ClickCease Protecting Trees from Animal Damage in Winter - Arborist Now

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Animals May Damage Your Trees in Winter

While it is remarkable to see how wildlife survives the severe cold, snow, and ice of during the winter, it is also an annoyance in the spring to see how trees and animals affect each other in the winter. Animals such as deer, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks are just a few of the creatures active year-round and live in the cold.

During the spring and summer, we protect those plants most vulnerable in our gardens. We place wire around hydrangeas and rose bushes to prevent deer from munching on new growth, buds, and fully developed segments. Similarly, we inspect our gardens for holes and burrows where rabbits, moles, and field mice seek areas to inhabit. We tend to take preemptive measures towards protecting our smaller plants, and often overlook protecting our trees in winter.

Rutting season or bark rubbing season?

During the early autumn, male deer are on the move to partake in the rutting season. With about half a million deer inhabiting the state of California, it is no surprise that deer are one of the most prominent threats to trees during the fall and early winter. Rutting season is when male deer rub their antlers against trees in a ploy to wear off their velvet. Thin barked trees, such as birch and redbud are more susceptible to damage from deer than other trees.

If these thin-barked trees experience bark loss surrounding the entire circumference of a section of the trunk, they are more susceptible to girdling. Girdling is serious. This is when the bark has been scraped away all the way around the trunk and the energy transfers up and down the tree can be cut off. In many cases the tree will not survive, and it is important to call in an arborist to help gauge the situation. Most trees can recover from this damage but will lose limbs above the aggravated area.

Rabbits, Squirrels, Moles, and Field Mice Damage on Trees

Rabbit Hole

Deer damage the upper half of the trunk, leaving the bottom half for those smaller animals to aggravate. The lower damage to a tree often goes unnoticed due to most of it occurring under the surface. Field mice chewing on bark under the surface damage the tree drastically, so its health slowly declines. Rabbit damage is more noticeable, as they chew at bark above the surface level, and leave visible damage to the bark’s exterior.


With snow building up quickly in parts of California, animal damage to the bottom of a tree’s trunk can go unnoticed. Animal damage from field mice is often not spotted due to it taking place below the surface. However, rabbits damage is spotted during the springtime, when external factors may have had the opportunity to threaten the health of a tree.

At Arborist Now, we have means of protecting your trees all winter long. If you currently live on a property that has visits from several critter, consider contacting our team of certified arborists. Our arborists will choose to either, make physical barriers, wrap your trees, or move the mulch around your tree. Each of these methods assist in protecting your trees from winter wildlife. Contact us to ensure the safety of your tree until spring finally arrives.

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