Whether you are trapped in deep wilderness or just facing a very long-term survival scenario after a society toppling event, learning how to acquire food from the wild is imperative.
When it comes to foods, hardly anything is more nutritious or a better source of energy than animal protein.
Sadly, under the circumstances you’ll probably be forced to resort to eating animals that you would never consider consuming otherwise.
But the good news is that most animals are in fact safe to eat so long as you prepare them properly. How about beavers? Can you eat beavers in a survival situation?
Yes, beaver meat can be eaten safely when cooked. Beaver meat is highly nutritious and calorie-dense, and beavers were a regular staple in the diets of trappers and frontiersmen.
Beavers certainly don’t look that appetizing truth be told, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to eat them because they are certainly cute and so industrious!
That being said, no beaver’s life is worth more than the life of a human being, and it’s in your best interest to know what to do if you are able to bag one of these giant rodents in the wild.
Keep reading to learn more about eating beaver in a survival situation.
Where Do Beavers Live?
Beavers can be found all across the United States and most parts of Canada, along with some areas of northern Europe and a few places in Asia.
They tend to live in or near freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds where there are plenty of trees nearby for them to use as food and as building materials for their dams.
Beavers are mostly herbivores, and their diet consists primarily of aquatic plants, tree bark, and twigs.
In the wild, beavers will eat just about any type of plant they can find including water lilies, cattails, and pondweed.
Notably, beavers are responsible for legitimately changing the very ecosystems they reside in, turning woods into wetlands, and altering or stopping the flow of rivers and streams entirely. No other living thing has such an impact on the area around it, save human beings.
Beaver activity and habitation can be easily spotted by looking for their dams or lodges made of sticks, logs, and mud that they use to create pools of water to live in or near.
These ponds serve as a place for beavers to mate and rear their young as well as a safe place to store food for the winter months when conditions outside are too harsh to venture out into.
Also, keep an eye out for felled trees and the conspicuous signs of their chewing. You’ll know a beaver is responsible if the felled tree has been cut near the ground and there are long, gouged tooth marks present.
Nutritional Info about Beaver Meat
Beaver meat is among the most calorie dense and nutritious of all “red” meats, especially when compared to other wild game.
Packed with protein and rich with fat at all times of year, it also has a surprisingly good complement of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
How Does Beaver Meat Taste, Anyway?
Beaver meat is, even more surprisingly, pretty tasty! It is not nearly as gamey as many detractors claim, and is similar to other rodents in flavor, while also having a “beefier” element than most.
Properly cleaned and cooked, beaver meat has a clear, pleasant flavor that is suitable for a variety of dishes and preparations.
Also contrary to many wild animals beaver is not tough nor is it stringy or gritty in texture; the meat is invariably supple and tender.
This is another nice surprise since beavers are especially industrious and hard-working critters.
You’d half expect them to be as tough as leather considering how much work they do on a daily basis!
Can You Eat Beaver Tail?
One of the most commonly asked questions regarding the eating of beaver (no jokes, you!) is whether or not that iconic, flat tail is also edible.
Bottom line, it is, and was greatly prized by our ancestors who had to make a living way out in the wilderness.
A beaver’s tail is pretty much all fat, not muscle- despite how useful it is to them in the water and on land. In fact, the tail is where the beaver stores most of its fat in preparation for long, harsh winters.
This fat store is a ready-made survival supplement if you are able to bag a beaver, and it can be eaten after roasting over an open fire or coals.
Most folks recommend removing the skin before eating, while others find it perfectly palatable after it softens and starts to flake.
So, while it does not look appetizing the beaver’s tail is a great resource that should not be discarded.
Can You Eat Raw Beaver Meat?
No! Beaver meat, like all meat and wild game meat in particular, is host to all kinds of dangerous germs and parasites. Both can make you devastatingly ill if you eat their meat raw.
Beavers are known to host at least three kinds of tapeworms, as well as trichinella, the worm that causes trichinosis. You definitely want to avoid contracting that!
Consider too that simple food poisoning, often caused by salmonella, is enough to seriously hamper your efforts to survive, or even kill you outright if you are already in trouble.
To avoid foodborne illness, cook beaver meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, sustained, until well done. This will ensure that all of the aforementioned nasties are dead and gone prior to eating.
Is Beaver Skin Safe to Eat?
Yes, but it is rarely worth the trouble. Beavers have thick, tough skin that is covered with dense fur that protects them from cold.
Removing the fur from the skin for its meager nutrition is not usually worth the effort when you need to tend to the precious meat and tail for consumption.
Even so, if you are in dire straits and desperate for sustenance then the skin can be eaten. Do this by scraping away the fur with a knife until you have a clean surface to work with. The skin can then be roasted over an open fire until it is soft enough to eat.
Can You Eat Beaver Bones?
No. A beaver’s bones are way too dense to eat, and humans shouldn’t eat bones as-is anyway. That’s a great way to crack all your teeth, choke to death, or get splinters lodged in your guts.
But, bones can still offer you some excellent nutrition if you can get the marrow out. Bone marrow is a powerhouse of survival nutrition, and is pretty easy to get to.
This can be done in several ways, even in the field. You can boil the bones, placing them in a pot of water and boiling them until the marrow starts to seep out. You can then drink the marrow-rich broth or make it into a stew.
Another way is to smash or snap them open, scooping out the marrow before cooking and eating as is, or adding to a dish. You can do the same thing by splitting the bone with a saw and then extracting the marrow.
You might be tempted to skip the bones entirely, but if you really need the nutrition the marrow is worth it!
Are Beaver Organs Safe to Eat?
Yes, a beaver’s organs are safe to eat with some qualifiers. The heart, as always, is mostly muscle, good and clean to eat.
The liver is highly nutritious, but there is a risk of contamination by whatever the liver has filtered out and beaver livers in particular have elevated levels of cadmium, which means you should not eat it all the time or even every month.
Cadmium is a heavy metal that can cause all kinds of health problems in large enough doses, and is also found in truly dangerous amounts in moose livers.
The kidneys are a bit of a wildcard as they are typically safe to eat but often taste foul unless carefully prepped and cooked. As expected, they have a urine-like flavor some of the time which is awful.
The stomach and the intestines can be safely eaten, too, but must be diligently expelled, cleaned, and cooked lest they taste terrible and infect you with truly hideous bacteria.
Overall, eating organ meat, except the heart, should be reserved for seasoned butchers of wild game.
Can You Eat Beaver Poop?!
There is a persistent rumor floating around out there that claims beaver poop is, somehow, safe to eat and even considered a delicacy. Is this true?! Could it possibly be true?
Bottom Line: No, you cannot eat beaver poop.
However, this legend has a grain of truth to it. Beavers produce a yellowish excretion called castoreum to mark their territory which is then expelled through their anus. It isn’t poop: if you can believe it…
Castoreum has, in fact, been used for a long time in perfumery and also, unbelievably, as a food flavoring where it lends a vanilla-like flavor. It is still used today in some perfumes, cigarettes, and even holistic medicines.
So, while you can’t (and shouldn’t) eat beaver poop, the substance that comes out of their rear end can technically be edible after processing. That being said, it is never a good idea to eat the stuff when you find it in the wild!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.