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Can lizards eat chocolate?

Different types of lizards like iguanas, skinks, bearded dragons and tegus can eat a variety of “human” food that ranges from vegetables to fruits and in some cases even eggs, fish, and meat products. When it comes to heavily processed foods, which include chocolate, it is best to think twice before feeding them to your pet.

Bearded dragon lizard surrounded by chocolate
Bearded dragon vs chocolate

The general consensus it that chocolate is not safe for consumption by lizards or reptiles of any kind. As a matter of fact, there are very few species animals in the world that can digest chocolate, because of some compounds and chemicals contained in it.

Chocolate is toxic to animals, but not humans

Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine, which causes heart palpitations, blood vessels dilatation, muscle relaxation and has a diuretic effect. In humans, this chemical is easily digested and doesn’t stay in a person’s metabolism long enough to have negative effects; in other species of animals, however, this can lead to health complications and even death.

Simply put, the reason chocolate is toxic to animals is that their metabolism is slower than that of humans, and the chemicals in chocolate stay in their body for much longer. Reptiles have even slower metabolisms than mammals, which is why feeding chocolate to lizards and snakes is strongly discouraged.

Furthermore, many chocolate treats contain high amounts of refined sugars and/or dairy, which reptiles cannot digest and can lead to a variety of other health complications.

Do lizards like chocolate?

Some people claim that their tegus or bearded dragons love chocolate and are able to eat it without health complications. This is risky and should be avoided. Large lizards may be able to ingest small amounts of chocolate without problems, but their body will still take longer and have more difficulty digesting and getting rid of the potentially toxic compounds in chocolate.

If lizards show appreciation for a chocolate treat, it is usually because of the added sugars and sweeteners in it, not because of the cocoa itself. These artificial sweeteners and refined sugars are not healthy and can lead to yet another series of health complications such as obesity.

The best thing you can do to sooth your pet’s sweet tooth is to replace chocolate with fruits such as bananas, berries, and grapes. These are high in natural sugars which are much easier to digest, but should still be offered as a treat and not on a regular basis.

What to do if your lizard ate some chocolate

In most cases, if your pet lizard accidentally eats small amount of chocolate there is no need to panic. If the snack contained dairy (such as in the case of milk chocolate), then your lizard will likely experience an upset stomach, but will recover quickly.

If large amounts of chocolate have been consumed, seek the assistance of a vet ASAP. Early symptoms of chocolate poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, and health palpitations. The most severe cases can lead to seizure and death.

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