Tree bark is a surprisingly important dietary component for many wild animals. While it may not be as palatable as other foods like fruits or vegetables, tree bark offers a wide range of nutritional benefits to various species—from deer to bears and porcupines. In addition to supplying essential nutrients, tree bark is also readily available in most habitats and can provide significant energy when other food sources are scarce. Eating tree bark has its drawbacks, however, such as stripping away protective layers from trees that can hinder their growth or even cause them to die.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the types of animals that eat tree bark, the reasons why they do so, the nutritional value it provides them with, the effects on trees when animals eat their bark and ways to deter wildlife from eating tree bark. We’ll also include some examples of common trees whose barks are commonly consumed by animals as well as how weather conditions affect animals feeding on tree barks and how it helps maintain ecosystem balance.
Types of Animals That Eat Tree Bark
Several types of animals consume tree bark for sustenance; these include deer, porcupines and bears. Deer are known for their fondness for browsing shrubs and saplings but will resort to eating more mature trees if needed; especially during winter when there is less vegetation available.
Porcupines have very strong incisor teeth which they use to strip away bits of outer bark off larger branches to expose inner soft tissue which they then feed upon; they also enjoy gnawing through young shoots or mature trunks in search of tender cambium (the layer between sapwood and wood).
Bears have been observed actively searching out patches of dead wood where they can strip away large pieces of the outer layer before consuming the inner softer tissue beneath it. This behavior is most often seen during summer months when food sources such as nuts and berries become scarce due to competition with other species or limited availability within certain areas.
Reasons Why Animals Eat Tree Bark
The two primary reasons why animals consume tree bark are nutritional value and the availability of food sources. While there are some nutrients present in the outer layers themselves (such as fiber), the majority lies in softer tissues just beneath them which contain higher concentrations of minerals like calcium & magnesium along with vitamins A & B12. Additionally, because many plant-based foods (particularly fruits/berries) tend to be seasonal or localized depending on habitat type/climate conditions; tree bark provides an easily accessible source year-round regardless of environmental conditions outside individuals’ current range boundaries
For example, both herbivores & omnivores inhabiting temperate regions may find access to hardwoods growing just beyond their immediate vicinity particularly advantageous throughout winter months when snow cover limits access to previously viable options such as grasses & shrubs. Furthermore, some species may resort to chewing through bark-covered tree trunks if access to other nutrient-rich foods (such as nuts) is unavailable due to competition with other wildlife.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Tree Bark for Different Animal Species
As previously mentioned, the nutritional benefits of tree bark depend largely on which species consume it; for instance, deer tend to obtain higher amounts of proteins from their diet than porcupines whose main source of energy comes from fibers found just beneath outer layers. Similarly, bears may benefit from higher concentrations of vitamins A & B12 since they rely mostly upon soft inner tissues rather than surface bark alone. Additionally: both herbivores & omnivores can take advantage of extra magnesium present in many types of trees (which helps regulate blood sugar levels) as well as carotene content found within some species (which helps improve eyesight).
Effects on Trees When Animals Eat Their Bark
While there are some benefits associated with animals eating tree bark—such as providing them with essential nutrients and helping maintain ecosystem balance—there are also potential drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration. For instance: stripping away protective layers of a tree’s outer layer can prevent proper photosynthesis from occurring and thus hinder its growth or even cause it to die if too much has been consumed. In addition, certain species such as porcupines have sharp teeth that allow them to gnaw through thicker sections of wood which can leave permanent damage on trees if done excessively.
This is particularly problematic when parts containing buds/seeds are affected (as these provide next generation’s opportunity for growth) or when areas around root systems become exposed. It should also be noted that consuming too much bark could lead to animals becoming malnourished due to low amounts of digestible material available. Monitoring this type of behavior will help ensure the long-term health of individuals involved while maintaining healthy population numbers overall.
Ways to Deter Wildlife From Eating Tree Bark
Fortunately, there are several ways to deter wildlife from eating tree bark that can help reduce any potential harm being caused to plants/trees. One such method is using physical barriers like wire mesh fences to surround younger specimens while they mature enough to fend off predators themselves. Another option would involve spraying repellants onto surfaces to discourage consumption (but caution should be used here to determine what type of chemicals/substances are being used beforehand).
Additional methods include providing alternate food sources by planting fruit-bearing shrubs/bushes in the surrounding area and/or making sure nearby water sources remain cleanly accessible during periods of drought stress. Lastly—by educating people about the dangers posed when overbrowsing occurs—public awareness may increase and take necessary measures to ensure sustainable management practices stay in place for years to come.
Examples of Common Trees Whose Barks Are Commonly Consumed by Animals
The types of trees whose barks are commonly consumed by animals depend largely upon the region where they reside; however, some more common examples include White Spruce, White Pine, Red Maple, Paper Birch and American Beech among others. These species tend to have softer outer layers that are easier to chew through but also offer higher concentrations of proteins/fibers; although some animals may prefer bark from more mature trees as these contain higher amounts of minerals & vitamins.
How Weather Conditions Affect Animals Feeding on Tree Barks
Weather conditions can greatly affect how much tree bark is consumed by animals. For instance, during periods of prolonged drought (or other extreme climatic events such as flooding) access to food sources becomes limited for many species which then forces them to rely upon trees for sustenance instead. Additionally, colder temperatures can inhibit the growth of plant-based material and thus limit availability. This in turn increases the chances wildlife will resort to stripping away protective layers from larger specimens to obtain nutrient-rich inner tissues beneath them. Lastly, during winter months when accessing conventional food sources become increasingly difficult, animals may consume large amounts of tree bark to maintain their energy levels throughout the season.
How the Consumption of Tree Barks Helps Maintain Ecosystem Balance
The consumption of tree bark helps to keep ecosystems in balance by providing essential nutrients to various types of wildlife. This can help sustain healthy populations of different types of animals—especially those occupying temperate regions—by providing an easily accessible source year-round. Furthermore, eating tree bark has been known to aid the digestion of many herbivores & omnivores alike due to the high fiber content found just beneath the surface layer. This not only provides the energy needed to survive but also helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Concluding Summary: Benefits and Drawbacks to Animals Eating Tree Barks
In conclusion, consuming tree bark is an important dietary component for many wild animals and offers numerous nutritional benefits depending on which species it’s being consumed by—such as providing higher concentrations of proteins for deer or vitamins A & B12 for bears. However, there are potential drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration such as stripping away protective layers from trees, preventing proper photosynthesis from occurring, or causing permanent damage if done excessively. Fortunately, there are several ways to deter wildlife from eating tree bark including using physical barriers like wire mesh fences, spraying repellants onto surfaces, or providing alternate food sources.