Plant leaves

Possum

Possums are messy eaters and the ground beneath a tree is often littered with partially eaten leaves.  Possum chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten.  They only eat the leaf-stalks of some species, like fivefinger.  Possum preferred species include pohutukawa, rata, kohekohe, tree fuchsia, totara, mahoe, heketara, toro, tutu, mamaku, kamahi, pahautea, pine (exotic) and many other species.  They don’t like pigeonwood.

Possum veg confuse sqx100Can be confused with:

Many other species like deer, goats and farm animals.  Birds like kereru can also strip leaves from a tree and cause ragged edges.  However kereru bites have round tips. Insects can also damage leaves.

 

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Rabbit (European)

Rabbits like to eat leafy vegetation and will nibble tender leaves away from stems. This is often seen in gardens, but also in vegetable crops.

Can be confused with:

Other larger herbivorous (plant eating) animals like deer and goats may leave more ragged plants. Slugs and snails also eat the tender part of leaves, but they leave a distinctive slime trail as evidence.  Caterpillars can also completely strip a plant, but any remaining leaves will have holes rather than chew marks.

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Brown hare

Hares can cause severe damage when browsing leaves and stems of young seedlings and shrubs. Damage is likely to be within 1.0 m of the ground. Leaves, especially if young and tender, can be stripped off completely and stems nipped off on an angle – usually at a 450, similar to a rabbit. Hares will often come back and browse the same plants again, which can result in fatal damage.

Hares (and rabbits) have an unusual arrangement of upper teeth consisting of a pair of gnawing ‘aradicular hypsodont’ teeth (which grow continuously) with a pair of peg teeth hidden behind. This double pair of upper teeth is found only in rabbits and hares and they cause a very distinctive 450 angle cut on browsed vegetation.

Can be confused with:

Hare browse can be difficult to distinguish from rabbit browse. Other larger herbivorous (plant eating) animals like deer, goats, chamois, wallaby and sheep tend to leave more ragged plant damage without the distinctive 450 bite of the stem. Slugs and snails also eat the tender part of leaves, which can often be detected by their distinctive slime trail. Caterpillars can also completely strip a plant, but any remaining leaves will have holes rather than chew marks and their droppings may be noticeable.

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Dama wallaby

Due to the small size of dama wallaby (height about 0.5 m), they typically browse seedlings, saplings ferns and grasses that are below 1 m. Like other herbivorous mammals they can bite off part of a leaf, or a whole leaf. The feeding sign is not particularly distinctive.

Can be confused with:

Leaf browse by dama wallabies can be confused with browse by deer, feral goats and livestock.

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Bennett's (red-necked) wallaby

Bennett's wallaby browsing on foliage is indistiguishable from that of most otehr mammalian herbivores that occur in the same area, although signs of feeding on the large daisy, Celmisia spectabilis, can indicate Bennett’s wallabies rather than sheep, which tend not to eat it. 

Can be confused with:

Deer, sheep or goats, all of which occur in the Bennett's wallaby habitat in South Canterbury. Deer and goats may also eat the large daisy, Celmisia spectabilis.

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Goat

Goats are browsers and usually leave cleanly cut leaves and shoots as feeding sign. However, when the stems are too tough to bite through they can be torn off leaving ragged wood fibre edges.

Can be confused with:
Goat feeding sign is difficult to distinguish from that of other browsing herbivores such as deer, and sheep, and wallabies where these occur.

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Chamois

There is very little information available about specific characteristics that help identify chamois leaf browse. It is likely to look similar to that of deer and other ungulates (hoofed mammals). In the alpine and subalpine zones chamois seem to prefer native tussocks, grasses and herbs with fleshy leaves. Damage to herbaceous species may show several leaves eaten back to the stem and other leaves bitten in half. Alpine grasses may be ripped and pulled, with the tillers (a tuft of grass leaves or stems) sometimes eaten back to the base of the tussock. Native forest species particularly palatable to chamois include broadleaf (Griselinia littoralis) and kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa).  Chamois seem to have a greater preference for woody vegetation than tahr.

Can be confused with:

Where chamois distribution overlaps with that of tahr, red deer, sheep, cows, or feral goats, their browse sign will be difficult to tell apart from these species.

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Himalayan Tahr (thar)

Snow tussocks and alpine herbs are a significant component of Himalayan tahr diet. They are known to eat tussock (Chionochloa spp.), native broom (Carmichaelia spp.) and Mount Cook buttercup (Ranunculus lyallii). No distinctive chewing or biting characteristics are known to distinguish their browse from other grazing animals so if you find signs of grazing in their known range, look also for other signs (such as droppings and herd sightings).

Can be confused with:

Browse by Himalayan tahr on leaves can be confused for the browse of chamois, red deer, sheep, brushtail possums and brown hare, all of which co-exist with tahr over much of their range. Possum browse on the leaves of some shrub species might be distinguishable as possums often leave the midrib uneaten.

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Fallow deer

When fallow deer have been browsing leaves, several of the leaves will be removed from the stem, while some remaining leaves will have been chomped in half.

Can be confused with:
Fallow deer browse is difficult to distinguish from the browsing of other species of deer, goats, sheep or cows. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area.

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Sika deer

When sika deer have been browsing leaves, several of the leaves will be removed from the stem, and some remaining leaves will have been bitten in half.

Can be confused with:
Sika deer browse is difficult to distinguish from the browse of other species of deer, goats, or sheep. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area, and looking for footprints, droppings, and tufts of fur left behind.

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Rusa (Javan) deer

When rusa deer have been browsing leaves, several of the leaves will be completely removed from the stem, and some remaining leaves will have been bitten in half.

Can be confused with:
Rusa deer browse is difficult to distinguish from browsing by other species of deer, and from browsing by goats, sheep or cows. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area, and looking for footprints and droppings.

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White-tailed deer

When white-tailed deer have been browsing leaves, several of the leaves will be removed from the stem, and some remaining leaves will have been bitten in half.

Can be confused with:
White-tailed deer browse is difficult to distinguish from the browse of other deer species, goat, and sheep. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area, and looking for footprints and droppings.

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Red deer

When red deer have been browsing leaves, several of the leaves will be removed from the stem and some remaining leaves will have been bitten in half.

Can be confused with:
Red deer browse is difficult to distinguish from other species of deer, goats, sheep or cows. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area, and looking for footprints and droppings.

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Wapiti

Plants browsed by wapiti have a ragged or torn look and leaves may also have been bitten in half.

Can be confused with:

Wapiti browse is difficult to distinguish from other species of deer, and from goats, sheep or cows. Often the best way of determining which species has been browsing leaves in an area is through a process of elimination i.e. by determining which species inhabit the area, and looking for footprints and droppings.

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Hedgehog

Analysis of hedgehog stomach contents in New Zealand often found some vegetation, especially mosses, grass and clover leaves, dead podocarp leaves, occasional seeds (mainly grass seed), and berry seeds.

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