Squirrel vs. Pumpkin | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

View all posts from Laura Stec

Squirrel vs. Pumpkin

Uploaded: Nov 6, 2015

Everybody deserves to eat, but what’s with the squirrels lately? I’ve been putting decorative pumpkins around house for years with no competition from neighbors. But this season something very different is happening – the squirrels keep attacking the pumpkins. It starts with an innocent nibble and proceeds to a total evisceration of the orange orb.

They’ve demolished 3 pumpkins around the house, and now I am seeing others around the hood suffering from the same cruel demise. I brought the remaining three survivors inside.

Hey, I don’t want to deprive anyone of a decent meal – you are more than welcome to feast AFTER Thanksgiving. But not before! Don’t mess with the decorations guys.

I wonder if this unneighborly behavior might be due to the drought? The trees don’t have enough birr to produce juicy seeds, forcing the squirrels to look for take out.

So it’s odd – why this year, and not the rest?

Local Flavor
On a happier note, if you are looking for a fun event next weekend, try the Beer and Bacon Classic. That baneful bacon has certainly gotten a bad wrap lately, but every thing in moderation. This was one of the best parties I attended last year – creative bacon- inspired, awesomesauce tastes, and a lot of local craft brews and ciders. There’s also music, games, photo opps; all while you saunter through the classic Municipal Stadium in San Jose – a perfect venue for the event. THE event for all you brocavores.

Beer and Bacon Classic
Municipal Stadium – Home of the San Jose Giants
588 East Alma Ave, San Jose
Brunch session 10 - 4 PM
Evening session 7 – 10 PM

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by dollarbin, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 10:02 pm

dollarbin is a registered user.

My pumpkins were hit hard too! In three days we lost two uncarved pumpkins so I brought the rest inside until Halloween. After carving, I was able to discourage the squirrels by sprinkling cut surfaces with some cayenne pepper.

Posted by Hafkenschiel , a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Nov 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Those are very pesky little guys , never seem to leave anything alone. My friend Ian works at a home I,prove,rent pace in portola valley and he says rat poison in moderation will get rid of them. 1100

Posted by #badsquirrels, a resident of another community,
on Nov 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

The squirrel's pumpkin raid is most likely due to the drought -trees are dying and with them the nuts and seeds. Our local wildlife are thirstier/hungrier these days.

Posted by #badsquirrels, a resident of another community,
on Nov 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

The squirrel's pumpkin raid is most likely due to the drought -trees are dying and with them the nuts and seeds. Our local wildlife are thirstier/hungrier these days.

Posted by Humble observer, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Sciurus niger (so-called "eastern" or "red" fox [tree] squirrel, and common in two colors here, one grey-haired with brownish or reddish touches, the other dark brown) is a nonnative introduced species responsible for much of the aggressive feeding behavior that humans see in the Bay Area Web Link California treats this species as a noxious pest, similar to rats or mice ("Eastern fox squirrels found to be injuring growing crops or other property may be controlled at any time and in any legal manner by the owner or tenant of the premises without a permit" -- from UC-Davis's overview, on its excellent Integrated Pest Management website linked above). Note that that status is species-specific; other squirrel species require permits for removal; however S. niger is the species I mostly see.

But Hafkenschiel's "rat poison" isn't such a clever idea. State code warns against using poisons (traps are emphasized instead). This is also plain good sense, for the same reason that experts discourage poison for rats: dying or dead outdoor rodents often become food for benign scavenger animals, which then can get poisoned in turn.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

Thanks everyone for your input - here's another received via email:

"You're absolutely right about the squirrels. This is very odd behavior for them and it is due to the lack of food, but they are picky on which pumpkins they like. And as for the indian corn, they are only eating the very edge of the inside of the kernel. As you can see by the picture, they were picky but messy."

Posted by Many Confirmed Kills, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I don't think there is one reason only. I've had them get my pumpkins ni wet years or otherwise times of plenty. I've had them leave the squash alone the past 3 years. I think it's more food supply at the local(block) level.
We had one neighbor who fed them regularly, then she died. The following year they ate EVERYTHING, including chewing off all my sprinkler heads, though I think that was more due to their need to gnaw since their teeth are always growing. After that year i think they found other food sources.

FWIT, if you bait those electric rat traps with peanuts and put them out during the day, they will kill the non-nocturnal rats as well.
Using poison is bad since they wander off to die in paces like under houses, or they get eaten by other animals who then inject the poison.

Usually it's just one offender doing the damage, as was the case with my sprinklers. Once the bad one was gone I had no other issues.

Posted by Barron Park resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

The squirrels in our Barron Park have been attacking pumpkins the last 4-6 years. Prior to that, they never touched the pumpkins. We wonder if this is learned behavior and is spreading to other areas of town? My daughter was thinking of doing a science project to map the areas of Palo Alto to see if this theory is true.

Posted by Colleen, a resident of another community,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 5:40 am

Did you bring a squirrel back to California from Detroit last time you visited?! I think that's what happened. The Detroit squirrel taught the California squirrels how to abuse the pumpkins. Squirrels have been eating pumpkins on porches here in Metro Detroit for as long as I can remember.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 7:14 am

I lived in Barron Park the 10 years before Portola Valley and they didn't attack my pumpkins back then - so interesting Barron Park resident. More info for your daughter! And then before that I lived in the Detroit area Colleen - I don't remember them eviscerating pumpkins - of course ours were always carved, and put out just before Halloween. Those inner city squirrels - always a bad example for the rest of us.

Posted by Janet storz, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 7:44 am

Ok, I know that squirrels are just rats with pretty outfits, but I love them and so I don't mind them in my garden. Every morning they are outside eatting the seeds that I saved after carving pumpkins so they haven't touched the decorative pumpkins. Of course after Thanksgiving I can cut them open and they can give thanks for what they have received.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

Janet Storz, what a lovely comment!

Posted by Petra, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

This is the first year I have had squirrels eat my pumpkins, and they demolished them quickly. I think the drought has caused it, due to lack of their other food sources. My friend in S CA says even the deer were eating her pumpkins. Please though, let's not put our any poisons, this has a chain reaction on other wildlife and even pets, and damages our eco balance.

Posted by Cid Young, a resident of another community,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm

You do not suspect rodents as in RATS?

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Rat poison? To the poster who suggested this, I hope you don't find yourself in an alley one dark night surrounded by a gang of hungry squirrels.

Our back and front yards are their living rooms, so we should try to co-exist peacefully with them.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on Nov 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

Not only did I see them, I saw them crazed. They were scampering around the backyard in a frenzy. When I entered the yard one day, one just sat on my front porch looking at me approach like I was the intruder. That's when I freaked and brought the remaining 3 pumpkins inside. It was weird, almost manic, like they were on drugs or something. I didn't want then to start gnawing on me next!

Posted by Belle stafford, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens,
on Nov 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Bacon, yes it tastes good, but it's bad for your health, bad for the environment and especially bad for the poor pigs. If people really knew the process of getting bacon, many would avoid it. We need to move to a plant-based diet if we have any hope of saving the planet. Seen Cowspiracy yet?

Posted by Protect our Wiold Spaces, no more farms, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Nov 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I LOVE bacon! Best when candied with brn sugar and maple. So good.
Q: How can you tell a vegan at cocktail party?
A: Don't worry, they'll be sure to let you know.

In all honesty, there is no ONE answer just as there is no ONE answer to automobile types. The best alternatives will be varied so the impact of all eggs in one basket is not felt.

The removal of wild spaces turned into mass farming operations would ruin our scarce and delicate wild areas and wild animal populations. The best option for the Earth will be not putting all our nutritional needs into one basket. Variety of diet including animal protein is ticket for those not stuck in the 1970's. We don't ALL have to do anything. If fact once we ALL start doing the same thing, we're doomed because there are too many of us.

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Nov 12, 2015 at 12:35 am

Hafkenschiel ---
Please! Do NOT use poison – anywhere – EVER! Why? It kills pets and native wildlife, including hawks and eagles and owls. It gets into the ecosystem and stays there for a long, long time. And the mammals it poisons may crawl into places where it is very hard to remove them from, and die and decompose, making a horrid stench.

Laura Stec ---
I am so sorry those dratted squirrels ate your beautiful pumpkins. I had not heard of that happening before. I, too, think the drought is to blame for this.

I enjoy your writing. You do have a way with words. I really felt for you when you said that doggoned squirrel made YOU feel like the intruder! Such chutzpah!

Humble observer ---
Thank you very much for the fascinating info. I did not know, until I read your comment, that our state treats that one squirrel species as a noxious pest – wow.

Janet storz ---
That is soooo funny -- “...squirrels are just rats with pretty outfits”. LOL! Some people feel that way about deer, too – calling them “hooved rats”. A friend in another area said deer ruined her beautiful garden – they ate EVERYTHING! She said her reaction to mountain lions is, “Here, Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!” (She’s just kidding!)

The problem is that things are out of balance. Too many creatures for the food and water that is now available.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Nov 12, 2015 at 7:16 am

What a great Food Party! this week. The jokes make for great dinner conversation. Thanks for coming.

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of another community,
on Nov 12, 2015 at 8:39 am

It's clear it is due to the drought, but probably also - nothing ever thins the population of squirrels either. There are just too many of them in the area.

They normally don't eat my garden but this year everything was gone, I got nothing from my fruit trees, the pesky squirrels got everything and they are so stupid they get it while it is still green as soon as anything has a hint of color.

I think we need open season of squirrels. Thank goodness my neighbor's cat gets one every once in a while.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 2,409 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,262 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,662 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.