Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate? Do Squirrels Go 'Nuts' For Cocoa?

Aryan Khanna
Jan 20, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Ground Squirrel eating with hands bushy tail.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

You know that gray squirrels should not be fed bread and dogs should not be fed chocolates, but the crossover is something you might not have thought of.

Squirrels belong to the rodent family. Similar to many other animals they are smart enough in picking what to eat as they themselves are aware of what is and isn't healthy for them. However, every now and then mistakes do happen.

There are two questions here: can squirrels eat chocolate and do they eat it? First of all, squirrels should not eat chocolate, candy, junk food, cocoa powder or even human food.

The theobromine content in chocolate is poisonous for small animals like squirrels. Next, squirrels usually do not eat baking chocolate as these animals are self-conscious of their health and know very well what might kill them.

However, sometimes, accidentally, squirrels eat small amounts of chocolate. If consumed in small quantities once in a blue moon, it might not lead to grave health issues for squirrels, but if consumed in large quantities, it can be fatal.

In addition to chocolates, squirrels shouldn't consume candy or dark chocolate. Even if humans disregard the fact that chocolate does not have any health benefits, the high sugar content in it and the cellulose in it cannot be digested by squirrels.

This is applicable not only for park squirrels but also for wild squirrels living in forests. The theobromine content in a chocolate cake is equally dangerous for all types of squirrels.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about if squirrels are nocturnalandif squirrels can get rabies here on Kidadl?

Are all chocolates toxic to squirrels?

It is best if these rodents don't eat dark or white chocolate; not only are they absent of healthy nutrients but also contain theobromine which is dangerous to most animals including the likes of dogs and cats.

What might surprise you is, even though chocolates are made of cocoa, it is safe for squirrels, as well as other animals to consume cocoa plants. Monkeys and bats living in jungles are known to consume quite a lot of the cocoa plant.

It is the refining of the cocoa plant into chocolate that then makes it harmful for consumption for other animals.

Some chocolate might not be as harmful as other chocolate and every animal might not be affected in a similar intensity, but it is better for squirrels in particular, and animals, in general, to refrain from consuming chocolate.

A bar of white chocolate does not contain as much cocoa as dark chocolate but its sugar and cellulose content are quite high which a squirrel's system cannot easily digest. It is advisable to feed your squirrel with nuts and some juicy fruits rather than chocolates.

Be careful: even though squirrels can eat nuts, make sure they aren't fed chocolate-covered nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts as they are equally harmful and aren't safe for a squirrel to consume.

Can wild squirrels eat chocolate?

The digestion and body mechanism of all kinds of rodents are quite similar. Whether it is a squirrel in your backyard or one belonging to the wildlife, its body reacts the same way to chocolates.

Wild squirrels shouldn't eat chocolate. The alkaloid theobromine present in chocolates internally harms a squirrel and damages its organs.

If consumed in large quantities, it can lead to a squirrel's death. Excess of theobromine in a squirrel's body leads to seizures, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, diarrhea, and death, at times.

The content, and thus, the toxicity of theobromine is relatively large in dark chocolates compared to white chocolates. White chocolates, on the other hand, do not have any healthy nutrients in them. The same is the case for chipmunks as well.

A bar of chocolate can affect a chipmunk the same way it does a tree squirrel or a wild squirrel. Chocolates can kill a chipmunk, too, if consumed in large amounts.

Squirrel in wild.

Can squirrels eat chocolate in moderation?

Feeding squirrels in moderation is a concept or rather a belief that some pet owners have, but it usually goes out the window when applied practically. Squirrels, even though they are smart in most cases, do not seem to have control over themselves when offered chocolates.

It has been observed that if a squirrel is provided with an entire bar of chocolate, it will consume as much as possible, possibly filling itself to the brim.

Additionally, once a squirrel sees that it has some part of the chocolate left, it will store it for future consumption. This behavior is shown by squirrels in the case of nuts too as they store them for consumption later in winter days when squirrels do not prefer to go out in search of food.

Talking about the amount of chocolate that could harm a squirrel, an average squirrel has a body weight of around 20.81 oz (590 g).

At this level of body mass, even small amounts, i.e., 0.000017 oz (0.5 mg) of theobromine, can prove to be fatal for a squirrel. On average, 35.27 oz (1,000 g) of dark chocolate contains 0.53 oz (15 g) of theobromine.

The quantity is less in white chocolate as every 35.27 oz (1,000 g) of milk chocolate contains approximately 0.052-0.07 oz (1.5-2 g) of theobromine.

This is way less than a dark chocolate bar but enough to harm a squirrel. The most commonly available weight of a chocolate bar is 3.53 oz (100 g) and it has 0.045 oz (1,297 mg) of theobromine in it.

Interestingly, if you want to offer something to your squirrel to eat as a treat, peanut butter in moderation can be a good option.

Can squirrels eat chocolate-covered almonds?

Squirrels can eat nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, acorns, cashews, and walnuts, as well as fruit and vegetables. Any kind of nut will do as long as it isn't covered in chocolate. Not only does the addition of chocolate offset existing nutrients it might also prove to be harmful in some cases.

Almonds covered in chocolate aren't as harmful as a raw chocolate bar, but it makes no sense to feed a squirrel chocolate-covered almonds when healthier alternatives are available. The rational behavior of humans must be to feed it nuts and seeds of any kind and juicy fruit and to keep a squirrel safe must be the topmost priority.

Some humans these days are curious to know if chocolates has any kind of beneficial value for squirrels.

No chocolate of any kind is beneficial for a squirrel to eat. On the contrary, it only harms a squirrel's inner body system and can lead to diarrhea or even death at times if consumed in excessive quantity.

How long does it take for chocolate to affect a squirrel?

There is no hard and fast rule about how much time chocolate takes to prove its toxicity for squirrels. The time taken or the intensity usually varies depending upon the amount of chocolate consumed and how vulnerable the squirrel is.

The condition is similar for other animals as well; chocolate is harmful to almost all animal species but the intensity varies from animal to animal.

If the theobromine content in chocolate is high, such as that in dark chocolate, the time taken for it to affect a squirrel will be relatively less than that taken by a bar of white chocolate or normal milk chocolate.

Even chocolate cake and cocoa powder are also harmful to squirrels as their sugar content is way higher than what a healthy squirrel requires and can digest. Its liver isn't able to digest all that high sugar content.

Candy can also be dangerous for a squirrel although not as much as white chocolate or dark chocolate.

Can squirrels eat the cacao plant?

This might be a bit surprising after reading how harmful chocolates prove to be to squirrels, but the cacao plant is not harmful for squirrel consumption. In fact, for years now, squirrels have been eating cacao plants without any noted side effects or danger.

This might seem a bit odd but cocoa, which is used in making chocolates, the life-threatening element for a squirrel,is a product of the cacao tree.

However, unlike cocoa, its parent plant, the cacao tree does not harm a squirrel in any way and is fit for their consumption. Not only squirrels but other animals like monkeys and bats are known to consume cacao trees.

In conclusion, chocolates, even if it is white chocolate, must not be fed to squirrels or to your pet such as dogs or cats at any cost.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for can squirrels eat chocolate, then why not take a look at baby squirrel care or spotted ground squirrel facts?

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

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Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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