They Are Fully Ripe

If your tomatoes are fully grown and you don’t mind storing them for about 2 weeks, you can harvest them to keep them safe from squirrels. 

The mature tomatoes will last at least two weeks, so feel free to remove them when you choose. Of course, this option is a considerable risk for those who want to eat their tomatoes fresh from the vine.

Why Do Squirrels Take One Bite Of Tomatoes?

Squirrels take one bite of tomatoes because they do not have the taste, nor can they detect anything. That one bite for them might not cost anything. It is just about the chewing, tactile sensation, and playing around with your food that they enjoy.

Squirrels are culprits, and unlike other animals which eat fruits and vegetables for food and conquer thirst, squirrels bite once. It’s doubtful to find a squirrel that has consumed the whole tomato. The image of the lifeless tomato at the end suggests that they are not interested in eating vegetables, fruits, or any fruits.

In addition, squirrels constantly look for the juiciest, ripest tomatoes, so one bite on the tomato is enough. 

Can Squirrels Contaminate Food?

No. Though squirrels cause life-threatening diseases such as Tularemia and Lyme, they can only directly transfer the same to humans if they bite people – but not by bitting tomatoes. Francisella tularensis is the bacterium that causes tularemia. A direct squirrel bite can transmit the disease to humans only by physical contact with an infected live or dead squirrel. 

This could only mean that you need to thoroughly wash your hands after getting into contact with a squirrel before handling any foods, including tomatoes. 

What Animal Eats Tomatoes At Night?

Various animals eat tomatoes at night including skunks, rats, rabbits, and raccoons. The skunks inflict most of the harm, eating a single piece of low-hanging fruit. Deer grazing from top to bottom causes significant damage. Raccoons and rats are more likely to eat smaller fruits, such as apples and pears.

In addition, many wild animals prefer not to spend the day out in the sun and take advantage of evening hours. Usually, the camouflage of these animals helps in tracking their movements much easier without predators noticing predators.

When you conduct a nighttime garden perimeter, one is safe from foxes and other animals and insects. You will soon see how many different creatures come to feed tomatoes at night. You’ll observe varmints like opossums, snakes, or even skunks, along with some odd birds who fold into the bushes for a mid-feeding stop.


Can I Eat Rat Bitten Tomatoes?

No. You cannot eat tomatoes bitten by rats. Rats can carry many bacteria, germs, viruses, and other nasties you do not want to encounter. In addition, rats can take the tomato fruit fly and other nasties that aren’t much fun to have in your food.

Do Birds Perk Holes In Tomatoes?

Birds can have perfectly well-seasoned peck holes in their tomatoes. This is one of those cases where you cannot let nature do what it wants and has a problem destroying your plants: if birds don’t leave large tomatoes alone, you need an alternative plan to control their fruit waste. In addition, birds will not eat your tomatoes more than they are meant for anyway. You need a bigger and better plan.

Bottom Line

Tomatoes bitten by animals should be thoroughly inspected, and any damage to the integrity of the tomato is likely not related to your pet. It’s essential to treat any tomato bitten by an animal with care and caution simply because the problem is not going away without proper actions taken.

Nonetheless, tomatoes bitten by animals may be perfectly safe to eat if washed thoroughly. Be sure to cut the bitten parts.