Do deer eat pumpkins? Let’s find out!

If you live in an area with a lot of deer and you’re growing pumpkins in your garden, you may be worried that the deer will eat your pumpkins at night. This article will provide information on whether or not deer eat pumpkins and ways to prevent them from doing so. Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

deer eat pumpkin

Table of Contents

Do deer eat pumpkins?

Of course, yes, deer eat pumpkins, and in fact, they love to eat them! Deer enjoy the taste of pumpkins a lot and find them extremely easy to digest. Perhaps, they’ll eat everything a pumpkin plant has to offer—the flesh, the skin, the leaves, and the seeds. They’re even fond of pumpkin blossoms!

What’s more, the scent of pumpkin flowers drives deer crazy. That is why they eat all the flowers in your garden, and you’ll be left with no pumpkins for the season. So, deer enjoy everything about pumpkins: blossoms, the fruit, the leaves, the seeds, and the young shoots.

Having said that, let’s learn more about deer feeding on pumpkins, how to find out if deer have destroyed your pumpkins, and how to keep these animals away from pumpkins.

hungry deer

Are pumpkins safe for deer to feed on?

Well, pumpkins are a great snack for deer, as they’re extremely nutritious. As deer are herbivores, and their diet is restricted to vegetation, they require a variety of vegetables, fruits, and plants to fulfil their nutritional requirements. Pumpkins are rich in vitamins and minerals, so no wonder deer love snacking on them.

Pumpkins are full of fibre, a rich source of vitamins A, B, and E, and contain various minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus. All of these vitamins and minerals are required to maintain the overall health of deer, and there is no reason for deer to avoid feeding on pumpkins.

How to find out if deer are eating the pumpkins in my garden?

If you’ve got doubt that deer are feeding on your pumpkins, you can confirm it using the following tips:

Look for deer scat. Often, deer will leave droppings near the pumpkin plant or the pumpkins. If you see small, round or oval, dark brown or black-coloured pellets of poop, you can be sure that deer have visited your garden. You can find their poop in piles near the pumpkins or the surroundings.

Examine your pumpkins. Do you see that the entire pumpkin is eaten or are the pumpkins just crushed? Don’t forget that deer is capable of eating a whole pumpkin! If they’re hungry, they generally won’t leave anything behind. Besides, they’re larger than other animals that feed on pumpkins. If you see crushed pumpkins, maybe the deer accidentally stepped on some.

Check for deer footprints. If you don’t find any droppings, that doesn’t necessarily mean that deer weren’t in your place! You should check the ground for deer footprints. It’s easy to identify deer hoof prints, because they have a distinct shape. The footprints tend to have the shape of an upside-down broken heart.

animals eat pumpkins

Is it okay/ allowed to feed pumpkins to deer?

While I say that deer love pumpkins, that doesn’t mean you should feed them. You shouldn’t feed pumpkins to deer. As deer are wild creatures, wildlife organizations don’t encourage people to feed them. In fact, feeding deer can harm their population.

While it’s difficult for some people to resist feeding deer, even if you think you’re helping the animal by satiating its hunger, you’re indirectly harming it. If you ask why, it’s because the deer will keep revisiting your house or garden. It might leave its natural habitat and become more accustomed to urban areas, which is not good for them.

Moreover, other deer may follow one deer, and they’ll start travelling in groups to urban areas. In the wild, you can see that the deer are more scattered. Alright, what will happen if they travel in groups to urban areas for food? Here are a few possibilities:

The deer are more likely to be hit, injured, or even killed by vehicles, especially at night. I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “deer in the headlights.” Well, it actually comes from the fact that the vision of these animals isn’t optimised for looking at the headlights. Deer are crepuscular animals with their night vision adapted for low light, and their eyes are completely dilated at night.

Whenever a deer happens to pass in front of a vehicle, it freezes, as the headlights momentarily blind it until the eyes actually get used to the light. Obviously, this causes many accidents, as drivers may not be quick enough to stop the vehicle before hitting the deer.

Another reason why you should feed pumpkins to deer is that diseases will spread quicker among deer. When you feed a deer, the other deer will probably know about it, and more and more deer will follow the first deer to your place. This way, if one gets sick, it will spread the disease easily to the rest, eventually harming their population.

In fact, these are a few reasons some deer species almost went extinct. What’s more, some countries legally forbid people from feeding deer!

deer in yard

How to keep deer from feeding on pumpkins?

If you’ve used your pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, you need to just keep them inside. You can display them beautifully in a front-facing window. They could be safe on a balcony, if you have one. However, if you wish to keep deer away from your pumpkin patch, it requires work.

It may take a little creativity to keep the deer from feeding on pumpkins in your garden. You have to focus on making the outdoor space of your home uncomfortable for them. As you know, deer are prey animals. So, they tend to activate their “fight or flight” instinct the moment they come across strange sounds or sudden movements. If you fill your garden with animated, noisy whistles and bells, the deer that come to taste your pumpkins will pack up and leave the place right away.

The scarecrow is an old-fashioned trick you can give a try to ward off deer. While this works initially, deer are quite smart. They generally observe your garden from afar and if there is a scarecrow fixed, they’ll soon realize that it isn’t a real person, and they’ll start coming back to your pumpkins. You can try keeping whirligigs and spinning lawn ornaments near your garden. The deer get scared by the erratic motion these items create. Windchimes are a great choice too, as deer don’t like any kind of random noise.

Installing a deer-repelling sprinkler is another effective way to keep the deer out. These sprinklers are motion-activated, and hence unpredictable, so the deer cannot figure them out. When the deer get too close, they turn on and make sputtering noises that these animals hate. Besides, they water our plants, which is an added advantage!

If you find that these measures aren’t sufficient to keep deer out of your garden, you can give them something else. You can purchase deer corn from feed stores. These animals prefer the crunch and quick energy that come from the carb-rich corn. As deer choose corn over your pumpkins, you can save your pumpkins. 

You can also buy alfalfa cubes at the feed store. In general, dehydrated alfalfa cubes are available for livestock, but deer like them as well. You can toss a few handfuls of these cubes several feet away from your garden. When the deer realize that there are better snacking choices available, they’ll spare the pumpkins in your vegetable garden.

alfalfa cubes

Do other animals like to eat pumpkins too?

While pumpkins are an excellent resource for deer, they aren’t the only animals that love to eat them. Bears are known to often get their greedy paws on pumpkins. Groundhogs also get to the pumpkins, especially if the field mice, squirrels, and chipmunks don’t feed on them first. Actually, these little creatures will nibble on the pumpkins, after which they begin to smell, and grab the attention of other animals. 

Birds also feed on busted pumpkins. They forage on pumpkin seeds like most other animals. They nibble on the flesh as well. Rabbits prefer to feed on pumpkin plants.

You should note that discarded pumpkins often attract a lot of bugs. A strong odour emanates from rotting pumpkins that 0064raw insects. If your place is going through a drought season, leftover pumpkins will attract a lot of insects just for their water content.

pumpkin plants eaten by pigs

Conclusion

Do deer eat pumpkins? Yes, deer do love eating pumpkins! Let’s recall the important points:

  • Pumpkins are a great snack for deer, as they are highly nutritious. Deer like to feed on all parts of the pumpkin plant, including the fruit, its skin, blossoms, seeds, and leaves.
  • You can tell that deer are visiting your garden to snack on your pumpkins by checking for deer scat, deer footprints, and crushed pumpkins.
  • You should not feed pumpkins to the deer that visit your place, as it does more harm than good to these animals.
  • To keep deer from feeding on your pumpkins, you can use whistles and bells, scarecrows, wind chimes, and deer-repelling sprinklers to scare them away. You can also try giving them better snacking options like alfalfa cubes and deer corn to save your pumpkins.
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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