Can You Eat Squirrel? Is It Nutritious? [ANSWERED]

Squirrel meat is not only edible but considered on par with rabbit meat. It has a lean and gamey taste, but there are some dangers and considerations to take into account before you start catching and eating wild squirrels.

In many places around the world, different animals are hunted for meat – deer, pheasants, and even rabbits. But what about squirrels? They’re wild, plentiful, and everywhere, so if you were in a bind, could you possibly eat a squirrel?

Before you run off to try and start catching squirrels for dinner, we should discuss the pros and cons of eating the little critters, and we’ll start with why you might need to be careful.

squirrel trapped in backyard cage

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What Are The Potential Dangers Of Eating Squirrel?

Ticks And Fleas On Them Carry Diseases.

Like many small, hairy critters, squirrels are susceptible to ticks and fleas in the height of summer, which means that trying to catch and kill them puts you right in the danger zone of a few real diseases, such as:

  • Tularemia
  • Lyme Disease
  • Tularensis

Parts Of Their Meat Can Cause Diseases If You’re Not Careful

Tularemia is associated with infected animal blood and so is mostly tick-related, but tularemia can also be caught from infected animal’s blood, dust or raw animal products like skin, meat and eggs, which means that you need to be incredibly careful with their meat.

Another disease that can be caught with the squirrels is Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease – better known as Mad Cow’s Disease. It is rare but can happen if the meat is infected. It is mostly associated with squirrel brains, and the recommendation is that you should never eat squirrel brains.

They Might Have Environmental Toxins In Their Bodies

Living in the wilderness means that squirrels might be eating who knows what, which means that they might be eating things that we don’t allow our usual life stock to eat for our own safety.

In other words, they might have some environmental toxins in their bodies that could make you sick such as:

  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides

This is a danger with any wild animal you plan to eat, including squirrels. If you know you are in an area where herbicides and pesticides are readily used, you might want to be especially careful before eating any kind of wild animals.

It Might Be Illegal Depending On Where You Live

In most states, hunting grey squirrels is perfectly legal – and in the UK, it’s even encouraged due to the grey squirrel’s invasive nature and tendency to run out the native red squirrels.

Generally, you are allowed to hunt grey squirrels in wintertime, as the number of parasites they tend to carry is lower at that time, and if you are in a location where you are allowed to hunt ‘nuisance animals, which are generally rural areas.

However, you will need to check in with your local Department Of Natural Resources (sometimes known as the Game and Fish Commission) to check if any of the following things are illegal in your area:

  • Trapping squirrels
  • Baiting squirrels
  • Using an airsoft gun
  • Using other firearms
  • Using a slingshot
  • Using archery equipment

For some states, you might need to check the laws, register, and get a permit or license to hunt them. In other states, they may be illegal altogether.

It May Be A Protected Species Of Squirrel

Another thing you might need to check is if the squirrel is a protected species – for example, flying squirrels are typically protected from hunters and therefore are illegal to hunt as game.

In short, you’d need to do your homework on what laws apply to squirrels and weaponry before you think about going hunting.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Squirrel?
They Are Tasty

This is the most obvious benefit to eating squirrels – they taste pretty good. It’s said that they taste like a combination between rabbit and chicken with a heavy hint of nuts in there. The meat is lean, light, and finely textured.

They do well cooked in many different ways including:

  • Roasted
  • Fried
  • Baked
  • Sauteed
  • Slow-cooked in a stew

They Are Plentiful

Squirrels are one of the most common animals around, everywhere from cities to deserts to forests, and have been known as the mainstay game in the US. They have been a staple in the US for ages and scarcity has never been a problem.

They have even been improving in popularity overseas from the USA as well – including being served in restaurants such as the London Cinnamon Club.

They Can Be Pests

As mentioned before, squirrels can be an aggressively invasive species, running other animals and even other types of squirrels out of environments. They also breed very quickly.

On top of that, they can cause many problems for people as well such as:

  • Going through trash
  • Stealing food
  • Ruining gardens
  • Disturbing ecosystems

With all that considered, it may be one of the most useful animals you can eat.

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How To Best Catch/ Hunt Them

There are a few little tips that you can use to more easily catch a squirrel if you plan on hunting them:

  • Pace yourself – squirrels are skittish and easily scared, so you’re in for a long wait
  • Make yourself comfortable in ways that don’t involve moving – again, squirrels are easily frightened, so keep yourself warm and fed without having to make noise
  • In order to keep as much meat as possible after shooting them, you will need to precisely shoot them in the head (you don’t want to eat the brains anyway due to Mad Cow’s Disease)
  • Look for rustling leaves or for them trying to camouflage themselves against the bark.
  • Squirrels are pretty clever – they like to circle around tree trunks to avoid predators, so be aware of that.
  • Try baiting them with nuts, fruits, and seeds.
  • Don’t try to shoot them in the trees – you could hit something else and if you do hit them, then them falling from the trees could destroy their carcass.
  • Try to shoot them when they are sideways facing you – if you shoot them when they face you fully, then you might risk destroying more meat and pelt than you intended.
  • If you want to bring a friend, you might have an easier time hunting them since you’d be able to flank the animal and get around their little tree trunk trick. However, double the people means double the noise, so be careful to not startle them.

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Overall, squirrel meat is tasty, plentiful, and even encouraged due to them being an invasive and nuisance species in many places. You need to be careful when preparing or eating them, as the number of ticks and fleas on them can carry diseases such as Lymes Disease and Tularemia, not to mention the fact that they may have consumed foods that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

Parts of their bodies may also be dangerous, like the brain, or their meat when raw. If you are still willing to eat them after that, then you can easily spit roast, slow cook them into a stew, or bake them to make a delicious meal. They can be used as a replacement for rabbits in recipes and be absolutely delicious.