Experts warn not to feed pumpkin to animals

ANIMAL experts have called for people not to feed pumpkins to wild animals now that Halloween is over.

The warning has come after a number of posts on social media started circulating telling people to take their pumpkins to wild spaces for animals to eat after Halloween celebrations were over.


However, other posts said people should not leave pumpkins outside of their homes as hedgehogs can eat them and get sick.

With the conflicting ‘advice’ gaining traction across the internet, let's hear from some animal experts to find out what we should really do with our leftover pumpkins.

Pumpkins and hedgehogs:

PDSA veterinary nurse, Anna Ewers-Clarke, said: “Although pumpkins can be great fun decorations, it’s best to keep them out of reach for our furry friends, and dispose of them safely once Halloween is over.

“Pumpkins aren’t toxic to pets, but eating large quantities could lead to stomach upsets. The candles inside the decorations can also pose a danger, so it’s best to keep them out of reach from curious paws. Even if you don’t have pets yourself, they can be a hazard to wild animals – try to move your pumpkin inside overnight when cats and many wild animals can be more active and looking for food.

“Pumpkins will often go off after a few days especially if the weather is warmer. As mouldy food can pose hazards to animals, it’s important to dispose of your pumpkin in a safe, secure bin or compost bin once the festivities are over.”

A Dorset Wildlife Trust spokesperson said: “Pumpkins aren’t something we would recommend feeding to hedgehogs (we would only recommend feeding meaty cat or dog food, or a specific hedgehog food with protein high on the list of ingredients).

“I can’t confirm what effect it would have on them but would expect it to have relatively high levels of sugar which wouldn’t be good for their health and leaving decomposing food out in the open is also likely to attract rats.”

Pumpkins and other wild animals:

In regards to taking pumpkins to the forest or other spaces in nature for wild animals to eat, the spokesperson said: “Please do not take leftover pumpkins to nature reserves or other wild places.

“Wildlife that may benefit from pumpkin leftovers are garden birds, who may enjoy the seeds. We’d recommend saving the seeds from your pumpkin, drying them in the oven at 180C, and putting them in your usual bird feeder.

“The best use for pumpkin flesh is to cook and eat it ourselves. However, if the pumpkin has gone bad by the time Halloween is over, you could try chopping it up into small pieces and burying these in the garden (25cm or deeper), where worms and other insects can then digest it and in turn, enrich the soil.

“Similarly, chopping up the pumpkin and adding it to your compost heap is another good option. Take care to remove all seeds before doing this to avoid accidentally growing pumpkin plants. If your local waste collections include a specific food waste bin, that is the next best approach."