pumpkin bleach

Toronto wildlife experts warn that bleaching pumpkins could kill animals

Halloween is just around the corner, and that means Toronto neighbourhoods are already filled with pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns of all shapes and sizes. 

But, whether you choose to carve your orange winter squash into a Pokemon character, a beloved trash panda, or simply leave it as is, the Toronto Wildlife Centre wants you to know that you shouldn't attempt to preserve your pumpkin with bleach for the sake of the animals in your neighbourhood.

"Suggestions have been made to use bleach to preserve jack-o-lanterns this #Halloween," tweeted TWC this past weekend.

When conducting a quick online search for ways to prevent a pumpkin from rotting, just as TWC said, a number of articles immediately come up with suggestions to submerge it in a bucket filled with water and bleach.

And according to an article about pumpkin preservation published in Food52 back in August, "a bleach soak is the internet's most popular way to preserve both whole and carved pumpkins."

But TWC says the bleach is extremely harmful to wildlife who may decide to feed on pumpkins left outdoors, and the substance can be fatal to creatures such as squirrels and raccoons that ingest it. 

Instead of using bleach, TWC recommends using a natural solution of one part vinegar to 10 parts water.

And in response to the TWC's suggestion, some Toronto residents have also taken to Twitter to offer up their own ideas for post-Halloween pumpkin use.

"Preserve them? Why don't people eat them? Roast the seeds? Compost them? Let them decay in their garden to enrich soil?" asked one Torontonian.

"Our absolute fav. activity post-Halloween, is to collect intact pumpkins left on the curb for garbage pickup and drive them to a nearby park and smash them open for wildlife," wrote another.

So whether you decide to naturally preserve your pumpkin, use it as a cooking ingredient or simply leave it out for wildlife to enjoy, be sure to stay away from a bleach solution this Halloween season. 

Lead photo by

Toronto Wildlife Centre


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