Deer love eating pumpkins and flowers from pumpkin plants but they aren’t fans of the fuzzy vines. They are most interested in the pumpkin guts.
Deer are known to love pumpkin. They are especially attracted by the fleshy gut part because of its delicious taste.
They are also attracted by the bright orange color of ripe pumpkin that makes it visible from afar. Deer have a good sense of smell and can smell the smashed fruit from far away.
However, pumpkin is not their number one preferred food. Deer especially love eating other foods like berries, acorns and apples which are more attractive than pumpkin to them. They will eat pumpkin when the opportunity arises.
What Part of Pumpkin Plants do Deer like the Most?
Deer prefer eating pumpkin flesh the most, since they don’t have upper incisors to chew through the tough outer skin.
Deer love pumpkin guts because they are soft and spongy thus are easy to chew and swallow. The fact that the guts are easy to chew and swallow makes them easier to digest compared to the hard shell of the pumpkin.
When planning to feed pumpkin to deer, it is advisable to break open the fruit to expose the soft insides. Deer have a hard time breaking open the shells and might give up and leave the whole fruit on the ground.
Deer have only one set of incisors and have a hard time trying to gnaw on the hard shell. The also cannot break open the tough shells with their antlers or hooves easily.
Since pumpkins are very much loved by deer, it is advisable not to throw the leftovers into the trash. That would be wasting good animal food. Instead take guts outside where you have seen deer wandering around and leave them for the animals.
This might help save the deer from starving especially during winter when food is scarce for wild deer.
What Parts of Pumpkin Plants do Deer hate the Most?
Deer don’t like the vines because they’re too chewy and fuzzy. They also don’t like the hard coat on pumpkins. They opt for the softer fleshier guts found inside the shell.
Deer don’t like feeding on the outer shell of pumpkin because it is hard to chew and swallow. Deer only have two pairs of incisors on the lower jaw and it makes it hard two gnaw on the hard-outer coat of pumpkins.
Several studies have shown that deer are most likely to leave an uncut pumpkin because it is hard to access the softer sweet guts found on the inside. The shell is hard and can’t be broken easily using their hooves or antlers. They also give up trying to gnaw on the hard shell and end up leaving the whole fruit. It is advisable to cut open the fruit before feeding it to the animal.
Related: Are Deer Carnivores?
Do Deer Like Ripe Pumpkin?
Ripe pumpkin is bright orange in color and end up attracting the animal. Ripe pumpkin also emits a sweet scent that attracts the animal. They also taste better when ripe and are softer and easier to chew.
However, when raw pumpkin shells are harder to break hence unattractive to deer. The guts are also not as soft and fleshy as when ripe. They also don’t omit the switch odor of ripe pumpkin. Deer may smell and even try unripe pumpkin but are highly unlikely to finish them.
Are Pumpkins Healthy for Deer?
Pumpkins are healthy for deer. They contain a lot of nutrients and minerals that are very healthy for the animal.
Pumpkins are rich in fiber content. Fiber is very helpful to animals especially when it comes to digesting food. Fiber is known to enhance food digestion and aid in the passing out of waste.
Pumpkin also contains nutrients like vitamin C, A and vitamin B. These are especially helpful in the development of the animal.
Pumpkins also contain various minerals like magnesium, iron, cobalamin, potassium, sodium and calcium. All these minerals are helpful in deer body functions like development of bones and production of blood.
Pumpkins are also good for adding calories. Research shows that one can gain up to 26 calories out of 100 grams of one pumpkin serving. This is especially helpful for the deer to gain energy and store enough food in their body as winter approaches.
Where can Deer get Pumpkin to Eat?
Deer feed on pumpkin that is left over from humans, and on pumpkin plants which are extensively farmed across Europe and North America.
Deer have an excellent sense of smell. It is considered to be as good as that of a dog. They can smell ripe pumpkins from miles away and go out looking for them. During holidays like Halloween people complain of their jack’o lanterns being eaten by wild animals. Deer are usually the main culprit for this.
Deer will also smell thrown away pumpkins in trash cans. They will go to the bin topple it and forage through the trash to find the thrown away pumpkin guts. They will then feed on these.
Deer are also known to break into farms and eat pumpkin straight from the farm. They use their hooves to break open ripe pumpkin and feed on their fleshy guts. For this they are considered a nuisance by farmers whose pumpkin yield lowers because of deer interference.
Can Pumpkins Cause Health Problems to Deer?
Pumpkin does not cause any kind of problems when ingested by deer. They are in fact very healthy and beneficial to the deer’s bodily functions.
Pumpkin contain various nutrients like vitamins that are helpful in the normal bodily functions of the deer. When nutrient deprived deer will often feed on pumpkin to gain whatever nutrient is required by its body.
Pumpkin also contains various minerals that are responsible for the development of the body. Pumpkin contain calcium that is especially helpful for the growth of antlers in male deer as mating season approaches.
Pumpkin also have a lot of calories. This is especially helpful for male deer to gain weight to have an advantage over other males during mating season. The calories are also important as winter approaches because they can be stored in the body and used later when food is scarce.
Pumpkin seeds also contain a lot of healthy unsaturated fats. They unsaturated fats are known to promote the development of a healthy heart.
Research shows that the seed oils also help reduce cholesterol in the body and have anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial to the animal.
Deer like to eat the flowers from pumpkin plants and the guts of pumpkins. They don’t like the hard exterior of pumpkins and don’t like to eat the vines. Deer will be attracted to your pumpkin patch and will be able to sniff it out, so make sure to erect deer proof fencing to protect your vegetables!
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.