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Pumpkin Dumping – A Halloween Horror for Hedgehogs

Published on: 30 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 2 Nov, 2022

The Woodland Trust has issued an urgent plea to witches, wizards and spooks everywhere not to endanger wildlife by dumping pumpkins in woodland.

Woodland Trust photo of a decaying dumped pumpkin in the Sea Wood SSSI in Cumbria in 2021.

“A myth seems to have built up that leaving pumpkins in woods helps wildlife,” said Paul Bunton, Engagement and Communication Officer at Woodland Trust.

“But pumpkin flesh can be dangerous for hedgehogs, attracts colonies of rats and also has a really detrimental effect on woodland soils, plants and fungi. We are urging people everywhere to make soup or garden birdfeeders which are raised off the ground, but please don’t make a mess of the countryside!”

Trevor Weeks from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service echoed the trust’s concern over the risk to hedgehogs because, like other wildlife “they are opportunistic eaters and they spend autumn and early winter building up their fat reserves for hibernation”.

Hedgehogs – not designed to consume large quantities of fruit.

“As a result, hedgehogs can gorge themselves on easily available food like dumped pumpkins,” Weeks added. “Although not toxic to them the fleshy fibrous fruit can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea as they are not designed to eat large quantities of fruit.

“This can lead to them becoming bloated and dangerously dehydrated which in turn can be fatal. At this time of year, they can’t afford to become ill, or they may not survive the winter hibernation.”

The Woodland Trust’s Love Your Woods campaign encourages people to enjoy their visit while helping protect woods and nature for the future. Visitors can play their part by following some simple advice, including staying fire-free, staying on paths, taking dog mess and litter home and protecting wildlife by keeping dogs close.

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