If you’ve ever had a raccoon visit your trash cans in the middle of the night or had to call raccoon control experts for removal, you know that these bothersome creatures enjoy pillaging human food. Whether it’s old apple cores or wrappers from a fast-food hamburger, raccoons are happy to devour all of it. Like humans, raccoons have highly developed taste buds that recognize savoury and sweet flavours. They’re not fussy eaters, and they’re accustomed to an omnivorous diet that includes insects, reptiles, birds, plants, berries, seeds and human trash. A piece of a candy bar or the remains of a chocolate cake is fair game for a raccoon, but consuming chocolate can have deadly consequences.
Is Chocolate Harmful to Raccoons?
Raccoons love eating chocolate and any treat with sugar in it, but chocolate can be toxic to the animals. Their digestive systems are not designed to break down cacao, and they can experience side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea and excessive urination. If a raccoon ingests a quantity of chocolate comparable to a typical human portion, the animal can die. A raccoon has a much lower body weight than a human, and its system can tolerate about 1/3 the amount of chocolate as the human digestive system.
Although dark chocolate is marketed as a healthy alternative to milk chocolate, it can be even more deadly to raccoons. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate both contain caffeine and theobromine, and these compounds are indigestible and can cause the animal’s kidneys to shut down. Cacao beans and coffee grounds can also disrupt the animals’ systems and lead to death. Raccoons can be irritating when they tear open your garbage bags and spread the trash around your yard, but try to minimize your chocolate waste to protect the creatures’ health. Keep your garbage bags sealed tight and store them in a durable container that has a closing latch to prevent raccoons from lifting the lid open.
What Other Foods Are Harmful to Raccoons?
Raccoons are not fierce hunters, preferring to feast on half-eaten leftovers. Although some homeowners may enjoy feeding “pet” raccoons, avoid feeding the creatures at all costs. They may seem cute, but they can spread diseases such as rabies and Lyme disease, and their numbers quickly increase when they find a reliable food source.
In addition, human foods can be bad for these critters. Besides chocolate, other foods that can injure or kill raccoons include:
- Avocados: Although they’re a healthy addition to a human’s diet, avocados are harmful to raccoons. They can choke on avocado seeds and get sick from ingesting the fruit. It contains the compound persin that can cause heart failure, diarrhea and vomiting. Since guacamole is made from avocado, remember to dump out-of-date guacamole in the garbage disposal or a sealed garbage bag.
- Candy and cookies: Processed sweets and most human junk food is harmful to raccoons. Preservatives and complex sugars are difficult for the creatures to digest. Some candy and chewing gum contain xylitol, which can cause liver failure and seizures.
- Chips and other savoury snacks: Potato chips, tortilla chips and seasoned crackers often have high levels of sugar and preservatives that can make raccoons sick and eventually kill them if they consume too much.
- Onions and spices: Sulfoxides and disulphides in onions are toxic to raccoons, damaging the creature’s red blood cells and causing anemia.
How Do You Keep Raccoons Away From Your Property?
Raccoons have an enhanced sense of smell, and if they smell the remnants of an outdoor meal under a picnic table or on the deck, these scavengers can visit your home repeatedly to check for additional meals. Keeping your property clean and securing your trash cans can prevent nighttime visits. However, if a raccoon family builds a nest in your attic or chimney, do not attempt to remove them.
When you need wildlife removal in Barrie, contact Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control. We can remove the animals humanely and return them to the wild.