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Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate? (4 Toxic Foods For Squirrels)

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Squirrels can eat small amounts of chocolate, and many do when given the chance. But they shouldn’t as chocolate is bad for squirrels. Chocolate is toxic for squirrels in large amounts. 

What’s the harm in sharing a bar of chocolate with our furry friends?

It turns out that it can cause a lot of harm. Chocolate is toxic to many animals, including squirrels in certain instances.

In this article, we look at the effects chocolate has on squirrels. You will also learn whether it’s safe to share a little sweet treat with pet squirrels and wild squirrels. 

Is Chocolate Bad for Squirrels

Yes, chocolate is bad for squirrels to eat. Chocolate is a processed food high in sugar, and caffeine. It also contains a toxic substance known as theobromine. These are all harmful to animals. 

The high sugar and fat content in chocolate can upset a squirrel’s stomach. But these are not the only ingredients in chocolate that make it a bad choice for squirrels.[1]

There are two other substances in chocolate that are toxic to animals: theobromine and caffeine.

These substances stimulate the central nervous system. This causes a rapid heartbeat that is life-threatening to animals.[2] 

According to The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a toxic amount of theobromine causes animals’ nervous systems, guts, and muscles to go into overdrive. This is known as chocolate toxicity. 

Is Chocolate Bad for Squirrels

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Squirrels

Here are the most common symptoms of chocolate toxicity in squirrels:

  • Restlessness and hyperactivity. 
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Drinking and urinating excessively.
  • Abdominal pain.

These symptoms can appear within two to twelve hours and can last for days. 

What is Theobromine? 

Theobromine is an alkaloid, like caffeine, that was discovered in cocoa beans in 1841. 

The small amount of theobromine in chocolate doesn’t cause health problems for humans. It has some health benefits for us, but this is not the case for animals.[3]

Is Chocolate Poisonous to Squirrels?

Yes, chocolate can be poisonous to squirrels in large amounts. This is not unique to squirrels, as many mammals are affected similarly.  

Chocolate is toxic to squirrels. Studies have found theobromine has been used to poison domestic and wild animals. 

It has been used to poison coyotes and is the most common cause of accidental poisoning in dogs.[4]

Animals don’t have to eat much chocolate to be affected. Most animals have slower metabolisms than humans. They can’t process it as well as humans.

One also has to account for their weight ratio compared to humans with the amount of chocolate consumed. In small animals, a mere 1,76 ounces (50 grams) of chocolate is toxic.[3] 

Is Chocolate Poisonous to Squirrels

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning 

Within 12 hours of eating chocolate, animals can become excessively thirsty, vomit, experience diarrhea, and seem restless. 

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning also include the following:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Panting
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Coma

Chocolate poisoning can lead to heart failure and death.[1]

Can Squirrels Eat Dark Chocolate? 

Squirrels should not eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most toxic type of chocolate for animals. It contains higher amounts of theobromine, causing increased chocolate poisoning.

Dark chocolate is considered the healthiest form of chocolate for humans. But it’s the most toxic form of chocolate for squirrels. 

This is because dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids (and therefore more theobromine) than milk chocolate.[1]

Chocolate products with the highest to lowest levels of theobromine[2] and caffeine:

  1. Cocoa powder (highest) 
  2. Unsweetened baking chocolate
  3. Semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate
  4. Milk chocolate
  5. White chocolate 

White chocolate has the lowest amount of theobromine, as this type of chocolate rarely contains more than 25%

Although white chocolate contains minute amounts of theobromine and caffeine, the sugar and fat content can make squirrels sick. 

Can Squirrels Eat Dark Chocolate

What Can You Feed Squirrels? 

You can feed squirrels raw and unsalted nuts and seeds, uncooked, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Avoid toxic foods such as chocolate, avocado, and high-carb foods.

The best diet for squirrels is one they forage themselves in nature. If they can’t forage, the next best is a diet that replicates their natural diet.

It’s generally advised not to feed squirrels. This can change their natural behavior.

Related: What Do Squirrels Eat?

What To Feed Squirrels In The Garden

If you have squirrels running around in your garden, you can feed them the following foods:

  • Raw and unsalted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts). 
  • Apple 
  • Bean sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Spinach [4]

What To Feed a Pet Squirrel

Seek advice from the vet if you have questions about your pet squirrel’s diet. A vet specializing in exotic pets can give you advice on the best foods and portion sizes for the specific type of squirrel you have. 

According to the Avian and Animal Hospital (AAH) in Florida, pet squirrels need a balanced diet. This includes protein, fat, and vegetables high in calcium.[5]

In addition to specially formulated vet-recommended rodent food, AAH recommends feeding squirrels high-calcium vegetables and animal protein. 

What To Feed a Pet Squirrel

High-Calcium Vegetables: 

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens
  • Belgian endive
  • Chicory
  • Chinese cabbage (bok choy)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Mustard spinach
  • Fresh parsley
  • Purslane
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • squash (butternut)
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress.

Animal Protein: 

  • Live or dried mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Live moths
  • Eggs (hard-boiled or scrambled, with the shell)
  • Cheese
  • Plain yogurt mashed with some fruit 

What Not To Feed Squirrels 

Do not feed squirrels processed foods. They have no place in a healthy squirrel diet. This includes starchy foods, sugary foods (including chocolate), and cereal. You should also avoid feeding squirrels peanuts, legumes, corn, and pet food made for other animals. 

Here are foods that are unhealthy for squirrels and should be avoided: 

  • Processed foods
  • Toxic fruits and vegetables
  • Certain seeds and nuts high in fats

Processed Foods Not To Feed Squirrels

Do not feed squirrels the following processed foods:

  • Starchy foods (pasta and bread)
  • Sugary foods (candy, cookies, dried fruit, fruit juices, sweetened yogurt, and granola)
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Potato chips, pretzels, and crackers
  • Foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners

Fruits and Vegetables Not To Feed Squirrels

The following fruits and vegetables are bad for squirrels:

  • Fresh corn
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Palm hearts
  • Potatoes
  • Sprouts
  • Yams
  • Legumes – kidney beans, lentils, peas, and soybeans (except for green beans and sugar snap peas in the pod).
  • Dates
  • Dried fruit
  • Figs
  • Fruit juice
  • Persimmons
  • Plums 
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

Nuts and Seeds Not To Feed Squirrels

While squirrels generally feed on nuts, certain types are bad for them:

  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried corn
  • Pine nuts [5] 

4 Foods That Are Toxic to Squirrels

The skin and pits of avocado, fruit pits and seeds, peanuts, and corn are all are toxic foods for squirrels.

The following foods are poisonous to squirrels.

  1. Avocado skin and pits
  2. Fruit pits and seeds [5] 
  3. Peanuts
  4. Corn 

1. Avocado skin and pits

Avocado skin and pits

Avocado skins and pits, and fruit pits and seeds contain the toxin persin. Ingesting persin can cause heart failure in squirrels.[6] 

2. Fruit pits and seeds

The persin in fruit seeds negatively affects squirrels’ hearts and can be fatal. Interestingly, squirrels are not affected by the seeds in berries. [5] 

3. Peanuts 

Peanuts

This comes as a surprise because many people feed squirrels peanuts. 

The problem with peanuts is they can contain aflatoxin, a type of chemical produced by two molds, Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus.  

Aflatoxin is a carcinogen. In rodents, it is a potent liver carcinogen.[7]

4. Corn 

Like peanuts, corn can also be a host for aflatoxin. Drought, extreme heat, and corn ear injury from insects create the ideal environment for mold growth and the production of aflatoxin.[8] 

Conclusion

Squirrels can eat small amounts of chocolate but should be kept from them. Chocolate is toxic to squirrels in large amounts. One bite too many, and squirrels can experience seizures, go into a coma, or experience heart failure. 

Chocolate poisoning can be fatal. It takes a small amount (1.76 ounces) of chocolate to poison a squirrel. 

As sweet as it seems to share a little chocolate with a squirrel, it’s better to save the candy for yourself and let squirrels find their food naturally. 

FAQs

Can Wild Squirrels Eat Chocolate?

No, wild squirrels can not eat chocolate. The theobromine and caffeine found in chocolate are bad for them and cause health issues when ingested in moderate to large amounts.

Is Dark Chocolate Poisonous to Squirrels?

Yes, dark chocolate is poisonous to squirrels. It’s the most dangerous chocolate for them to consume, as it’s higher in theobromine than any other type of chocolate.

What Foods Are Poisonous to Squirrels? 

Persin, a toxin found in avocado skins and pits, and fruit pits and seeds, are poisonous to squirrels. It can cause heart failure and death. Chocolate can be poisonous to squirrels. Chocolate poisoning can cause seizures, coma, heart failure, and death. 

Is Chocolate Bad for Squirrels? 

Yes, chocolate is bad for squirrels. Theobromine, an alkaloid in chocolate, is what poisons many mammals. It can cause seizures, a coma, heart failure, and death. For a small animal like a squirrel, 1,76 ounces (50 grams) of chocolate can be enough to kill them.

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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