What Animals Eat Pumpkins? (+ 9 Ways to Keep Them Away)

Whether you’re growing a pumpkin patch or just want to keep your jack-o-lantern looking “fresh” for a while, you’ll want to keep in mind which animals eat pumpkins so you can keep them from destroying them.

Here are some of the more common animals that eat pumpkins.

Squirrels

Squirrels are the most notorious pumpkin eater in my garden. They are relentless when it comes to scratching through the rind and getting into the middle for the seeds.

They take the seeds, and leave a mess behind, which is fun for me as the gardener to clean up. Plus, if I don’t see it right away, the smells of the fresh pumpkin can attract other wild animals and other pests to the area.

Some of the best ways to keep squirrels away from your pumpkins are:

  • Cayenne pepper spray
  • Deer netting

Deer

deer eating pumpkins

Deer love eating pumpkins.

You’ll know if you have a deer problem on your hands if most of the pumpkin is gone. While squirrels and birds will leave small traces of their destruction behind, because deer are large animals, they will likely flatten the vines and leaves while trying to get to the pumpkins.

You can check out this post on deer eating pumpkins and prevention there as well.

Some of the best ways to keep deer away from your pumpkins are:

birds eating sunflowers

Birds

Birds are another animal that loves eating pumpkin seeds.

Some of the best ways to keep birds away from your pumpkins are:

  • Bird netting / deer netting
  • Row covers

Chipmunks

chipmunks eating sunflower plants

Chipmunks love sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds alike. It’s no surprise that they’d love to get their hands on a small pumpkin to feast on!

Groundhogs

groundhogs

These pesky critters are known to enjoy munching on pumpkins, and they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. In fact, a single groundhog can eat up to four pounds of pumpkin per day.

Rabbits

rabbit burrow

Rabbits are well known for their love of greens, but they’ll also enjoy a few slices of pumpkin every now and then. While pumpkins are not a necessary part of a rabbit’s diet, they can be a healthy treat that provides some extra nutrients.

Mice & Voles

voles

Mice and voles are notorious garden destruction experts. While too small to eat a pumpkin whole, they will use their sharp teeth and claws to create holes in the pumpkin and get to the inside and seeds.

The fruit left behind is then fair game for other insects and animals in search of a snack.

Chickens & Other Barn Animals

chickens eating pumpkins

While not usually running around as wild animals, if you leave the chickens unattended near your pumpkin patch you are going to be a little upset with them.

Chickens can peck holes into the side of a whole pumpkin and eat the seeds and flesh.

Alternatively, if you have leftover pumpkins during the fall season, you can feed pieces of pumpkin to your chickens.

Chickens aren’t the only farm animal interested in feeding on your leftover pumpkins:

  • Sheep
  • Cows
  • Goats
  • Livestock

And don’t forget your pets too! Pumpkin is known to help calm an upset stomach for dogs as well.

How to Keep Animals From Eating Your Pumpkins

A lot of animals are drawn to fresh pumpkins, but others are more interested in the pumpkin seeds. No matter which animals you’re trying to keep out, most of them can be kept at bay with the following methods.

1. Motion-Activated Sprinkler

A lot of animals, especially deer and squirrels are known to be skiddish, so hearing loud noises and seeing a lot of movement can scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler can absolutely do the trick.

Make sure you setup a trail cam to watch all the animals run as fast as they can away from your garden 🙂

The Garden Enforcer - Motion Activated Sprinkler

A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.


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2. Fencing

One of the best ways to protect your plants is to put up a fence around them. This will keep the animals out and allow the plants to grow without being eaten.

Deer can easily jump short fences, so if you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to put up a fence that is at least 7-8 feet tall.

A wireless rabbit fence can also help keep out animals like rabbits, raccoons, and more.

3. Bird or Deer Netting

While it’s called deer netting, it works well on rabbits, squirrels, and birds as well.

If the netting is setup the right way, it can keep animals out. But if you just set it up the same way you would a fence, they can easily jump it. It really should be placed overtop the garden, instead of as a fence.

Deer & Garden Netting Kit

Garden netting helps keep animals from ravaging your garden:

  • Deer
  • Birds
  • Squirrels
  • And more
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4. Repellent Sprays

This stuff is pretty gross, and no wonder rotten eggs work to keep animals out. The main ingredient in this popular spray is whole egg, followed by garlic and cloves. Gross, but those pungent smells really do help repel animals.

5. Companion Planting

When it comes to growing pumpkins, having the right companions can make all the difference. Companion planting is a technique that involves carefully pairing specific plants in order to support one another and boost yields.

When used with pumpkins, this technique can help to improve pollination, deter pests, retain moisture in the soil, and reduce competition for nutrients.

Some of the best companion plants for pumpkin include legumes like soybeans and peas, floral plants like sunflowers and marigolds, and herbs like chives and mint. By understanding these natural relationships, any gardener can have a bountiful harvest of healthy pumpkins year after year.

Some pest resistant plants include:

  • Alliums like Garlic and onions
  • Lavender
  • Herbs like sage, rosemary, and dill

Many animals are not fans of strong smells, and that’s exactly what garlic offers. Fend Off Sticks have a strong garlic odor which is great as pest repellents, making it a great option for keeping animals away.

6. Nylon Stockings with Soap

Got some extra Irish Spring soap laying around? Add it inside of a nylon stocking and hang it from a nearby tree branch. This scent is quite good at keeping animals (especially deer) out of the area.

7. Plastic Owl or Scarecrow

Placing a fake predator nearby can help keep animals from ravaging your pumpkin patch. While this alone isn’t going to stop them from eating an entire pumpkin, it will help discourage animals along with red cat eyes or strong odors.

Plastic Owl Scarecrow Sculpture

Fake owls are great for keeping many animals out of the garden, including squirrels, deer, birds, and more.

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8. Hot Pepper Spray

Similar to the repellent above, hot pepper sprays are great for keeping them out of your pumpkin plants. Spraying my pumpkins with cayenne pepper spray is one of the more effective methods I’ve found.

9. Get Rid of the Bird Bath or Bird Feeder

If you have a birdbath in your backyard or garden, not only is it attracting birds, but also other animals can use it as a water source. Once they’re nearby, they’ll realize there is some free food nearby. Take away the water, and you can help ease some of the damage.

Animals Love to Eat Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of the backyard favorites for many wildlife animals. Squirrels, deer, and birds are some of the more common culprits of pumpkin damage.

The moral of the story here is to not leave leftover pumpkins from Halloween or the garden attended for long!

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AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

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