Do Squirrels Eat Peaches?

Trees before we cut them downWe’ve had a heck of a time trying to grow peaches in our back yard. We live in Georgia, which is known as the Peach State, where even the license plates show pictures of peaches so you’d think it would be easy.

In the fall of 2004 we bought a house in the country with a huge back yard, woodsy areas on each side which gives us a little privacy from our neighbors, and a 12-acre lake which we share with the community.

Cutting down the treesWe had a vision of picking peaches from our own trees in the summer – juicy homegrown peaches, totally organic, ripe for the picking every year. As trees were already growing where we wanted to plant the new fruit trees, we had to cut down the existing trees and dig out the stumps, which the two of us did by hand. That was backbreaking work, I’ll tell you!

Planting a baby peach treeThe following spring we planted a dwarf apple tree, a dwarf pear tree, and a dwarf peach tree, all self-pollinating so that we wouldn’t have to plant multiple trees to generate fruit. Then we waited, dreaming of the peaches we’d get the following year. Friends were regaling us with stories of the peaches they were picking in their back yards, and how they were enjoying fresh peaches and peach cobbler.

Flooded peach treeBut then the flood came, the lake water rose up and all you could see of our little peach tree was the very top. The water went down as fast as it had come up, but the damage was done. No sooner had the floodwaters abated than the beavers came and chopped down our peach tree, apple tree and pear tree. All that was left were foot-high stumps which we surrounded with chicken wire to protect from future attacks. We prayed the trees would grow back.

It took several years for the trees to get big enough to produce fruit again, but they finally did. Fast forward to 2011, which is six years after we first planted the peach tree. It had finally grown big and happy and was covered with peaches which were ripening in the summer sun. Finally, after all our hard work and waiting, we were going to be eating our very own peaches!

Happy peach treeEvery day we watched as the peaches got a little riper, knowing that we were almost there. We figured another week or two and they’d be ready to pluck. Six years we’d waited and now it was time, we could almost taste the sweet juicy peaches.

The tree was fully loaded with peaches when we went to bed, but in the morning there was not even one peach on the tree. The entire tree was completely stripped bare of peaches. Not a single solitary peach was left. Not a pit could be found on the ground. There wasn’t a single clue left behind to explain the disappeareance of all of our peaches overnight. What had happened to the peaches? Where had they gone?

Green peaches in GeorgiaWe had fenced our yard so access was limited. The only critters we’d seen were an occasional possum, dozens of squirrels, a couple of chipmunks, turtles, snakes, and birds. It would take a whole flock of giant birds to carry off every peach on the tree, and we hadn’t seen such a flock in all our years there unless you counted the geese.

We figured the squirrels or possums would have left behind evidence, such as peach pits on the ground or half eaten peaches. But we’d found nothing. Whoever had stolen our peaches had carried off every peach and left no evidence behind. Had someone rode in on a boat in the middle of the night and stripped the tree? Surely they couldn’t have gotten them all in the dark, and someone would have to be awfully hungry to go to so much trouble.

We even considered a totally bizarre theory with UFOs as the culprit. How else could every single peach disappear overnight without leaving behind even one peach pit as evidence? We were reaching for explanations. We couldn’t come up with a single, logical explanation for the missing peaches. Every single peach had vanished overnight and we didn’t get to enjoy a single one.

Winter came, and then spring, and I was cleaning the leaves out from under a giant tree. Among the leaves I found dozens of peach pits. Evidence! I’d finally found evidence! At least we knew it wasn’t people or UFOs, but critters who’d stolen all the peaches. The most likely culprit was squirrels though we still didn’t have absolute proof. Only the suspicion.

That year the peach tree blossomed forth again and we watched as the peaches grew ripe on the tree. It looked like it was going to be a bumper crop, and we watched the tree like a hawk remembering the Big Peach Theft of the previous year.

I was upstairs looking out a 2nd storey window when I noticed that the peach tree was moving as if someone were shaking the tree really hard. One of the lower branches was dipping down as if pulled down by a child’s hand. I watched in fascination as the culprits revealed themselves. A half a dozen squirrels were running up and down the tree trunk, plucking peaches and rushing off with them.

Georgia ripening peachA half a dozen more squirrels were loitering nearby, waiting for their chance. I’d never seen so many squirrels in our yard, which was now hopping from end to end with squirrels scampering off with our stolen peaches. By the time I ran down the stairs, out the door and down to the peach tree, half the peaches had been stolen. The army of squirrels had stripped half of the peaches off the tree that quickly. They succeeded in getting the rest of the peaches later that day.

Another year had gone by and we’d missed out on our peaches yet again. We’re now into the summer of 2012, we’ve waited seven whole years to eat a peach from our own peach tree and we still haven’t been blessed. Georgia might be the Peach State but it’s also the Squirrel State as far as we’re concerned, because an army of squirrels can easily make all of your peaches go poof!

So to answer the question: Do squirrels eat peaches? Yes, they most certainly do! What good is it to live in the Peach State if you can’t grow your own peaches? Nobody has a good answer for that.

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    4 Responses to Do Squirrels Eat Peaches?

    1. anthony aguilar sr says:

      I purchased two peach trees with already peaches growing on them. I had them for two months and watered them every three days. The morning I went to water them I noticed a squirrel in one of the trees taking the last peach off the tree. My trees were bare, no peaches left. I was upset because I was looking forward to enjoying one of my favorite fruits. So, I just learned something that squirrels like peaches too and looking for ideas to keep them off my trees so that I can enjoy peaches for the next harvest.

      • Allie says:

        We never did find a solution. Though I can’t say that we really tried to. We did hang some flashy pie plates from the trees but that did not deter them.

    2. Marchelle Webb says:

      Same problem. My solution is to wait until the peaches are almost ripe and then pick them before the squirrels do. I put them in brown paper sacks to finish ripening and in a couple of days, I have lots of ripe peaches to eat or put in the freezer.

    3. Frank Beard says:

      You described almost exactly what happened to us. At the time, it was my parents “lake” house in Texas, which is now their home. We had gone up to do work on the property. The two peach trees, which had dozens of peaches each, were about two weeks from being ripe, but we couldn’t be back until three weeks. When we came back, not a single peach was anywhere to be found, and no evidence except some chewed off limbs. Eventually, we found a group of pits over by another tree a little distance away, apparently where the party happened. So, your story made me laughed, but I definitely felt your pain. And, with our trees we only had maybe two more chances before some beetle/insect got until the trees and killed them. So, apparently, we weren’t supposed to have peaches either. We also lost a great pear tree to a beetle attack. Anyway, the only battle left now is the onslaught against the pecan tree, since nothing seems to bother the satsumas or the lemons. Thanks for sharing.

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