Which trees do squirrels and rabbits eat most? Only delicate and thin leafed trees?

Which trees do squirrels and rabbits eat most? Only delicate and thin leafed trees?

All of my young Japanese maple saplings have been getting eaten lately.
Sometimes my young garden/in-ground ume, persimmon and nandina too (but not nearly as bad as my maples and only a very few twigs and leaves were eaten from the ume/persimmon).

I thought it was rabbits at first (we have tons of them roaming around at night); so, I installed 3’ tall hardware-cloth on my 2 front/side-yard fences (the only entrance point, the rest of the house is surrounded by brick walls). I also propped up all my J maples and other young saplings on top of upside-down nursery pots, so the soil line is now +2.5’ high and too high for rabbits.
But, my maples were attacked again when I inspected them this morning! Also, my 6’ tall old nandina.

So, I think it is not just rabbits, but also squirrels, since they can actually climb. I rarely see squirrels around here compared to the past, but I still see them a few times per year (we don’t have any chipmunks… or, at least I have never seen one around here for 30 years).

But, I am wondering why, my other pre-bonsai and other trees/plants are left alone - black pines, junipers, satsuki/kurume azaleas, and also other trees/plants and succulents.

Do rabbits and squirrels only prefer delicate and thin leafed trees and plants? I would think they would’ve eaten my Azaleas too, because the leaves are relatively thin; but they haven’t touched them at all and they are right next to my maples.

Do any of you have your azaleas eaten by rabbits/squirrels?
I’m thinking I should maybe get more azaleas instead of maples, if that is the case.

Maybe I wlll avoid buying or growing maples in the future, if that is the specific tree they love to eat.

They also haven’t touched any of my confiers, pines, junipers (I assume the foliage is too sharp and also the sap is strong smelling and too sticky).

Personally i have not had any damage from rabbits or squirrels with tree’s. I have used wire to protect areas with seedlings. The wire needs to be quite small diameter openings and protected at ground level. The so called rabbit wire that gets larger openings as it progresses upward does not work. They just hop up and through the larger openings. At the bottom i use large rocks to discourage digging or squeezing under.
However, rabbits do a lot of damage to soft leaved shrubs in our landscape beds. The only damage i can attribute to squirrels is digging in some pots. The attraction was organic fertilizer with cotton seed meal base. Since i switched to Neem Meal as the base for my organic fertiliser that has stopped.
In your case I would suspect the rabbits are going through or under the wire! It is amazing the small spaces they can squeeze through!

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I didn’t use the cheaper/thinner chicken/rabbit wire fence with the bigger holes… I used hardware-cloth wire fence with small 1/2" square openings.

I also installed it so there’s no opening at the bottom to squeeze through. I also have concrete (one side yard) or 2-3" big landscape pebbles and 3" deep of gravel (the other side yard)… so I don’t think they could/would dig through that.

The newest bite marks on my maple and bit off branches are 4’ above grade/ground… so I don’t think it was a rabbit. The nandina, 4-5’ above grade. It had to be something that could climb. The maple was next to a brick wall… so I’m thinking a squirrel could’ve just clung on to the wall while eating it. My persimmon also had bite marks 4-5’ above grade.

Ah, yeah… I’ve heard they dig into pots, esp with organic ferts. Luckily, they havent dig into my pots yet.
I use a lot of pumice, and I heard they don’t like digging into pumice because it’s sharp. I also use chemical ferts only, that has a lot of iron and sulfer in it. So maybe they don’t like that either.

Do you have any deer in the area? They are notorious for sampling new growth.

No deer.
I think if it was deer, the entire tree would be gone lol (most of my trees are only pencil-thick saplings)

Well i have hundreds of maples in grow beds from seedlings to 3 inch trunks! Never had a bite mark from squirrels or anything else within the confines of my Bonsai nursery. Lots of squirrels in and out, they usually just spend time giving me the gears from nearby trees.
Not sure where you live but maybe there are exotic creatures lurking nearby.
I would be curious to hear when you find the culprit? Have to set up a motion detector critter cam.

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Got this stuff. They all use putrified-eggs and garlic-oil as active ingredients… but I chose the right one (Critter Ridder) because it lists even more stuff that varmints don’t like … hot peppers, dried blood and more random oils. Lol