Growers can discover the identity of the animal eating their tomato plants by inspecting the damage left behind. For example, squirrels eat the juicy fruit off of the vine, but they leave most of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, intact. In contrast, rabbits are interested in the foliage, according to SFGate.com, and they are known to eat the leaves off the plant while leaving the fruit intact. Other animals, such as deer and woodchucks, are less discriminating, and they eat the entire tomato plant. Deer are especially notorious for the destruction they leave behind because they are large and heavy. They also leave hoof prints in the soil surrounding the plants.
Small predators and pests also eat tomato plants. Aphids, cutworms and other tiny insects can cause major destruction to a tomato plant, as Planet Natural explains. These microscopic bugs can be so difficult to control that they overwhelm the plant and cause disease or malnourishment. Caterpillars and beetles, though easier to see, can destroy large portions of the stems and leaves in one meal, devastating the plant.Learn more about Outdoor Plants & Flowers