If you ever come home to discover a cherished Halloween pumpkin destroyed, don’t assign blame to any neighborhood vandals. This year, it might be the work of squirrels.

According to a series of news reports from around the country, the bushy-tailed rodents that once occupied a place of esteem as a pet for President Warren G. Harding have taken to assaulting and defacing pumpkins left out on porches for Halloween by using them as a source for food.

What makes this year different? There’s been speculation that fewer acorns might have squirrels foraging for food more than usual. Another theory is that reduced traffic in parks and restaurants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic might mean fewer scraps for squirrels to gather.

In New York and Pennsylvania, a drought may be to blame. Charlie Todd, owner of Chamberlain Acres Garden Center in Southport, New York, told 18 News that a lack of rainfall reduced the amount of available vegetation squirrels normally dine out on.

Can this squirrel crime wave be stopped? A number of solutions are circulating online, from spraying pumpkins with soap and hot sauce to coating it with a sticky solution. But if a squirrel is desperate enough, it’s probably going to take what it can get. Some people leave out other snacks, like peanuts, to deter the squirrel from munching on the gourd, but leaving food out can attract other animals, too. If you have a prized pumpkin and fear its destruction, displaying it inside your home is probably your safest bet.