For many, the idea of eating squirrels is appalling. However, squirrels have been hunted and eaten for years, but are squirrels safe to eat?
Squirrel meat is safe to eat, but with caution. Squirrels can carry parasites, toxins, and diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Lyme Disease and need to be prepared and cooked thoroughly before eating. The risk of contracting any diseases from eating squirrel is greater during summer months, so it is safer to eat squirrel meat during the winter.
I put together a guide to better your understanding of what squirrels you can eat, when they can be eaten, and if there are any hazards to your health.
Squirrel meat may not be a popular food choice, but it is food. Once you know the best ways to eat squirrels safely, all you have to do is catch one. Or two or three, because let’s face it, there is not a lot of meat on those bones.
Table of Contents
Which Squirrels Are Safe To Eat
It may not seem like your first choice for a meal, but squirrels have been eaten for hundreds of years and with precautions, it can be safe to eat.
Are Grey Squirrels Safe To Eat
The grey squirrel is found everywhere in the United States which makes it one of the most hunted animals. While squirrels can carry diseases, like other wild animals, when cooked it can be safe to eat grey squirrels.
The meat of a grey squirrel is lean and gamey like that of a rabbit. Because grey squirrels mostly eat acorns, there is also a nutty flavor to the meat too.
Are Wild Squirrels Safe To Eat
Wild squirrels can be eaten and have been eaten for many years. They are not as popular as they once were, but people still hunt squirrels for food often.
With wild squirrels, the important fact is that they can carry diseases. Not only can parasites live in their fur, but they may be carrying ticks or fleas that can pass along diseases to humans.
As a wild animal, you also have to be careful when around a squirrel so you do not get bit or scratched. With regards to the safety of the meat, as long as there are no prions and the meat is properly handled and cooked, it is safe to eat wild squirrels.
Are Urban Squirrels Safe To Eat
If squirrels were a good source of calories, then more of them would be eaten the way we do with rabbits. Wild squirrels are more commonly eaten as a result of people enjoying the hunt.
You can eat urban squirrels and even live on them, but there is not much meat here. If you do decide to catch yourself an urban squirrel, be sure to clean, dress, and cook it right away.
It is possible for urban squirrels to carry toxins that they get from gnawing on fiberglass or roofing tar. The amounts they ingest will not be much, but if you are concerned about toxins, it may be safer to stick with wild squirrels.
Are Suburban Squirrels Safe To Eat
The biggest danger to eating suburban squirrels is that your neighbors may not like these rodents running around. They may have sprayed poisons to kill them, and if ingested, these poisons can pass to you.
The more time a squirrel spends in towns and cities, the more exposure they have to toxins and other pollutants that can damage their meat. This makes them poor candidates for your menu and your health.
Are City Squirrels Safe To Eat
City squirrels will have more exposure to pollutants and chemicals found in roofing materials and trash dumpsters. They will often forage around buildings for food, and this exposes them to more toxins and bacteria that wild squirrels will not encounter. Given that squirrels only provide a little amount of meat, it may not be worth the risk of getting a bacterial infection or illness.
Can You Eat Squirrels From Your Backyard
Depending on where you live, you can get any type of squirrel in your backyard. According to wildlife experts, you should be cautious about eating squirrels from your yard.
If squirrels are common in the area, you may have neighbors that find them to be pests. This means they could have been fed poison and poisoned meat is not something you want to eat.
Are Squirrels Safe To Eat Year Round
The weather will affect the squirrel’s diet as well as which parasites they may be carrying, so there are times of the year when it may not be safe to eat squirrels.
Are Squirrels Safe To Eat In The Summer
The warm summer weather makes squirrels, along with other wild animals, perfect hosts for mites, fleas, ticks, and lice. This means there is a risk of getting meat that is contaminated with parasites.
Squirrels also carry Warble and Botfly larvae in their skin during the warmer months. But these insects do not typically penetrate meat tissue. If any larvae are present in the meat, you will see a boil that can be easily removed.
Cooking squirrel meat thoroughly is the best chance of removing any parasites and contamination.
What Time Of Year Are Squirrels Safe To Eat
It is better to hunt and eat squirrels during the cooler months, when there is less risk of parasite infection. If you are hunting squirrels in the winter, keep a cooler with you, so you can clean them quickly and keep the meat cool, to prevent any bacterial or parasite growth.
The risk of contracting any diseases from eating squirrels is greater during summer months, so it is safer to eat squirrel meat during the winter.
How To Tell If A Squirrel Is Safe To Eat
Squirrels are wild animals and carry parasites, bacteria, and diseases so it is important to know when it is safe to eat squirrel meat.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Squirrels
It is possible to get sick from eating squirrels. Some carry Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is more commonly known as mad-cow disease.
Eating too much squirrel can increase your risk for exposure to this disease which is known to eat holes in the brain and can be fatal.
There have been cases of people also reporting memory loss, muscle problems, and declining cognitive abilities as a result of eating a prion-infected squirrel.
What Type Of Diseases Do Squirrels Carry
Squirrels can carry parasites, toxins, tickborne diseases, fleaborne diseases, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Of these diseases only Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be passed through eating the meat.
The others can be passed by exposure to an infected squirrel. Lyme disease is the most commonly transmitted disease from ticks or fleas.
Squirrels also eat plants and seeds and if these have been treated with any herbicides, these toxins can be passed along to you which may cause illness.
There is also a risk of contracting Salmonella with squirrel meat.
Is Squirrel Good To Eat
Squirrels have been hunted and eaten for years, but does that mean they are good to eat?
Are Squirrels Edible
Yes, squirrels are edible, and they have been eaten for hundreds of years. They are not as popular as they used to be but can be eaten if necessary or if you happen to like the gamey taste.
There is not much meat on a squirrel, so it will not be a big meal. Most people who have hunted squirrels for food put them in stews to add flavor.
As a wild animal, it is important to remember that squirrels can carry diseases and there is a risk of catching disease if the meat is not properly handled and cooked.
You can minimize your risks by wearing gloves when handling the meat, dressing them right away and storing them in a fridge or freezer until you are ready to cook the meat.
What Parts Of A Squirrel Can You Eat
As I said, there is not much meat on a squirrel but the parts with the most meat are the backstraps, hind legs, front legs, and shoulders.
You can use the ribs and rest of the back and belly to make stock and add flavor. Some places like Kentucky serve squirrel brains as a delicacy, but there are dangers to this.
Knowing that some squirrels can carry prions that cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it is best to avoid eating the brains or any of the spinal fluids.
It is also a good idea to remove the glands before cooking, as these can harbor disease causing bacteria.
What Does Squirrel Meat Taste Like
Game meat has always been popular along with the sport of hunting. Squirrel meat is considered game and is widely eaten the same as rabbit.
It has a taste similar to rabbit but is reported to be more delicate and slightly sweeter. This is likely because of squirrels mostly consuming nuts, which adds the sweet, nutty flavor to the meat.
Can You Eat Squirrel Raw
Because squirrels can carry bacteria and parasites as well as disease-causing prions, you should not eat the meat raw. Most of the harmful bacteria can be killed with cooking.
You should also never eat the meat of a squirrel that you come across already dead. Only if you hunt the meat, properly handle and dress it, then cook fully, should you eat squirrel meat.
Helpful Tips To Know Which Squirrels Are Safe To Eat
Whether you are a hunter or just like to eat game, squirrels are a possibility for your menu. But before you run out and catch yourself a squirrel for dinner, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when deciding which squirrels are safe to eat.
- Never eat a squirrel that you find already dead
- Do not eat squirrels in the summer as they are more likely to host parasites, fleas, and ticks in the warmer months.
- Avoid eating squirrels from the backyard, as they may have consumed pesticides and other toxins.
- Keep in mind that squirrels can carry disease-causing prions, so always be cautious when eating this wild animal.
If squirrels are on your menu, it is important to know if squirrels are safe to eat. The short answer is yes. The long answer involves you being careful about the type of squirrel you eat and how you prepare and cook the meat.
With this guide, you can safely identify squirrels to eat and prepare them to better protect your health. It should go without saying however, that squirrels are wild and with that comes risk.
If you must eat squirrels, then be sure you do it safely. And enjoy the nutty sweetness of the meat.