There is a lot of controversy out there in Squirrel Care Land about whether you should feed squirrels Avocado. If you believe what you read on "The Squirrel Board" about feeding Avocado, you'll get all nervous about certain people's uninformed warning about not giving your squirrels too much Avocado because, after all, it's loaded with saturated fat!
Let's clear the air right now about this saturated fat controversy. You can eat all the saturated fats you want, in their natural form, and not cause a blip on your lipid profile, ( except to bring your lipids into the right balance.) Also, eating saturated fats in their natural form will not cause you to gain weight! Take a close look at Ariel above. She is ready to move to our release cage. She has been fed two large chunks of Avocado every day since she was weaned last Fall. Does she look overweight? On the contrary, she is sleek and trim and an ideal weight for a squirrel her size.
The secret to Saturated Fat consumption is to make sure you consume them in their natural form! The fat contained in Avocados is loaded with all the good Omega Fatty Acids that are needed for growth, development and maintenance of body tissues. The problem comes when Saturated Fats are hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a process whereby oils in their natural state are subjected to an electrical process where two nickel electrodes are placed in a vat containing the oil, and then electrified. A byproduct of this procedure is hydrogen gas which bubbles up through the oil. The effect of this gas upon the oil is that it destroys all the Essential Fatty Acids, (aka the Omega Fatty Acids.) Essential Fatty Acids, ( as the name implies,) are essential. They are essential for good health. So, why would anyone want to destroy something that is good and essential?
I'm glad you asked! The reason companies hydrogenate their oils is because the essential fatty acids are very fragile and break down very rapidly. When EFA's break down, they cause the oil to go rancid. So, companies destroy what is good just so their product can sit on a store shelf for years without going rancid!
The real health kicker in all this is that the same Hydrogenation process that destroys Essential Fatty Acids, also creates a new and different fat called a "Transformed Fat" or Trans fat. This new, manmade fat is the real culprit in Coronary Artery Disease, but you can't get anybody to admit it. They all dance around the subject, and many products are showing up on Store shelves claiming to be "Trans Fat Free," but you won't see anybody doing anything about eliminating trans fats from processed oils because there is no other method of giving oil a long shelf life without hydrogenation. Eliminating all trans fats would destroy the vegetable oil industry.
The bottom line is, don't be afraid to feed your squirrels Saturated Fat in its natural form! They're not going to become obese, you are providing them an excellent form of energy, and the essential fatty acids they gain will ensure their good health!