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Pumpkin Creatures: Alligators and Snails

One is a slow-moving snail. The other is a mischievously grinning alligator. Both are made using carving pumpkins, which are arranged into animal shapes and illuminated under the cover of darkness.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2003


Before you get started on this project, consult our guide on tools and techniques for everything you need to know about pumpkin carving. And when you're done, get the how-to for other pumpkin creatures, including owls, racoons, cats, and more.


  • For alligator: 4 large, oblong pumpkins and 4 miniature pumpkins

  • For snail: 1 round spotted gourd and 1 squat bigger pumpkin

  • Masking tape

  • Pen


  1. For both: Start by drawing patterns on the pumpkins. Draw scales, eyes, teeth with a pen. Then, number pumpkins with masking tape so you'll be able to reassemble them. Using pen marks as guides, make holes where pumpkins meet and at the end of the last pumpkin; scoop out insides.

  2. To make the alligator: Create the mouth by removing the stem from the first pumpkin and carve long, jagged teeth on either side.

  3. To assemble the alligator, arrange the oblong pumpkins on their sides to mimic the body. Arrange the miniature pumpkins to look like feet. When placement is finished, connect the pumpkins with toothpicks.

  4. To make the snail: Remove the stem. Etch the top of the squat pumpkin in a spiraling pattern to mimic the shape of a gastropod shell. 

  5. Remove the neck from the gourd; when cut in half and assembled, this will become the antenna.

  6. To assemble the snail, arrange the pumpkin and gourd to mimic the snail shell and head. The gourd neck should be placed on top of the gourd to look like antenna. When placement is finished, connect the pumpkins with toothpicks.

  7. Illuminate with lights.

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