What Type of Eater?
Every single living thing on this planet eats something. Depending on what the creature is will impact what the animal can eat. Some animal’s stomach can digest meats while others can only eat berries and greens. Deer fall into the berries and greens category. They are herbivores and do not eat any kind of meat or animals. They rely solely on what they can rip off of trees and bushes or what falls to the ground.
Built To Eat These Things
Their teeth are built to accommodate this eating lifestyle. They have no upper front teeth but have molars on the top and bottom. They use their back teeth to pull leaves, grasses, and other greenery to feed on. Though they typically do not feed on grass or lawns, during starvation periods they will eat anything they can find. They do however prefer to pick food off the ground rather than pulling something off a stalk, tree, or shrub. Meat may not be a food source for deer, but they are able to digest poisonous foods like certain mushrooms and the tannins in acorns and oaks. Deer eat such a vast variety of foods that the amount of poisonous food they intake is counteracted and not harmful to the animal. They can also eat fungus and other algaes that are found on dead or decaying trees.
Deer like to eat a variety of things in the warmer months when it is available. Deer prefer to eat lush vegetation and flowers over leaves and grass. Acorns, mushrooms, and hostas are luxury items to the deer community. They can even be found to eat cultivated vegetables like beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybeans, wheat, and rye. In the spring and summer months, deer will have much more to graze on. Deer are very efficient eaters. They try to get the most they can out of a meal. This is why when we plant our beautiful gardens, they will eat all the tops of the flowers and not the whole thing. The stalks of flowers have little to no nutrients so they will refrain from eating them.
The winter months are a very bad time for deer. Since they do not eat meat, their diet becomes extremely limited. Most vegetation dies, becomes dormant or looses their fruits in the winter months. Some shrubs and trees such as arborvitae plants keep their green leaves and become, a prime eating source for deer. During very harsh winters, deer can be seen eating literally anything they can get their mouth on. There are documented cases where deer have starved with a full belly because their bodies simply could not digest the twigs and other plant matter they tried to eat. http://www.wideopenspaces.com/9-things-didnt-know-deer-stomach/ Although uncommon, it just shows us there is nothing deer resistant. This is why it is so important to keep all your plants protected through the winter and not just in the summer months.
Eating is the Reason For Living
Eating tends to be the reason for most things that deer do. For instance, where they bed down will not only be a place of security but also a short distance to a food source. They also walk in certain patterns based on food locations. Young deer tend to walk in a very direct path to where the food is. Older deer will walk more strategically in order to avoid threats. Typically during the day they get up for a snack and tend to sleep, while during the night they tend to feed more and are active. This is also not a strict schedule that they need to follow. Everything is subject to change depending on their mood, how hungry they are, weather patterns, and more.