Halloween is a time for costumes, candy, and all things spooky. At wildlife conservation facilities and zoos, it can also be an opportunity to provide some fun seasonal enrichment to the resident animals. In particular, pumpkins are a nutritious and fun pick to add to the diets of omnivores and herbivores.
Enrichment plays a pivotal role in the well-being of animals in human care. It’s all about providing resident animals with stimulating activities and experiences that mimic their natural behaviors and environments. For animals like porcupines, who are herbivores, enrichment activities often revolve around their diet and foraging instincts. As it turns out, pumpkins are the perfect choice. Pumpkins can be carved, stuffed with tasty treats, and used as a vessel like a puzzle feeder.
Pumpkins are synonymous with fall and its many festivities, and they also make an excellent addition to a porcupine’s diet. They’re not only tasty but packed with vitamins and fiber. When offered to animals in human care, pumpkins serve as both a mental and physical challenge, promoting exercise and keeping the animals’ minds engaged.
We are home to four North American porcupines: Kit Kat, Twix, Heath, and Baby Ruth. Each has a unique personality, and their reactions to enrichment are equally distinctive. The process of figuring out how to access the delicious insides of the pumpkin challenged the porcupines’ problem-solving skills. Pumpkin enrichment for the resident porcupines at AWCC is always a memorable and enriching experience for the animals and those fortunate enough to witness it. As we embrace the autumn season, it’s essential to remember the significance of providing enrichment for wildlife in human care. The AWCC continues to be a shining example of how enriching the lives of animals in human care contributes to their overall health and happiness. So, the next time you carve a pumpkin, consider donating it to AWCC! We take donations of carved and uncarved pumpkins all year long. Please call ahead to make these donations. For a full list of food items we take donations of, please visit our food donation page.