In short, yes, you can eat squirrel. Before you do so, you need to consider legal and safety aspects.
In some places killing a squirrel can be illegal. Additionally, squirrels can carry diseases that you should be aware of.
Is It Safe To Eat Squirrel?
Squirrel meat has been eaten throughout history. So, there is plenty of experience with eating squirrels.
Some things to consider are:
- Tickborne diseases
- Fleaborne diseases
- Environmental Toxins
Diseases like lyme disease can be very dangerous. But keep in mind that you can’t get it from handling meat. The danger comes from being in close proximity to ticks that may carry the disease.
This is also the case for fleaborne illnesses.
Parasites are uncommon but can exist. Cooking meat thoroughly is usually the fix.
Environmental toxins can be difficult to detect. For example, if you live in an area where pesticides and herbicides are commonly used, this can have an impact.
Squirrels eat seeds and other plant material. Herbicides can get into plants and potentially contaminate the animals that eat them.
Other environmental toxins including pesticides can make their way into the meat. Of course, this applies most animals. So, if you’re in an area where many herbicides or pesticides are used, you may want to avoid eating squirrel.
Another aspect is safe meat handling. Ensure you cook meat thoroughly. If you’re going to be storing it make sure you freeze it.
Finally, make sure you read all local and national safety guidelines before you go ahead and start eating rodents.
For more information check out this CDC site.
Can You Hunt Squirrels In Your Yard?
If you live in a city the chances that you will be able to legally hunt squirrels are slim. The key here is to check with your local Department Of Natural Resources. This can also be known as the Game and Fish Commission.
Once you get out of the city, the probability that you can hunt squirrel will increase.
This will be especially true is you plan on hunting with traps, slingshots or even air guns.
Once you involve archery or firearms, things can get even more restrictive.
You’ll potentially need to get a license and permits.
In rural areas, there are locations where you’re free to hunt nuisance animals freely. Squirrels can fall into this category.
Baiting squirrels is also a practice that is commonly used to draw squirrels into an area. You’ll need to find out if this is legal as well.
Also keep in mind that there may be seasons in which squirrel hunting is allowed. These seasons may last a few days or months. There may also be limits on how many squirrels you can hunt over a given period of time.
Additionally, there are places where certain types of squirrels are protected. For example flying squirrels are usually protected from hunting.
So, make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the relevant rules and regulations before you go squirrel hunting.
Squirrel Nutrition And Recipes
Squirrel meat can be delicious. It’s usually very lean and mild. It can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken. What’s really great about squirrel is its nutritional profile.
A 3.2 ounce serving of squirrel has:
30 grams Protein
5 grams of Fat
Various Essential Minerals
So, if you’re on a low carb, high protein diet squirrel is a great addition to your diet.
If you’ve found a nice location that you can legally hunt squirrels from, you may be wondering how to prepare squirrel.
Once you get your squirrel you’ll want to gut it and skin it as quickly as possible. Once that’s done make sure to get in in a cooler with ice or in a refrigerator. Doing this quickly will prevent the gamy taste that some people complain about.
An adult squirrel skinned and gutted will usually yield about three quarters of a pound of meat.
Once you cook it, it will shrink further. So, you may want to have at least half a squirrel per person.
Squirrel stew has been a popular recipe for ages. But there are many other tasty ways to cook up your squirrel.
Pan fried squirrel can be just as tasty. You can season it to your liking. You can add peppers and make it spicy or even buffalo sauce to add some zing.
Pan Fried Squirrel Recipe
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 1 squirrel quartered
- 1/2 Cup of flour.
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper for a kick.
- 3/4 Cup of milk or egg bath.
- Pan for frying with a cover.
- Your favorite oil for cooking.
Place the pieces of squirrel in the milk or egg bath and allow them to sit in the milk for about 5 minutes.
While you wait, place the flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika in a ziplock bag. Shake the ingredients so that they combine.
Also, put about a half inch of oil in the pan and set it on medium heat with the cover on.
Once the squirrel is ready to go, put it in the zip lock bag and make sure it gets nicely coated with the flour and spice mix.
When you’re ready to place the squirrel in the oil make sure to be careful as it may cause some drops of oil to pop.
Once the squirrel is in the oil, cook each side for about 5 minutes.
Keep the pan covered while the squirrel cooks.
To be sure the squirrel is done make sure that it cooks to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the squirrel is done, you can set it on a plate with paper towels to help collect some of the oil residue.
This recipe goes great with wild rice, mashed potatoes, or french fries.
With a little research you can find out what your local laws are on squirrel hunting. Once you find a spot and familiarize yourself with hunting tactics and safety.
Once you’re ready to go, you can harvest some squirrels in no time.
Make sure you follow safe food handling practices.
Squirrel is a dish that has been enjoyed throughout history. It’s time that it made a comeback.