Even though we see them as decorations, there are several species of animals that eat flowers. Some of them are even attracted to flowers because of the intense scent after which they eat the petals and the roots.
Take a look at what animals eat flowers below:
Scientific name (class): Gastropoda
Snails are tiny animals that eat flowers, but they also use them for protection during the day. At night, they come out to feed and they’ll usually eat flowers in moist areas that are also sunny.
They prefer lilies and irises, but they also love orchids and they’re a potential danger to anyone who has orchids. Snails will quickly build up an entire population in your garden and eat your orchids until they are no more.
Scientific name (order): Testudines
To make it clear – most herbivores will eat flowers if they’re starving. To some, however, eating flowers is completely normal. Turtles are an order of species that eat plants regularly, and that includes flowers.
Even though they can be carnivorous if the opportunity arises, they mostly feed on plants and flowers. A turtle won’t back away from a flower if it’s hungry, but they’re luckily slow and usually only remain near wet areas such as lakes and rivers, so they’re unlikely to invade a garden.
Scientific name (family): Sciuridae
Squirrels avoid eating plants as much as possible since they can’t process cellulose, but a hungry squirrel will eat a flower if there’s nothing else to eat. This, however, is very rare, as eating a flower can cause complications for them.
They’re also known to eat buds that grow on trees when they’re short on nuts, while some squirrels have also been found eating meat – be it animals they found or animals they killed.
This too, however, is very rare – as squirrels have a difficult time processing any food except for nuts.
Scientific name (suborder): Lacertilia
Only 2% of lizards are plant eaters, with the iguana being the most famous of those. These reptiles eat flowers gladly, and they’ll eat the leaves, the stem and the petals.
It’s also been documented that some non-plant-eating species of lizards force themselves to eat fruit, even though it’s not natural for them, just because it’s so easy to find and to digest.
All reptiles have strong stomach acid and they’re able to process bones, hooves and horns. However, younger lizards that eat plants have a difficult time processing plants, so they eat feces from adults to acquire the necessary microflora to be able to process plants.
Scientific name (order): Didelphimorphia
There are over 120 species of opossums in North and Central America, and there are quite a few species that aren’t only willing to eat flowers – they actually love them.
Opossums are often attracted to flowers because of its very strong scent, but they eat the entire plant for the nectar. They can cause quite a problem for flowerers, as they’ll eat an entire garden if you let them.
Interestingly, they are immune to quite a few things. Some species of opossum are actually immune to rattlesnake venom, and they also have enhanced immunity when it comes to flowers – they won’t cause food poisoning.
Scientific name (family): Cervidae
Deer absolutely love flowers and there aren’t many plants they won’t eat. Most notably, they won’t eat a cactus (for obvious reasons) and irises – they taste bad.
Aside from those species of flowers, deer will eat literally anything and they’ll enjoy it too. This is where they often come into conflict with humans. Deer are very capable animals and jumping over fences to get to a flower garden isn’t a problem for them.
They’re usually desperate for food and they’re willing to risk their lives to get flowers. The only way to protect against them is by installing a very tall fence, which usually solves the problem.
If there’s a field of flowers in the wild, deer will devour it.
Scientific name: Alces alces
This gentle giant needs unbelievable amounts of food on a daily basis to survive, which is why it’s more than glad to eat flowers. This usually happens during the winter, when food is scarce.
There are plenty of species of flowers that grow and even bloom during the winter in Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and Russia – this is the type of food moose will be looking for during the winter.
At that time, flowers actually comprise a large percentage of their food intake, as there isn’t much else they can eat. They also eat flowers growing on trees – not just flowers blooming from the ground.
Scientific name (family): Leporidae
Similar to deer, rabbits are a pest when it comes to flowers. They’ll eat pretty much any flower, both in wilderness and in captivity, and they often pose a problem for gardeners.
Since they’re so short, they prefer eating lower-growing flowers, and they usually invade gardens near the woodlands. They’re also more difficult to defend against in comparison to deer!
Because rabbits are so small, it’s difficult to install a fence that can keep them out (because the mesh has to be more dense). Even when you install a fence, rabbits are burrowers and they’re very agile. It’s possible that they’ll squeeze through similar to how a cat would do it.
Scientific name (class): Insecta
There are hundreds of thousands of species of insects in the world, but many of them feed on flowers. For example, male mosquitoes feed on the nectar within the flowers (while the females suck blood), crickets and grasshoppers will also gladly take a bite from a petal.
Japanese beetles are an invasive species that’s spread around the United States and they find flowers as their only source of food. It’s important to note, while there are many insects that eat flowers, they’re also crucial to the survival of the entire planet.
Insects are the biggest pollinators on Earth and they’re essentially keeping the entire ecological system somewhat stable.
Insects are probably the biggest flower eaters on the planet, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Many other animals, mostly considered pests, will eat flowers both as a primary source of food and as a last resort.
Rabbits and deer, for example, are pests and flowerers often have trouble with them. Other animals eat flowers in the wild, like turtles and lizards, while there are probably even more species that will eat flowers if they’re desperate, but they haven’t yet been documented.