Do Elephants Eat Pumpkins? Explained!

Last updated on September 3rd, 2022

Elephants are herbivores and voracious eaters! They will eat all the fruits, vegetables, and foliage you offer. But did you know that elephants can eat pumpkins?

In zoos, elephants are sometimes given pumpkins to supplement their regular diet of fruits, vegetables, and foliage.

Elephants do eat pumpkins but they won’t go out looking for these fruits. They’ll consume them whenever they come across any.

Elephants find pumpkins palatable even though grasses and shrubs are their main sources of food. They’ll break open the pumpkin and use their trunk to bring the pieces to their mouth. Elephants will consume the flesh, skin & seeds of the pumpkin, but they cannot eat the whole fruit in a single bite.

Do elephants like eating pumpkins?

african elephant 12092021

Elephants are herbivores, and they enjoy any plant-based food. When the creature is bred in captivity, they are given a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and leaves.

Zookeepers often give elephants pumpkins to fulfill their nutritional requirement.

In the wild, elephants are known to consume pumpkins if they come across any of these fruits.

They also enjoy eating the sweet-tasting watermelon fruit because it is different from their regular diet of grass, shrubs, twigs, leaves, and bark of trees.

Is it safe to feed pumpkins to elephants?

Pumpkins are safe for elephants to eat because it’s an excellent source of minerals, proteins, and vitamins. However, it would be best to ensure that the fruit is entirely organic.

Pesticides and insecticides in the fruit can cause harm to the elephants which can lead to digestive distress.

How do elephants eat pumpkins?

According to the website,, elephants can break open the pumpkins to access the sweet flesh of the fruit.

To access the flesh of the fruit, the elephant will first smash the pumpkin into smaller pieces and then lift them with the help of its trunk.

An elephant will then chew the smaller pieces of a pumpkin and consume the flesh and the skin.

Do African elephants eat pumpkins?

Pumpkins are massive gourds that are pretty common in Africa.

In Africa, you will find sweet pumpkins like the Sugar Pie, Andrina acorn, and buttercup. However, these pumpkins are grown commercially.

In the wild, pumpkin is a quite large indigenous green squash and these fruits are a favorite of the elephants.

If a herd of elephants comes across a pumpkin patch in the wild, they will eat these fruits after smashing these with their feet.

Hence, African elephants not only eat pumpkins, but they also love to eat vegetables when they find them.

Can elephants eat pumpkin seeds?

Pumpkin seeds are entirely non-toxic to elephants and an excellent source of fat and fiber. When you give elephants whole pumpkins, the creature will eat the seeds along with the flesh.

Therefore, consuming the seeds can be pretty helpful for the elephant as these will provide the pachyderm with an excellent supply of fiber and improve its digestive health.

However, you do not need to give elephants pumpkin seeds separately as excessive fiber can be unhealthy.

Hence, the seeds that the elephant consumes along with the fruit are sufficient for the elephant’s overall health.

Is it necessary to cut pumpkins into small pieces before giving them to an elephant?

Elephants are pretty friendly and playful creatures, and when you give them a whole pumpkin, they will play with the fruit before smashing and eating it.

But how the fruit is offered to the pachyderms depends entirely on the zookeeper.

If you offer a whole pumpkin, the elephant can break it into pieces before consuming it, and if you cut it into bite-size pieces, the elephant will eat it directly by using its trunk to bring the pieces to its mouth.

Why do zookeepers give elephants whole pumpkins?

According to the website, Pumpkinnook, zookeepers give whole pumpkins to elephants because they can play with the fruit and can eat it at the same time.

When the movement of the elephant is restricted in a zoo, it is essential to keep these pachyderms active to prevent them from falling ill.

Hence, by giving it a giant pumpkin to smash and play with, the zookeepers can keep the creature active and provide it with nutritious food.

Do you need to limit the number of pumpkins given to elephants?

Elephants are not picky eaters, and they have massive appetites.

Therefore, you will find that when they are bred in captivity, they are given a considerable supply of fruits, vegetables, and foliage to satiate their appetite.

Hence, there is no particular limit regarding the number of pumpkins you can give to an elephant.

The only thing you need to remember is when you give a whole pumpkin to an elephant, it will smash it open, play with it, and make a mess!

This can be enjoyable for the onlookers but will make the elephant pen dirty.

Pumpkins are the best way to ensure that elephants get their daily supply of nutrients.

Is there a certain amount of food you must give elephants daily?

Yes, even when elephants are bred in captivity, you must ensure they are given enough food to satisfy their hunger.

Usually, elephants need nearly 70,000 calories per day to keep themselves healthy, which amounts to nearly 300 pounds of food.

Now supplying such a massive amount of food in the form of fruits, vegetables and foliage can be quite challenging.

Hence, if you can give elephants bred in captivity fruits like watermelons and pumpkins, you can be assured that you are supplying the necessary amount of food and calories.

Further reading:

Scroll to Top