Pumkins are a classic symbol of the fall season, and area farm markets have beautiful fall pumpkins in abundance. Pumpkins are a fun way to include your pet in the festivities and enrich their diet and their life at the same time!
Pumpkins play a part in enrichment programs
State-of-the-art zoos have long provided “enrichment” experiences for the animals living there, and pumpkins play a role. Whether hollowed out and filled with other produce and grains for the primates, frozen in a block of ice for the polar bears to play with, or just given “as is” to the elephants, pumpkins are nourishing and fun.
Get the right kind for small pets
Larger pumpkins are grown in such a way that they hold up to carving, having very firm flesh that does not collapse upon itself after being turned into a jack o’ lantern. These pumpkins are not bred for taste, and are not at all what you want to get for a finicky domestic pet.
Pie pumpkins, occasionally called sugar pumpkins or sugar pie pumpkins, are smaller, about the size of a softball or small cantaloupe. They are delicately sweet (and become very tender when cooked, thus the name).
Select a pie pumpkin that seems heavy for its size, and with any pumpkin, make sure to check the bottom of the pumpkin to make sure it is not soft or moldy. The pumpkin should be free of scratches and have firm flesh. Make sure it has no wax on it (scrape the surface with your fingernail) nor shellack of any kind (is it unnaturally shiny?).
Set the small pumpkin in your small pet’s habitat and see what happens!
My big girl bunnies nibble on their pumpkin on occasion; Cookie chins it to make sure no one else gets it.
Guillermo is very house-proud now that he has a Cottontail Cottage of his own, so he doesn’t touch it; it is part of his home decor.
The two little rabbits apparently think the small pumpkin is the most fun toy EVER, as I am awakened at various wee hours to the sound of pumpkin-soccer. They push the pumpkin around, apparently attempting field goals through their bunny-bunker door. They usually fail, as evidenced by the loud thumping sound of the pumpkin crashing into the side of the wooden crate.
For 50 cents, you can’t get a cheaper, more nutritious toy.
Best places to get pumpkins in Dayton:
Greene County Farmer’s Market (last weekend for this one) has a great selection of both types pumpkins, although extra-beautiful pie pumpkins are available at Mr. Garber’s at 2nd St. Market. (The pie pumpkin I got from him a year ago lasted until April. It became known as the Easter Pumpkin).
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