The other day we were outside filling up the squirrel feeders and a squirrel grabbed a piece of my chocolate bar and took off running. It got me to wonder, “can squirrels eat chocolate,” and if so, is it actually safe for them?
Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate?
After doing some research, I found that chocolate contains a toxic substance called Theobromine and if fed to squirrels in large amounts, it can kill them. However, squirrels are survivalists and most of them will NOT overeat dangerous foods that can poison them unless they can’t find other food sources.
Basically, chocolate is NOT safe for any animal to eat, it’s also dangerous to humans if eaten in small amounts. This is why I recommend feeding your backyard squirrels Wild Delight Squirrel food they will love and it won’t harm them.
Now, we all know that squirrels eat anything they can get their hands on. That’s why I’ve written a huge article on in-depth article on what squirrels eat, to help you get started feeding your backyard critters.
Why Chocolate Is Dangerous For Squirrels and Other Animals
You’ve probably heard that chocolate is bad for dogs and cats. An Eastern grey squirrel weighs about 1.3 lbs. This means that just by consuming 0.5 mg of theobromine, can poison them.
Yes, chocolate is poisonous to squirrels in large amounts.
There isn’t a lot of information on the Internet that talks about whether or not chocolate is bad for squirrels or NOT. However, if it’s bad for cats and dogs, I personally wouldn’t feed them a candy bar.
Theobromine is a compound that exists in a variety of plants, especially, the cacao bean. However, this compound can also be found in some tea leaves, coffee beans, and guarana berries.
This doesn’t mean that squirrels don’t love chocolate. In fact, they will steal it the first chance that they get, take a look at this squirrel stealing a chocolate candy bar from a store.
As humans, we all love chocolate, whether it’s dark, white or comes in the shape of a chocolate Twinkie. Now let’s take a look at whether other types of chocolate are good for your backyard buddies.
I’ve put together some of the best foods to feed squirrels in your yard, that won’t cause them any harm.
Is Chocolate Toxic to Squirrels?
Yes, it is toxic to squirrels, dogs, cats, and other pets. The level of toxicity will vary depending on the type of chocolate, amount consumed, and the weight and size of the animal that eats it.
The symptoms of theobromine or chocolate poisoning can vary and the symptoms will usually consist of diarrhea, trembling, hyperactivity, excitement, muscle tremors, seizures, increased heart rate, and even death.
Can Squirrels Eat Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate contains a higher dose of theobromine that is found in milk chocolate candy. According to The Squirrel Board, they can digest chocolate and if they eat it in small amounts, they will be fine.
Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate Covered Almonds?
No, you should never feed squirrels chocolate covered almonds, peanuts, cashews or any other type of nut. While it’s true that these small rodents love eating nuts such as; walnuts, macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts.
Avoid feeding them any type of chocolate to keep them safe.
Chocolates High In Theobromine
While you can’t stop a squirrel from stealing food, it’s important to know which foods can be dangerous for them. The following chocolate products have the highest amounts of theobromine.
- Baking Chocolate – 376mg per square ounce
- Dark Chocolate – 228mg per square ounce
- Hot Cocoa – 170mg per cup
- Sweet Chocolate Candies – 175mg per 1.5 ounce bar
- Dark Chocolate Coated Coffee Beans – 147mg per ounce (28 beans)
- Cocoa Powder – 142mg per 100 grams
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – 138mg per 1oz handful
- Chocolate Wafers – 21mg per wafer
Is White Chocolate Bad for them?
While white chocolate does not contain non-fat cocoa solids, therefore, it does not contain huge amounts of theobromine. However, some white chocolate brands of white chocolate can still be dangerous because they can contain up to 35% cocoa solids.
White chocolate contains a high level of fat and sugar. It does not contain any valuable nutrients that your bushy-tailed friends.
I personally wouldn’t go out of the way to feed them anything that can cause them to get sick or could possibly even kill them.
If you’re feeding the wildlife in your backyard, then you should avoid feeding them human food and feed them foods that are good for them and provide them with the nutrients they require.
Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies?
Squirrels do not typically eat chocolate chip cookies or cake, however, they are opportunistic feeders that will eat anything they can get their paws on.
If you see a squirrel in a tree eating a chocolate chip cookie, most likely, it is NOT because someone fed it to them. It’s likely that a kid was eating a cookie and dropped a piece and the squirrel found it and took it back to their drey or store it for the winter.
Squirrels usually come into contact with popcorn, cranberries, Oreos, cake, cookies, and etc when humans expose it to them.
Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate Cake?
No, squirrels shouldn’t eat cake, pies, cobbler, Nutella, or any other type of sweets. These small animals require a diet that consists of nuts, berries, seeds, fungi, plants and etc that can be found in their natural habitat.
Feeding them cookies, Oreos, candy, and etc, will mess with their digestive system and make them vulnerable to health issues. Squirrels would be fine if humans didn’t feed them at all.
That doesn’t mean you can’t set up a squirrel feeder and feed them, just make sure you’re feeding them wild squirrel food or other foods that won’t harm them.
Is Chocolate Bad for Squirrels and What To Feed Them?
Now that you know chocolate is bad for squirrels, let’s look at what you can feed them. After all, if you’re like us, you enjoy watching them in your backyard eating from their feeder or house.
The best squirrel food is the type of food that gives them all the nutrients they require. A squirrels diet should consist mainly of seeds, nuts, fruits, and fungi. I’ve put together a list of 3 of the best nuts for backyard squirrels.
Most people think that squirrels only eat nuts, but this isn’t true. They are mostly omnivores and they love eating plants, and some even eat meat.
Our grey squirrels eat pretty much anything, but we try feeding them the best squirrel food that provides them the nutrients they need. The best part is the squirrel feed is inexpensive and can be purchased on Amazon.
Feeding them their own food has saved us tons of money on birdseed and cat food money. Even if you don’t feed them, they will find other things to eat in your garden, and anywhere else they find food.
Why not feed them and just enjoy watching them play in your backyard, we’ve done that and now we spend more time on our deck.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Chocolate Kill Squirrels? As mentioned above, if fed in large quantities, it can be fatal to rodents and other animals.
Is Chocolate Good for Squirrels? No, however, this doesn’t mean that they won’t eat it. Squirrels are opportunistic feeders that will eat anything they can find. Squirrels thrive best when their diet consists of nuts, grain, seeds, and fruit.
What Animals Can Eat Chocolate? The ingredient cocoa in chocolate is extremely harmful to animals and can lead to poison and potentially death.
Final Word Is Chocolate Safe For Squirrels?
After doing some research, I don’t think that there are any animals that can eat chocolate.
If you enjoy feeding squirrels whether in your backyard or the public, make sure you don’t feed them any candy of any type, especially chocolate.
It’s best to avoid feeding squirrels in public because they can become dependent on people to feed them. Instead, feed the squirrels that visit your yard.
References and Further Reading
TCHO – 8 Potential Health Benefits Of Theobromine Found In Chocolate
My Food Data – Top 10 Chocolate Products In Theobromine
Market Screener – Hotel Chocolate Group PLC (HOTC)