What Animals Eat Roses?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton
Last updated on:

Spring is the time of the year when gardeners show off their hard work, and their gardens come to life with beautiful and vibrant colors. Of course, many gardeners’ pride will be their sweet-scented roses, but many will find to their horror that something has been munching on their pride during the night.  

Roses are not only beautiful to humans, but they are also a source of food for many animals.

This article will explore the question on any gardener’s lips:  “What animals eat roses?”  Furthermore, we will also look at ways to prevent certain animals from destroying your roses garden.

Do Deer Eat Roses?

Yes, deer do eat roses. Not only do they eat them, but they also think they’re delicious. Deer will usually start stalking your rose bushes at night. Although, on some occasions, you might notice them eating roses during the day.

A deer will eat pretty much every part of the rose plant, including the greenery, blooms, and buds. They will sometimes even eat the thorny stalks of your rose bushes.

A deer’s favorite part of the rose plant is new growth, because this is where the plant is tender, and even the thorns to an extent.

The average amount of plant material a deer will take from trees and shrubs is between 5 and 15 pounds a day. This means that just one deer can do considerable damage to your rose garden in a short period of time.

Do Squirrels Eat Roses?

Roses are some of the prettiest flowers in the world and are very attractive to people. But unfortunately, rose blooms are also very attractive to squirrels because of their color, scent, and taste.

Often, squirrels will bite off entire rose stems, pulling them down to get to the blooms and rose hips, and breaking the whole rose plant in the process. In addition, squirrels might munch on rose leaves as they crave the moisture trapped inside.

To add to this, squirrels enjoy digging holes to expose the roots and chew at them, which, coupled with stem damage, might destroy a rose plant beyond repair.

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Rabbits and Roses

Rabbits tend to gravitate toward plants belonging to the rose family, including roses and fruits like berries and cherries. However, rabbits usually eat the bark of trees and the lower leaves and canes on shrubs like roses.

If the flowers themselves are up high, such as on an older bush that is more than a couple of feet tall, you’ll probably see damage only to the parts of the canes and leaves that the rabbit can reach.

Kangaroos in the Garden

Kangaroos are amazing wild creatures, and simply watching them in their natural habitat is an enjoyable experience. 

However, kangaroos in the garden can be more nuisance than a delight due to their grazing habits. They will eat almost anything from prized roses to carefully tended vegetables.

Do Raccoons eat Roses?

Raccoons are omnivores and can eat anything from fruits, vegetables, small animals, insects, plants, grubs, and flowers, like roses, in your garden.

Raccoons are eating machines; they will eat roses irrespective of how thorny they are. These animals may even eat the buds of your roses before the flowers get the opportunity to bloom.

Raccoons enjoy roses because they are an easy source of food. They will look for food any way they can. This usually involves finding food in your gardens, whether pet food, garbage, or plants.

Caterpillars, Bugs, and Roses


Bollworms are caterpillars that chew holes and tunnels through your rose blooms.

A female moth lays her eggs onto the usually still closed bud. When the caterpillars hatch from their eggs, they feed on the blooms.

Rose Slugs

The little green worms on the underside of your rose bush’s leaves are commonly known as rose slugs.  These caterpillar-like creatures are the larvae of a sawfly. 

Rose slugs won’t hurt you, and they won’t kill your plants, but you may want to get rid of them ASAP because they will quickly eat holes in your rose foliage.


Aphids are sap-sucking bugs that are essential for many food chains and support many predators. Roses can host several aphid species in the spring and summer; the most common is usually Macrosiphum rosae

This rose aphid can reach 3.5mm in length and varies in color from pink to green. It can form dense colonies and produces large amounts of honeydew.  However, the root aphid does not appear to affect the health of roses. 

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Brown garden snails will attack a variety of host plants in your garden. So when snails make their way into your rose garden, control the problem as soon as possible. 

Though these pests are known for their slow movement, an infestation may result in severe damage.


Slugs that appear on roses are often the larvae of fly pests called sawflies.

Referred to as rose slugs, these pests appear yellow-green to dark olive green slug-like creatures measuring approximately 1/2 inch in length.

Rose slugs feed during the nighttime hours by chewing plant tissue from leaves.

Young slugs are commonly referred to as “skeletonizers” because they eat only soft tissue but leave leaf veins untouched. 


Spittlebugs feed on plants like ornamental grasses, roses, chrysanthemums, and many other garden plants. They are known for the frothy spittle mass they produce while feeding on plants.

Spittlebug nymphs pierce the plant stems and suck plant juices, but spittlebug feeding is not damaging to plants in most cases, especially on annuals and perennials.

If too many spittlebugs are present, feeding can cause the leaves to lose their shape.

Japanese Beetles

The Japanese beetle tends to be active in early summer. Its copper-colored back and blueish-green head easily distinguish it. It’s about a half-inch in size and can be hand-picked off your roses and their leaves.

If left unchecked, they can cause significant damage by skeletonizing the leaves. You’ll be left with an ugly-looking rose bush.

These are easy to spot and don’t bite, so you can just pick them off in the early morning and late evening.

How To Keep Your Roses Safe From Animals

Seeing your rose garden destroyed by animals and bugs can be aggravating, and you might start plotting your revenge.  We understand how infuriating this can be but strongly suggest that you use non-chemical and non-pesticide means to do so.

Various ways of keeping your roses safe include:

  • You can install a motion-activated sprinkler system and fences around your property to keep deer away from your rose bushes.
  • For squirrels, you can install a squirrel feeder and plant sunflowers.  You can also spray a mixture of cayenne pepper on the plants.
  • Rose slugs can be controlled by handpicking or removed by spraying them with water.
  • The best defense against rabbits is a three-foot-tall chicken wire fence with 6 inches buried in the dirt.  Another way is by using odor repellents consisting of a blood meal or powdered fox urine.
  • Use soap spray to keep bugs from eating your roses.  Mix half a teaspoon mild dish soap and one teaspoon cooking oil in a one-quart sprayer mixed with water.  Spray generously over your entire plant. 


In conclusion, yes, many animals eat roses and will do anything they can to feed on the fragrant plants.  Animals eat roses because they are easy to find and don’t need to be hunted and caught.

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