Do Deer Eat Pumpkins? Everything You Need To Know

Pumpkins that deer eat

It’s quite common for people to wonder if deer eat pumpkins, because it’s normal to leave these tasty foods outside on your property!

This guide will cover if deer eat pumpkins, if they’re good for these animals, and how to stop them (if you want to).

Do Deer Eat Pumpkins?

Deer are some of the most majestic creatures you might see in your backyard. They often appear in the early morning and are so skittish that observing them isn’t always easy. So when you’re lucky enough to spot one, relish the moment!

If you’ve ever wondered why deer enter your property, it’s likely because they’re searching for food. Deer have a diverse diet that includes everything from crop vegetables to grass and nuts. 

But do deer eat pumpkins?

Deer sightings tend to spike in the fall. It’s their breeding season, so the animals are “out and about” more often than in other parts of the year. The timing coincides with the harvesting of pumpkins. The winter squash thrives during this time, and it’s when most fruits are ready to pluck from the vine.

A deer eating a pumpkin

As a result, many homeowners wonder if deer will eat pumpkins they have on their property. Whether you’re worried about them eating your precious pumpkin plants or you want to know if it’s a good treat to leave out after Halloween festivities, it’s an excellent question to ask.

Deer do indeed eat pumpkins. Most deer primarily love to feast on the aromatic and flavorful flesh inside.

It’s not their go-to source of food of course. Deer won’t go out of their way to consume pumpkins if there are other foods available. But it’s certainly a treat they’ll enjoy if they come across it!

Are Pumpkins Good For Deer Or Not?

Don’t worry pumpkins are perfectly safe for these animals to eat. In fact, pumpkins can actually be good for deer.

People love pumpkins because they’re a high-fiber crop that helps keep the digestive system in check. Deer will eat pumpkins for the same reason. The guts are particularly beneficial, as they contain most of the good stuff!

It’s where the vitamins and nutrients are most concentrated. Pumpkin is chock-full of Vitamins A, C, D, and E. It also contains minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper. 

All of those vitamins and nutrients are essential to a deer’s health. They might not realize its importance, but it’s quite good for them!

It’s a great food to eat. Deer don’t get to eat pumpkins regularly, so it’s a real treat. The boost of nutrients can also come in handy as winter rolls around. 

These animals don’t go into full-blown hibernation mode but are often less active as the cooler temperatures roll around. The nutritional content of pumpkins can keep them going and fulfill some deficiencies they might experience due to a lack of food scarcity.

Will Growing Pumpkins Attract Deer To Your Yard?

Whether or not deer will become an issue for you as a gardener depends on what’s available.

Pumpkin plants alone can attract deer to your garden. The smell is aromatic before the fruits even come. These animals also feast on parts of the plant other than the pumpkin itself (more on that later).

For this reason, growing pumpkins can attract deer to your property. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you! Many gardeners who grow massive pumpkin patches will spend the growing season chasing these animals away. But for others, it’s a welcome visit!

Now, there are no guarantees either way. As mentioned earlier, deer eat various plants and nuts for sustenance. They don’t rely on eating pumpkins alone to survive.

Therefore, pumpkin patches don’t always attract deer. If other food items are abundant, deer might not gravitate towards your backyard patch. They could come in to investigate if they stumble upon your yard while roaming the neighborhood, but the smell isn’t enough to create an insatiable urge to risk their safety.

There are so many things around to eat. Sometimes, deer won’t even pay your patch any attention. It all depends on what’s around.

Ways To Prevent Deer From Eating Pumpkin Plants

If deer are eating your pumpkins and you want them to stop, there are ways to deter them. Growing pumpkins in your garden isn’t easy, so there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep these animals out!

Fortunately, this is pretty easy. Deer are notoriously skittish and will flee the moment they detect trouble. Use that fact to your advantage!

The easiest method to stop deer from eating pumpkins is to create a physical barrier. You can use traditional fencing, but it’s not necessary. Pumpkin vines can grow up to 30 feet long, so it can get expensive to protect these plants.

A cost-effective alternative to traditional fencing is a fishing line. Drive several wooden stakes into the soil around your pumpkin plant. Then, use the fishing line to web it across the stakes and create a modest physical barrier.

You’ll probably look at that simple fence and wonder how it keeps deer out. Deer don’t need much to get scared. When the fishing line touches their leg, neck, or head, it’s enough to frighten them off.

If you prefer a less obtrusive option, you can use scent deterrents. Use a product that contains urine or pheromones of a predator animal, such as a wolf, and you can see great success. Deer won’t venture near the area if they think that a predator is near.

You can also think about using motion-detection lights or sprinklers. They’ll turn on when the deer gets near, stopping them from eating your pumpkins.

Do Deer Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Deer love to eat pumpkin seeds! The stringy guts you pull out when making a jack o’ lantern is the part they seem to adore most!

The seeds and stringy bits are full of flavor. They’re the most nutritious, too. You’ll notice that deer will do what they can to break through the tough pumpkin shell to consume the softer innards.

Deer will also eat the seeds alone. These animals often eat nuts and acorns, so the rigid shell isn’t an issue.

Seeds are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. The fatty acids can support skin and coat health. They also strengthen bones, keep the reproductive organs in good shape, and maintain the metabolism.

Needless to say, omega-6 fatty acids are essential. But, foods rich in those fatty acids can be scarce during winter. As a result, pumpkin seeds become a potent commodity the deer need to stay healthy.

Do Deer Eat Pumpkin Flowers?

The pumpkin fruit is full of fiber and nutrients. It’s also very filling.

However, it’s not the only part of a pumpkin that deer love to eat. They also consume the flowers!

During the summer, deer will often focus their sights on the leaves and flowers of the pumpkin plant. Most pumpkin varieties don’t produce fruit until the autumn season. But, blooms and flowers are usually pretty abundant.

The flowers are super tasty to deer. They’re sweet, soft, and easy to consume. The same goes for the large leaves.

The summer is when deer can get problematic for farmers and backyard gardeners. If they have easy access to the plants, deer can wipe out entire patches by feeding on the leaves and flowers! Unfortunately, that effectively kills the plant and ruins your chances of a bountiful harvest.

Try the tips we went over earlier to prevent the deer from eating your pumpkins.

Interestingly enough, the vine is the only part that deer don’t seem to enjoy. They’ll eat the flowers and leaves, but most will avoid the tough vine.

Will Deer Eat Pumpkin Skin?

Deer will eat pumpkin skin. However, it’s usually a means to the end rather than the main focus.

The skin, also called the rind, is more challenging to eat. It’s tough and chewy, making it less appealing than that fibrous goodness inside the pumpkin. Furthermore, the rinds aren’t nearly as nutritious as what the deer can get elsewhere on the plant.

You might see deer eating through the skin. But, it’s not what they enjoy indulging in. Usually, eating the rind is a way to get through to the inside and nothing more. Many will eat the innards and leave the shell behind.

However, you shouldn’t clean up that mess. You might stumble upon a bunch of rinds and assume you must toss it in your compost. But leave those pumpkin skins just in case.

Pumpkins are some of the last indulgent foods deer will get during the year. They eat them during the breeding season that occurs before winter rolls around.

Once the temperature drops, food sources become scarce. It’s not enough for the deer to starve, but they will begin to consider other foods.

That means many deer will return to the skins they discarded earlier. At this point, the pumpkin skin has broken down a bit. It’s softer and much easier to eat. 

While still not as nutritious or tasty, deer often eat the pumpkin skins due to the lack of available vegetation. The skin is an excellent source of fiber, and they’ll eat it to stay healthy because nothing else is available.

Tips For Feeding Deer Pumpkins

Want to feed pumpkins to deer? These animals will love the handout!

If this is your goal, the best thing to do is find a location that deer frequent. Avoid leaving out pumpkins close to your home. You want the deer to feel safe enough to chow down.

Pick a spot far away in an open field.

Then, cut the pumpkin into large chunks. Make it easy for the deer to access the soft innards they want. 

If you’re providing an old jack o’ lantern, wash it thoroughly. Remove any wax and cut away any parts with glue, glitter, paint, and other craft supplies.


Deer eat pumpkins, and they enjoy them quite a bit! For some people this isn’t an issue, but for others it’s something they want to stop.

No matter which one you are, this guide has you covered. Simply bookmark it and refer back in the future if needed!s

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