Squirrels can eat chocolate, but it’s not healthy for them. Just like other pets, such as dogs, chocolate is poisonous to squirrels due to the presence of theobromine.
The consumption of chocolate is a healthy habit for humans, but it’s clearly not safe for animals, especially pets. It is also not safe for squirrels to eat chocolate. In 2018, chocolate ranked fourth on the list of the top four poisons for the year compiled by the Animal Poison Control Centers (APCC) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
There is a difference between the toxicity of chocolate based on the chocolate type, the quantity consumed, as well as the digestive system of the animal.
Theobromine, when consumed in large quantities, could be fatal to squirrels if they consume it in large quantities.
You should avoid giving chocolate to squirrels to prevent this from happening. Ideally, feed squirrels safer foods such as nuts, berries, fruits, and sunflower seeds.
Let’s take a look at why you should not feed squirrels chocolate.
Why chocolate is toxic to squirrels
It is estimated that theobromine has an LD50 of 1000 mg/kg body mass in humans. There are many ways to measure acute toxicity, including LD50, a lethal dose of 50%. A lethal concentration of a substance that will kill 50% of the population is referred to as an LC50.
It follows that 50% of all 500g squirrels would perish if they consumed 0.5 g of theobromine.
Theobromine content in milk chocolate ranges from 1.5 to 2.0g/kg, however, it can reach 15 g/kg or more in dark chocolate. The amount of theobromine a squirrel consumes over time increases if it regularly consumes dark chocolate bars.
However, the level of toxicity varies significantly based on the species of squirrels, their body weight, and their metabolism. A grey squirrel from the East typically weighs 1.3 pounds. It follows that even 0.5 mg of theobromine is enough to make someone sick.
There may be more dangers for squirrel pets than only theobromine and caffeine in chocolate. A sugar alternative called xylitol is occasionally added to chocolates to prevent cavities. Xylitol can damage the liver and reduce blood sugar levels. Additionally, the amount of sugar and fat in chocolate may make squirrels more sensitive, and eating more chocolate may cause pancreas inflammation.
Animals that consume huge amounts of chocolate may become poisoned by theobromine. Trembling, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, and even death are some of the consequences.
Chocolate poisoning has no known cure in animals. Induced vomiting and the introduction of activated charcoal are the best treatments.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Squirrels
Here are the most common symptoms of chocolate toxicity in squirrels:
- Restlessness and hyperactivity.
- Diarrhea and vomiting.
- Drinking and urinating excessively.
- Abdominal pain.
These symptoms can appear within two to twelve hours and last for days.
What Can You Feed Squirrels?
What should you feed squirrels if chocolate is unhealthy for them? Squirrels can typically consume nearly everything since they are able to adapt to their environment and the food that is accessible to them.
Let’s discuss some best alternatives below.
1. High-calcium vegetables:
Five servings the size of your thumbs a day of arugula, beet greens, chicory, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, collard greens, kale, mustard spinach, radishes, squash, turnip greens, and watercress might go a long way. Asparagus, artichokes, avocados, sweet peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and sweet potatoes are some foods that the animals adore.
2. Animal Protein:
Mealworms, crickets, and moths, whether live or dried, are favorites of squirrels. These insects are one way to supplement the diets of squirrels with vitamins and proteins. Cheese and yogurt are additional possibilities; one spoonful each day is sufficient.
Give melons, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, apricots, and apples sparingly. Diarrhea is a side effect of eating too many sweet fruits.
Keep in mind that seeds and pits may be poisonous to squirrels, so don’t give them to your pet. Additionally, feeding dates and dried fruits like prunes and plums to squirrels is not advised.
The best nuts for squirrels are those that are still in their shells. The healthiest nuts include acorns, roasted pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and peanuts are next in line. Avoid dry corn, pine nuts, and cashews since they can lower squirrels’ calcium levels.
5. Formulated pellets and supplements:
Calcium and vitamin D3 are essential for many squirrels, particularly flying squirrels. Try giving them squirrel pellets and supplements if they aren’t receiving enough natural foods.
Animal bones or deer antlers would be a welcome addition to many species’ diets, even if squirrels prefer a vegetarian diet. Animal bones, which are an excellent source of calcium, are particularly favored by wild squirrels.
What can you not feed Squirrels?
Squirrels mustn’t eat processed food. Starchy foods like cereal and spaghetti fall under this category. Additionally, you should refrain from giving squirrels some nuts, such as peanuts, certain vegetables, such as corn and beans, and pet food intended for other animals.
The following foods are bad for squirrels and should be avoided:
1. Processed foods
Do not feed squirrels processed food such as starchy food–pasta and bread, breakfast cereals, potato chips, pretzels, and crackers
2. Fruits and Vegetables
The following fruits and vegetables are bad for squirrels:
Fresh corn, garlic, onion, palm hearts potatoes, sprouts, yams, and legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, and peas
3. Nuts and Seeds
While squirrels generally feed on nuts, certain types are bad for them: cashews, sunflower seeds, dried corn, and fine nuts
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is white chocolate bad for squirrels?
White chocolate isn’t technically considered to be chocolate. It is a sweet product with sugar, cocoa butter, milk, and vanilla. It lacks the cocoa solids that give chocolate its dark color and bitter flavor. In comparison to milk or dark chocolate, white chocolate has a minimal amount of harmful alkaloids. In that regard, white chocolate can be given to pet squirrels without endangering them.
White chocolate, on the other hand, frequently includes additives like palm oil and other fillers, in addition to a ton of sugar or sweeteners, none of which are beneficial for the health of squirrels.
Can Squirrels Eat Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate is not something squirrels should eat. The most poisonous variety of chocolate for animals is dark chocolate. Theobromine levels are higher, which results in more cases of chocolate poisoning.
Can squirrels eat chocolate almonds?
No, you shouldn’t ever give squirrels almonds, peanuts, cashews, or any other kind of nut dipped in chocolate. Although it’s true that these tiny rodents adore eating nuts like walnuts, macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts, they also enjoy eating other kinds of nuts.
Is white chocolate bad for them?
Animals like cats, dogs, and squirrels shouldn’t eat white chocolate.
White chocolate doesn’t have a lot of theobromine because it doesn’t have non-fat cocoa solids. Squirrels may be poisoned by the high fat and sugar content of white chocolate.
Can squirrels eat chocolate chip cookies?
Although they don’t generally eat cake or chocolate chip cookies, squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will consume anything they can get their hands on.
Most likely, a squirrel eating a chocolate chip cookie in a tree isn’t doing so because someone gave it to them. The squirrel probably found a bit of cookie that a child had dropped while eating it and took it back to their den or stored it for the winter.
Popcorn, cranberries, Oreos, cake, cookies, and other foods are frequently introduced to squirrels by humans.
Do squirrels like Oreos?
Pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts are the squirrels’ top four favorite foods, but they also enjoy Oreo cookies. They enjoy eating Oreos because of their distinct flavor and sweetness. But like other chocolate products, these are bad for them as well because they become a gradual poison over time.
Can squirrels eat chocolate cake?
No, squirrels shouldn’t consume any sweets like cake, pies, cobbler, Nutella, or any others. Feeding them candy, cookies, Oreos, etc. will upset their digestive systems and leave them susceptible to illnesses. If people didn’t feed squirrels at all, they would be fine.
Now It’s your turn
Squirrels can be poisoned by chocolate. The effects of chocolate on squirrels, however, vary depending on the sort of chocolate taken, how much was consumed, and the size of the squirrel. Dark chocolate, in particular, has the ability to kill squirrels when consumed in high enough quantities.
In summary, it’s better to stay away from chocolates, sweets, and highly processed foods when feeding squirrels in your garden.