Even while squirrels can eat chocolate, they should not. In terms of nutrition, the delectable dessert has little to give. In addition, chocolate’s theobromine component can be hazardous to squirrels if taken in significant quantities, resulting in theobromine poisoning.
Continue reading to learn why chocolate is not the best treat for squirrels and what you can give them instead.
Why Is Chocolate Dangerous to Squirrels?
There are numerous scientific studies that indicate how chocolate and its byproducts can harm both wild and domestic animals.
Theobromine, the alkaloid ingredient in chocolate that gives it a bitter flavor, has traditionally been the main reason. Unfortunately, this drug is poisonous to pets and is frequently responsible for accidental poisoning in dogs, cats, and other household pets.
So, what does this have to do with squirrels?
Theobromine can be lethal to squirrels, especially in large amounts. This can result in a condition known as chocolate poisoning.
There are various species of squirrels, each with unique body size. However, the Eastern gray squirrel, which measures about 11 inches and weighs around 1.3 pounds, is common. A normal Eastern gray squirrel at that bodyweight can be poisoned and potentially die by swallowing 0.5mg of theobromine.
What happens if squirrels eat chocolate?
Chocolates daily might cause:
- Stomach discomfort
- gastrointestinal issues
- muscle tremors
- abnormal heart rhythms,
- and even death.
Their little bodies are unable to withstand the effects of the delectable feast.
Chocolate provides no nutritional value to squirrels and can even inhibit them from absorbing other nutrients from their meal if consumed in excess.
Excessive dosages of theobromine over 75 mg/kg body mass can be lethal to squirrels. Unfortunately, remembering a squirrel’s body mass when giving them delectable sweets or other chocolate items is impracticable for many people.
But why bother feeding your pet or wild squirrel a possibly hazardous substance when there are countless safe alternatives?
Is it true that all chocolates are toxic to squirrels?
Not all chocolate products are the same. Some are high in theobromine, while others contain very little of the chemical.
Dark chocolate goods, for example, have more theobromine than white chocolate. In addition, white chocolate contains a large amount of sugar and fat, making it unsuitable for these bushy-tailed rodents.
Here is a list of the chocolate products that have the most theobromine:
- Dark chocolate (228 mg/square oz)
- Dark chocolate-coated coffee beans (147 mg/oz)
- Baking chocolate (376 mg/square oz)
- Sweet chocolate candy (175 mg/1.5 oz)
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips (138 mg/1 oz)
- Chocolate wafers (21 mg/wafer)
- Cocoa powder (142 mg/100 grams)
- Hot cocoa (170 mg/cup)
Can squirrels eat chocolate In moderation?
While some pet owners suggest giving chocolate in “moderation,” this is not the case with squirrels.
These adorable, fuzzy creatures may be smart, cunning, and cunning, but they are still animals and cannot be bothered to eat in moderation.
Have you ever wondered why these animals keep food in their dens? Do you know they can put a lot of food into their cheeks even when full? As a result, their cheeks have been dubbed “giant grocery bags!”
Animals usually know what to eat and what to avoid. Squirrels, in particular, will not consume dangerous foods. That rule, however, is broken when the meal in question is chocolate! If a squirrel has unlimited access to chocolate bars, it will consume until there is nothing left or it becomes too full. Even so, it will scurry away with a mouthful of food for later consumption.
In a nutshell, moderation rarely works with squirrels.
Can squirrels consume chocolate if their owners closely control the amount of chocolate offered? Is it safe to feed a small amount of chocolate now and then? Perhaps the best approach to address this question is to look at a squirrel’s digestive system.
Although squirrels can consume meat and various other foods, especially when hungry, they are primarily herbivores. However, these small fluffy rodents, like rabbits, lack digestive systems. This means squirrels are unable to metabolize cellulose.
Chocolates contain cellulose!
Consider how dangerous it is to feed a squirrel something it can’t digest the next time you think about giving it some chocolates.
How much chocolate will kill a squirrel?
According to the Lethal Dose (LD50) studied on small animals, including squirrels, 0.5 mg of theobromine or 36g of a 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar is enough to kill a squirrel extremely rapidly, similar to sprinting in front of cars in the center of the road.
Can squirrels die from eating chocolates?
Of course, squirrels will not die from eating chocolate, but you don’t want to risk feeding them something that could damage them.
Even if you don’t maintain squirrels but have a few wandering about your yard, you should provide healthful food for them.
Just as humans “be what they eat,” animals become as healthy or unhealthy as the things they consume over time. The cumulative impact of consuming chocolates is usually not something a squirrel wants.
Bottom line: don’t feed chocolates.
What is squirrels’ favorite food?
The majority of squirrels are vegetarians. They are not picky eaters and will eat almost any meal provided, but they favor veggies and fruit. Corn, mushrooms, squash, and broccoli are the squirrel’s favorite foods. Apples, oranges, apricots, and avocados are other favorites. Check out the list of foods squirrels eat and what they should avoid.