Who is Eating Your Pumpkins?

October 31, 2017

Last October, I walked out my front door and found a fox squirrel with its head in one of our jack-o-lanterns. It gave me this innocent, "Who, me?" expression before taking off into the bushes:

Don't let that expression fool you. I saw this fox squirrel eating my jack-o-lantern!

A couple of days later, the pumpkins got even more attention from a few of the slugs in our yard:

This bold Ambigolimax slug did not even bother to run away when I caught it eating our pumpkin.

Are you displaying pumpkins this year? We know that they can be a seasonal delicacy for our urban wildlife, and the scientists at the NHMLA Urban Nature Research Center are wondering if you have seen any local fauna making use of your pumpkins. Please send us your observations! Add your snail and slug observations to our SLIME project, squirrels to The Southern California Squirrel Survey, and all other observations to our LA Nature Map. Or, if you prefer, email your photos to us at nature@nhm.org, and we will upload them for you.

Also, don't forget to re-use or compost those pumpkins! Birds and insects and many other animals continued to enjoy our pumpkins as we left them to rot in a corner of our garden, where they rapidly decomposed, providing us with several other wildlife observations over the next few weeks. Other animals that you might see eating pumpkins include mice, opossums, skunks, rats, racoons, and coyotes. (If you would like to recycle your pumpkins without attracting those animals to your yard, you can bury them in the ground, where they will quickly decompose and add valuable nourishment your garden.) As NHMLA Malacology Curator Jann Vendetti says, "Your rotting pumpkin just might be a source of fascinating observations." She recommends this unusual book, Rotten Pumpkin by David M. Schwartz, for your inspiration.

(Posted by: Maiz Connolly)

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