Wondering if squirrels can eat chocolate. Unfortunately, it is not safe to feed squirrels chocolate. Chocolate contains a certain chemical called an alkaloid, which can very easily poison them. Dogs are sensitive to the same chemical, although it will kill a dog much faster than a squirrel.
I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve seen an adorable little squirrel hopping around in the park as we’ve been eating lunch outside. You might be tempted to give the sweet little critter a crumb of that chocolate bar you’re eating, but can you? Is it safe to give them chocolate?
So what is this chemical, and why exactly can you not feed it to squirrels? We’ll go through the details below.
Related Reading: Can You Eat Squirrel? Is It Nutritious? [ANSWERED]
Why Can’t Squirrels Eat Chocolate?
As mentioned earlier, the main reason that squirrels can’t eat chocolate is that it contains a certain chemical called alkaloid. Specifically, this alkaloid is called Theobromine, which is produced by certain kinds of plants as a defense against getting eaten.
Theobromine is toxic for many different kinds of mammals, including dogs and squirrels. Dogs are much more sensitive to Theobromine than squirrels, but both will suffer similar symptoms and die if given too much.
The symptoms that these animals will suffer include:
- Muscle tremors
- Irregular heart rate
The amount it takes to kill a squirrel is measured in LD50, or how much it would take to kill 50% of the subject which consumes the poison. In humans, for example, is about 1000mg/kg, meaning that a human would need to eat around a whole kilogram of chocolate to get poisoned by Theobromine.
For a squirrel, this lethal dosage is around 0.5mg for the average body weight for a squirrel, so they cannot eat much chocolate at all without getting sick.
Will Squirrels Eat Chocolate Anyway?
This is important to note: despite how poisonous chocolate is to them, squirrels will still happily chomp down on as much chocolate as they can get their paws on.
They are opportunistic creatures and will eat human leftovers and any food we leave in the trash.
They are also so much smaller than humans that what people might consider a ‘small amount’ of food to give them is much more than they need.
Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate Covered Nuts Or Other Sweet Foods?
We know that squirrels will eat nuts and acorns, but can they eat chocolate-covered nuts? The answer there is no, it would not be great to feed a squirrel chocolate-covered anything, even if it was just a small amount.
Some of the other foodstuffs that should be avoided (but squirrels will still cheerfully eat anyway) include:
- Chocolate spread
Basically, anything with too much sugar in it should not be given to squirrels as their digestive systems are not made to handle human food and could be made vulnerable to a plethora of health issues.
Which Chocolate Types Have The Most Theobromine?
So, let’s say you have a pet squirrel, and they might have been nibbling at your snack pile. What types of chocolate are the worst in terms of Theobromine?
Well, there are some calculations that can label which kind of chocolate is the most dangerous for your pet to eat:
- Baking chocolate – 376mg per square ounce
- Dark chocolate – 228mg per square ounce
- Hot chocolate powder – 170mg per cup
- Chocolate bars – 175mg per 1.5 ounces bar
- Dark chocolate covered coffee beans – 147mg per ounce (approximately 30 beans)
- Cocoa powder – 142mg per 3.5 ounces
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 138mg per ounce
Can Squirrels Eat White Chocolate?
White chocolate is a little bit of an exception amongst all of this, as they generally have less Theobromine. This is because they have fewer non-fat cocoa solids, which contain the most Theobromine in them.
With that being said, some brands of white chocolate can have up to 35% cocoa solids which means there’s no guarantee that it’s safe, depending on the brand. Besides, sweet and fatty human foods should not really be fed to squirrels
Can Squirrels Eat The Cocoa Plant?
Strangely, squirrels can eat the cocoa plants without any trouble. Many animals aside from humans and squirrels enjoy the cocoa plant, such as:
It may sound odd that squirrels can eat the cocoa plant when they can’t eat chocolate, but the plant and beans are so heavily processed that the plant itself is safe for squirrels.
What Is Safe To Feed To Squirrels?
If you want to give the squirrels in your garden a little treat, then there are plenty of things that squirrels love to eat that people can feed them and won’t make them sick.
As a rule of thumb, you want to keep away from overly sugary and fatty foods. They have trouble digesting those kinds of things. Their natural and healthy diets are typical:
So you should aim to recreate those kinds of treats for any squirrels you would like to feed. Therefore, some of the best things which you can feed a squirrel include:
- Unsalted peanuts
- In shell peanuts (very good exercise for the cuties as they need to de shell it)
- In shell walnuts
- In shell sunflower seeds
- Hickory nuts
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
That’s just to name a few, but it should give you a good idea of what is great to feed your little squirrel friends. All of these little things will give them a dose of healthy protein, as well as both entertainment and exercise if they need to de-shell the in-shell ones.
Continue Reading: What to Feed Squirrels In Your Backyard [DIFFERENT OPTIONS]
So overall, squirrels are not able to eat chocolate due to an alkaloid called Theobromine, which is the same chemical that makes dogs sick if they eat it. The amount of Theobromine in the chocolate varies per type, with baking chocolate having the highest amount and white chocolate having the lowest amount.
However squirrels should not be fed any kind of chocolate as the sugar and the fat is not good for their digestive system. Instead, they should be fed fruits, unsalted, in-shell nuts, and seeds.