Survival is an ugly business, and sometimes being in a legitimate fight to survive means you’re going to have to do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and that means eating things that you wouldn’t ordinarily eat.
Sometimes you might have to eat animals that are otherwise considered unpalatable, or even cute. How about chipmunks? Can you eat chipmunks in a survival situation?
Yes, you can eat chipmunks so long as the meat is prepared and cooked properly. Chipmunk meat is lean, high in protein, and contains a good complement of minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Understandably, many people balk at the idea of eating cute or charismatic wildlife, it doesn’t get much cuter than the common chipmunk.
But, just like their squirrel cousins, these small rodents have found themselves on the menu for a very long time, and if you are ever in a situation where you need to put food in the stew pot or on the dinner table you can do a lot worse than a chipmunk.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about eating chipmunks in a survival situation.
Where Can You Find Chipmunks?
Chipmunks are not dangerous and are found all over North America, predominately, with only one other species of chipmunk being extant in Asia.
Chipmunks typically inhabit wooded areas near streams or other sources of water and are rarely found in wide-open areas with little cover.
Chipmunks have an extensive diet and are wide-ranging, opportunistic feeders, a factor that influences their usual choice of habitat.
They will eat just about anything they can get their hands on, including insects, earthworms, snails, frogs, lizards, tiny snakes, bird eggs, bird hatchlings, and other small rodents.
Fruits, nuts, fungi, and seeds also make up a large portion of the chipmunk diet and they are common raiders of human trash.
Due to this latter choice of food, you are as likely to see a chipmunk in your backyard as you are a common squirrel.
These “suburban” chipmunks quickly become used to human presence and will associate human activity and human dwellings with food.
Know that where you see one chipmunk, you can be sure of finding others so keep your eyes peeled!
Nutritional Facts about Chipmunk Meat
Chipmunks are rodents, and like most rodents, their meat is surprisingly nutritious and tasty if you can get past the mental and emotional hang-ups associated with eating it.
Chipmunk meat is typically quite lean (except during the bulking time prior to winter hibernation) and is a good source of protein and essential minerals.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked chipmunk meat contains around 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat.
This serving also provides a good amount of several essential minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Mineral content aside, chipmunks are also a good source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6.
Note that the nutritional content of chipmunk meat will vary depending on the animal’s diet and age.
In general, however, you can expect chipmunk meat to be a lean and reliably nutritious protein source.
What Does Chipmunk Meat Taste Like?
Aside from their cuteness factor, one of the biggest concerns people have over eating chipmunks is the fact that they are rodents.
Rodent meat is popularly conceived by people who have not tried it to taste greasy, foul, and generally unpleasant.
Happily, none of this is true in the case of chipmunks and, frankly, most other rodents prepared properly.
Chipmunk meat is often described by those who have had it to taste very much like a cross between pork and beef, with a decided richness to it.
Chipmunks that eat a steady diet of seeds and fruit will compare favorably with corn-fed pork or beef.
The taste of the meat will also be affected by the preparation method used and it is here that chipmunks can really shine.
Like their squirrel cousins, the chipmunk is suitable for a huge variety of preparations and recipes.
Stewed, BBQ’d, baked, fried, or even made into jerky, there is a chipmunk recipe out there to suit any taste.
The easiest way to prepare it in a survival situation is probably just to roast it or pan-fry it, but you can easily add the meat to a soup or stew if you please.
Can You Eat Chipmunk When Raw?
No, you cannot! Just like any other wild game or any meat for that matter, chipmunks must be cooked before consumption to ensure that any bacteria or parasites present in the meat are destroyed.
These potential contaminants are especially common in wild game and foraged foods due to their increased risk of exposure to them.
Chipmunks are known to play host to such diverse germs and parasites as toxoplasma gondii (a protozoan that can cause toxoplasmosis in humans), trichinella spiralis (a parasitic worm that causes trichinosis), salmonella (a bacterium that causes food poisoning) and yersinia pestis (the bacterium responsible for the bubonic plague).
While the risk of contracting any of these diseases from chipmunk meat is relatively low, it is still present and it is not worth taking the chance! Always cook your chipmunk meat thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.
Is it Safe to Eat the Skin of a Chipmunk?
You can, but it is neither good tasting nor particularly nutritious. The added difficulty of dealing with the fur means that it is probably not worth the effort, unless you are truly desperate for food.
If you do decide to eat the skin, be sure to remove all the fur first. This can be done by singeing it off over a fire or by carefully shaving it away with a sharp knife. Once the fur is gone, the skin can be cooked and eaten like meat.
Is it Safe to Eat the Bones of a Chipmunk?
Not really. Humans are not designed to eat bones as they are; the likelihood of broken teeth, choking and perforated intestines is just too great, even with tiny bones like chipmunks.
However, if you are in a survival situation and have no other choice, tiny bones can be crushed and used to fortify a broth or soup. The marrow inside the chipmunk’s bones, though meager, is extremely nutritious and worth using.
Alternately, the largest bones in the chipmunk can be snapped and the marrow sucked out after roasting them.
Now, if for whatever reason you should accidentally swallow a tiny bone from one of the paws or some such you need not panic as they will probably pass through your system without issue.
Is it Safe to Eat the Organs of a Chipmunk?
Organ meat is a touchy subject for most Americans even beyond the consumption of novel or charismatic animal meat.
In the case of chipmunks, you can eat the organs as you would the meat itself, provided they are properly cleaned and cooked.
The heart is always a prime bit of protein as is the liver, though caution is advised with the latter since it is known to store toxins.
The kidney and pancreas are also edible, but the kidneys may have a disagreeable urine taste unless soaked in water or milk prior to preparation.
The stomach and intestines are likewise edible, but the necessity of careful expelling, cleaning, and preparation of such tiny organs makes them more trouble than they are worth.
Caution: Do Not Eat Any Sickly Looking or Dead Chipmunk
Keep in mind that chipmunks are considered pests in many areas, and since they are rodents they are highly likely to come into contact with poisons and traps that are set out for the purpose of rodent control, especially around human settlements.
Should you catch a chipmunk that isn’t acting right, seems obviously ill, or is otherwise “off,” don’t eat it! It could be poisoned.
Likewise coming across a dead but fresh and seemingly uninjured chipmunk might mean a death by poisoning that took some time to take effect. Don’t risk it!
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.