We all know dogs and cats shouldn’t eat chocolate, but what about mice?
If you have a mouse infestation, or perhaps just a pet mouse or two, you may be wondering if it’s safe or dangerous for them to eat chocolate.
Read this article to learn the facts and to make the best decisions for your specific mouse situation!
Does chocolate kill mice instantly?
There has actually been surprisingly little professional research done the relationship between mice and chocolate. However, the general consensus from people with pet mice and from scientists’ lab studies involving mice and chocolate is that chocolate (in SMALL amounts) does NOT kill mice instantly.
Although, chocolate does contain theobromine, a harmful chemical for all animals which impacts the nervous and circulatory systems. Theobromine is located within the cacao plant itself and is released as a type of defense mechanism when an animal eats the seeds. But even after turning cacao into chocolate, high amounts of theobromine remain. Thankfully, humans do not have to worry about theobromine because our livers are exceptionally efficient at filtering the chemical out of our bodies. But smaller animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, rats, and mice do need to watch out for their theobromine intake.
Interestingly enough, mice also have exceptionally strong livers, but their small size and enormous appetites for delicious chocolate puts them at high risk for theobromine poisoning if they consume too much of it. So while chocolate is not dangerous enough to kill mice instantly, it is still toxic and potentially lethal in high amounts.
With all that being said, you may be wondering if it is still safe for your mice or mouse to eat chocolate.
Pet Mice and Chocolate – is it safe to feed?
Well, the answer to this question ultimately depends on what you feel comfortable with. If you want to play it extremely safe, DO NOT give any chocolate to your mouse—there are plenty of other types of food that a mouse would like to eat that are not toxic. However, if you want to treat him with the occasional piece of chocolate, most vets and health specialists say that it is acceptable for you to give your mouse a small piece of chocolate (no more than they can hold in their hands) every two weeks—any more than that and you are increasing your mouse’s chances of enduring any theobromine complications.
If you just can’t resist treating your mouse to more chocolate more frequently, a safer alternative is feeding him white chocolate, which has a much lower theobromine concentration and is less likely to cause poisoning.
Again, it is surprising (and frustrating) that there isn’t more specific information on this matter. It is unclear what the lethal dosage of chocolate is for mice. It may be that you could feed your mouse more than a small piece of chocolate every two weeks, but this is NOT something that I, nor vets recommend, for the results are inconclusive, and it is not something that most pet mice owners want to experiment with.
Dark Chocolate versus Milk Chocolate
A test conducted by the admin at Rentokil, a pest control blog, discovered that mice are more attracted to and prefer to eat chocolates with a high sugar content. The test used milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and very dark chocolate:
- milk chocolate: 20% cacao, 56% sugar
- white chocolate: 30% cacao butter, 52% sugar
- dark chocolate: 62% cacao, 38% sugar
- very dark chocolate: 85% cacao, 15% sugar
The results are quite interesting. The mice spent the most time near the white chocolate, but actually ate milk chocolate the most, indicating that while white chocolate may be the most appealing to mice, they prefer to eat milk chocolate instead. What is also interesting is that the mice did not eat ANY of the two dark chocolates. However, it is entirely possible that this was because there was both milk chocolate and white chocolate in the same room of the test, and so they choose to exclusively eat the more sugary chocolates. Needless to say, a mouse will enjoy milk chocolate the most and white chocolate the second most.
Using Chocolate as Bait
Chocolate is an excellent choice of bait to get rid of mice. Two foods that mice love to eat are chocolate and peanut butter. Either one will work as bait, and many people have had great success using chocolate covered peanut butter. You might have once heard or read that cheese is the most effective type of bait for mice, but chocolate is actually much more effective, for mice cannot resist the high sugar content. Mice eat and like cheese too, but mice like sugar much more.
If you are going to use chocolate as bait, it is important to use it on mouse traps and not as bait by itself. In other words, while chocolate is highly toxic to mice in large amounts, you may not want to place pieces or bars or chocolate out for mice to eat because the chocolate may end up attracting more mice into your home. So, instead, you should place a small amount of chocolate, or chocolate covered peanut butter, on a mouse trap of your choosing. Also try to avoid dark chocolate or chocolates with low sugar content because mice do not love that bitter taste.
What foods are poisonous to mice?
There are many foods poisonous to mice, but many of these foods, including chocolate, are poisonous only in (relatively) large amounts. These foods are considered poisonous and toxic to mice:
Again, chocolate is only poisonous to mice in large enough amounts, so it is possible for you to still occasionally feed your mouse a small amount.
If you want to be extra careful with your pet mice, I recommend you keep mice away from all of these foods, as there are many other much safer options. Furthermore, you may want to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as candies, ice cream, and fast food, as they are not great for their health, and mice like to eat them a lot.