Repairing bark damage from voles/rabbits

Asked April 27, 2019, 10:14 PM EDT


I have a 12-year-old maple tree that got attached either by voles or rabbits this winter. A portion of the bark got eaten away about six inches off the ground. I would estimate bark removal at about 20 percent of the way around the tree. What's the best way to help the tree repair itself? I'm reading things online about wound paints/dressings, but a lot of it is conflicting information. Any help is appreciated.


Cass County North Dakota

1 Response

Good morning,

There are multiple ways to help a tree repair itself. Most important is to prevent further damage. Sometimes this involves putting up a fence or some other obstruction to keep away rabbits/voles/mice or even lawn mowers and string trimmers. Sapsuckers (birds) can also cause damage, though usually that's higher up on the stem. In general, keep the tree otherwise healthy by preventing drought stress, insects, diseases or other pest problems.

Sometimes a tree will send up sprouts (suckers) in response to a wound. These sprouts will also help in the repair process by providing sugar (produced in photosynthesis) to the wounded area or to the roots so that they can continue to grow. Depending on the rate of wound closure, you may want to keep these sprouts for 2-3 years before removing them.

Regarding wound dressings, I have yet to see any scientific evidence of their increasing the rate of wound closure. And there is very, very limited evidence about the ability of these products to prevent future pest problems. Some products can even harm trees.

I hope this answers your question. Best wishes with your tree.