Carrots are a popular and delicious root vegetable. Originally domesticated in the Middle East about 4000 years ago, they come in a variety of colors, including purple, white, and the most well-known orange. This article discusses species of animals that consume carrots. We’ll take a look at domesticated animals fed carrots by people and wild animals that will pilfer carrots from gardens or eat wild carrots on their own.
The vast majority of carrot-eating animals are herbivores. They have specialized digestive systems that can handle fibrous vegetable matter. Omnivores will eat carrots occasionally.
Small carnivores like dogs, cats, and coyotes stay away from root vegetables because they don’t provide much nutrition for the effort it would take to digest them. It’s important to remember that both the tops and roots of carrots are edible. If an animal can’t get to the root, they’ll often just eat the leafy tops.
Read on to discover animals that consume carrots. You will learn about their species names, preferred habitat regions, and physical appearances.
16 Animals that Eat Carrots
1. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Scientific Name: Sylvilagus floridanus
The eastern cottontail is a common sight in backyards and gardens throughout the United States. Thanks to bedtime stories and nursery rhymes, the rabbit’s penchant for eating carrots is legendary. This is one legend we’re happy to confirm as true. Rabbits love eating carrots.
Most wild rabbits are more likely to eat the top of the carrot because it’s accessible and doesn’t require as much energy to obtain. However, if a rabbit feels safe and the soil is soft, it will dig into the ground, steal the carrot, and retreat to a safe location to eat it.
2. House Mouse
Scientific Name: Mus musculus
Mice are opportunistic rodents that will eat anything they can get their paws on. Carrots are one of these foods. There are usually two scenarios in which wild mice have access to carrots.
First, the mice might live outdoors on a farm. They’re able to munch on the carrot tops (and even the exposed root) at night or when there are no nearby threats.
Second, the mice have infested a barn or house. They feast on whatever foods are available inside. That may include stored carrots.
3. Brown Rat
Scientific Name: Rattus norvegicus
Brown rats are the infamous rodents that infest big cities. These rats are believed to have spread the plague in the Middle Ages. The brown rat was once geographically limited to Asia, but it now lives worldwide.
Part of the brown rat’s survival success can be attributed to its high adaptability. It can eat almost anything, squeeze through the smallest of holes, and endure temperature extremes. Carrots are just one of the thousands of foods this pesky rodent consumes.
Scientific Name: Equus ferus caballus
After you give a rabbit a carrot, you’d probably offer a horse a chomp on one. Horses are hindgut fermenters, a type of herbivore similar to a ruminant. They can digest complex plant matter like grasses better than humans, but still not as well as ruminants like cows.
Carrots are a great option to give to horses as a treat. They don’t have enough nutrition or fiber to be a main component of a healthy equine diet, but they’re a solid supplement. Horses can eat the entire carrot, so don’t feel like you need to remove the greens.
Scientific Name: Bos taurus
Cows can digest carrots easily. Digging them up is another matter. If a cow breaks into a garden and finds carrots, it’s more likely to eat the greens and pull up the root by accident. Trampling the garden beds might also expose the roots.
Carrots are too expensive to regularly give cows, which have to eat 2% of their body weight in food per day. Consider the veggies an occasional treat.
6. Domestic Pig
Scientific Name: Sus domesticus
There are plenty of wild pig species on earth, but today we’ll focus on the domesticated pig. Pigs are omnivores that normally find food by rooting around in the dirt with their powerful noses. Carrots are one such type of food that pigs would be likely to find.
Most pigs in production agriculture operations rarely, if ever, get carrots. There are other combinations of foods that are more affordable and nutritious.
However, if you are raising pigs, consider giving them carrots. Carrots are a great treat and have high levels of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A.
Scientific Name: Procyon lotor
The raccoon is an omnivore that eats both animal foods and plants. Unlike other animals on this list, it is not domesticated, nor does it rely solely on croplands. Raccoons are unusually adaptable mammals that forage in trash cans and suburban neighborhoods.
Carrots are a tasty snack for these critters. They’re more likely to look for the root vegetables in the fall. Late in the autumn, carrots are most mature. Raccoons are also more likely to be foraging for fallen nuts at this point in the year.
8. Pocket Gopher
Scientific Name: Geomys spp.
Root vegetables can be difficult to grow if you don’t have quality topsoil. What makes it worse is when there are pocket gophers ready to burrow through the soil and pluck your juicy, ripe carrots before you have the chance to!
Carrots are a staple food for pocket gophers. These rodents spend most of their lives burrowing through soil in grasslands and open plains. They regularly take advantage of croplands by pilfering plants and root vegetables before they’re ripe.
9. California Ground Squirrel
Scientific Name: Otospermophilus beecheyi
While there are other species of ground squirrels in the United States, the California ground squirrel poses the largest risk to carrots. It lives in the middle of the most fertile agricultural area in the United States: California’s Central Valley. Much damage comes from the gnawing and sneaky foraging of California ground squirrels.
This squirrel species lives in burrows and is an efficient burrower. It burrows into gardens and eats mostly nuts and grains. However, it won’t say no to fresh growth from carrots and other tubers.
10. Eastern Gray Squirrel
Scientific Name: Sciurus carolinensis
Tree squirrels spend most of their lives in trees. They bound between branches and scurry up trunks. Plants and nuts are the foundation to a tree squirrel’s diet. However, some fresh vegetables make it onto the menu.
Fortunately, eastern gray squirrels pose more risk to the bird feeder than they do to your garden. A squirrel trying to put on weight for the winter is more likely to eat nuts than carrots. Nuts have a higher fat content and, pound-for-pound, are more nutritious, than the tubers.
Scientific Name: Ovis aries
Carrots are like candy to most herbivores, and sheep are no exception. These wooly ruminants will enjoy eating carrots – both the leafy tops and the crunchy roots. You can feed carrots to sheep.
Depending on how old the sheep is, you may need to cook, grate, or cut the carrot into pieces. Sometimes carrots can pose a choking hazard, especially if the sheep hasn’t tried carrots before.
Scientific Name: Capra hircus
Out of all the livestock species on this list, goats are the most likely to find carrots on their own. Goats are nimble, sure-footed, and have reasonably good eyesight. They’re notorious for getting into places they shouldn’t be, especially gardens.
Keep your goats out of your garden by installing fences and gates with safety-proofed latches. Make sure your goats can’t jump over the fence!
13. White-tailed Deer
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus
The backyard gardener’s biggest threat is the white-tailed deer. These herbivores are efficient runners, great at jumping over fences, tend to raid gardens at dawn and dusk, and are very quiet. The concentration of so many growing vegetables in a garden is like a magnet that draws deer.
Carrots are just one of the different vegetables white-tailed deer eat. There are several ways to deter or prevent them from eating your carrots. High fencing, installing netting over the carrots, and putting down odiferous fertilizer are just a few.
14. Black Bear
Scientific Name: Ursus americanus
The black bear is the only predatory animal and one of just two omnivores on this list. It lives in North American forests and mountains. The best predictor of its presence is the abundance of trees and low habitat fragmentation.
Black bears fulfill their protein needs by killing prey like deer, insects, and salmon. The vegetable matter they consume includes new shoots, berries, fruits, nuts, and tubers. They rarely venture far enough out of forests to reach large-scale agriculture operations, but backyard gardeners living in mountains may need to watch out for these bears.
Scientific Name: Marmota monax
Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are furry rodents closely related to marmots. They’re abundant in the eastern United States, especially in forested areas and open woodlands.
They spend most of their lives living in one area. Adults excavate a burrow that becomes their home base. They rarely venture farther than 150 feet from their burrow.
Carrots are some of their favorite foods. Netting is the best way to prevent a groundhog from eating your carrots.
16. Guinea Pig
Scientific Name: Cavia porcellus
Your pet guinea pig will love to gnaw on a tasty carrot. Carrots are great supplements to guinea pigs’ diets because they help the rodent wear down its teeth.
All rodents’ teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Having something hard to gnaw on is crucial for the animal’s survival.