Foods That Are Poisonous To Chipmunks

foods that are poisonous to chipmunks

The correct diet is vital for any animal, and chipmunks are no exception. Many people assume that chipmunks only eat acorns and nuts. This is not true; they eat a wide variety of plant and animal food. Some foods are poisonous to chipmunks and can make them sick or cause them to die. If you like feeding them when they visit your yard, it’s best to be aware of these foods.  

Avocado pear is poisonous to chipmunks. The nuts or seeds of stone fruits and apples contain toxins harmful to chipmunks. Xylitol and chocolate will kill chipmunks that consume them. Garlic and onion may be harmful, but sometimes squirrels seek them out, possibly to self-medicate. 

Chili and cayenne pepper are toxic to people, which is why some people use them as repellants. 

People are not very good at instinctively knowing what food is bad for them. Chipmunks are usually better at avoiding poisonous foods. They can be confused by new, unfamiliar foods that may be poisonous for them, and they may eat these, poisoning themselves. 

Are There Foods That Are Poisonous To Chipmunks?     

People often assume that anything safe for humans must also be safe for chipmunks. This is not true, as our digestive systems differ widely. Humans are much larger and can withstand some substances better than chipmunks.

People tend to be more selective in their eating habits and will not eat the entire food item. 

For example, we eat peaches and apricots but never eat the pits. Chipmunks will eat the entire fruit, including the pit, which is toxic.  

Avocado Pear 

Many people regard avocado pear as a treat, and it is even touted as a superfood for humans. But is it good for chipmunks?

If you own dogs, cats, or birds, you will know that avocado pear cannot be fed to them. It can also be harmful to chipmunks. 

This food item does not occur naturally in a chipmunk’s habitat, so they are unfamiliar with it and may be tempted to try it. 

Avocado pear contains persin, which is a fat-soluble fungicidal toxin. 

It is present in all parts of an avocado plant and is poisonous for most animals. Dogs and cats can tolerate small amounts, but large quantities are toxic. 

Chipmunks are much smaller than dogs and cats, and even small amounts of persin can damage their internal system. Persin affects the heart muscles and suppresses the respiratory system. 

Digestion can cause the rodent to become weak and unable to breathe. 

Persin also causes hemorrhaging of the mammary glands and mastitis in lactating chipmunks. This would directly impact any babies that a mother chipmunk is feeding, and they would also probably die. 

Fruit Seeds 

Stone fruits such as apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries have seeds, pits, or stones containing an amygdalin. The amygdalin is broken down into toxic hydrogen cyanide when the pit is ingested. 

Although large animals will not suffer from ingesting small numbers of pits, small animals, such as chipmunks, are much more vulnerable. 

When ingested, it can lead to stomach cramps, headaches, vomiting, and cardiac and respiratory issues. 

Even a tiny amount of hydrogen cyanide is enough to kill chipmunks. 

Apples have small seeds, but they also contain trace amounts of cyanide. Chipmunks can eat apples, but apple seeds are likely toxic to chipmunks due to their low body weight.  


Mushrooms are a favorite food of chipmunks. They eat them fresh and dry them out to store them in their food cache. 

Many mushrooms are highly poisonous and deadly for people, so are chipmunks vulnerable to these poisons? 

Chipmunks seem to have developed an immunity to toxins in mushrooms, even death cap mushrooms. The rodents can eat mushrooms without any ill effects. It is interesting to note that chipmunks often eat only parts of mushrooms. 

Garlic And Onions 

Garlic and onions contain high levels of sulfur, which can damage red blood cells affecting their ability to carry oxygen. There is no direct evidence to show if garlic and onions are toxic to chipmunks. 

Generally, chipmunks avoid eating garlic, onions, and chives as they seem to dislike the taste. Researchers and observers have noted that, at times, chipmunks seem to seek out garlic, onions, and chives. They carefully peel the outer layers before eating them. 

Scientists suggest that chipmunks may eat these bulbs as a means of self-medicating. 

Garlic, onions, and chives are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. They may contribute to improving the chipmunk’s health or counteracting an infection which is why they are only selected as food at certain times. 


Sadly, people litter, throwing down chewing gum, sweet wrappers, and other junk food. Some of this may contain xylitol, especially chewing gum and diet drinks. 

Chipmunks are curious and always on the search for food. Like squirrels, they are opportunistic feeders and may eat some of these discarded food items, exposing themselves to xylitol. 

There are no specific studies that look at chipmunks’ tolerance for xylitol. 

Based on the reaction of other animals, it is likely that xylitol is poisonous for chipmunks. Do not feed pet chipmunks xylitol, and do not litter as it could endanger wild chipmunks aside from destroying the environment. 

Xylitol is absorbed rapidly in animals and stimulates insulin secretion, precipitating severe low blood sugar, which causes seizures and possible death.


Chocolate contains theobromine which is harmless to people but poisonous to most animals. A chipmunks’ small size makes them more vulnerable to the effects of theobromine, a cardiac stimulant. 

If a chipmunk eats chocolate, it will be at risk of suffering from cardiac collapse or a heart attack due to overstimulation. The effects are based on how much chocolate the chipmunk eats. 

A small crumb will probably not affect the chipmunk, but larger quantities will. 

There may also be individual variations in the sensitivity of chipmunks to theobromine. Dark chocolate contains more theobromine than regular milk chocolate. 

White chocolate has the least amount of theobromine but should still not be fed to chipmunks. 

Final Word

Some foods are poisonous to chipmunks, and they generally avoid these unless they are novel foods that chipmunks have no experience with. 

Chipmunks can eat some foods poisonous to people, and the opposite is also true. Wild chipmunks are unlikely to poison themselves with natural food. They are more likely to be harmed by food and litter discarded by people. 

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