When you are really in a survival situation, a truly desperate survival situation, wants, likes and preferences all go out the window in service of just staying alive.
You going to have to do a lot of things that you don’t want to, or even think you can, do.
This will certainly mean eating wild things that you don’t want to eat, and if you run out of ready-to-eat food or other ingredients for cooking you’re going to have to resort to getting your food the old-fashioned way, from nature.
There are all sorts of animals out there that are good for eating, but we typically only eat a tiny fraction of them day in and day out.
One of the most commonly encountered mammals across the North American continent is the humble squirrel.
So how about it? Can you eat squirrels in a survival situation if you had to?
Yes, you can eat squirrels in a survival situation. Although tough to catch, squirrels are plentiful, pretty tasty, and reasonably nutritious making them a good option for survival food.
Chances are you have never thought about eating a squirrel before, especially if you just like to sit and watch them scamper around your backyard raiding your bird feeders.
But unfortunately, it is time to get serious, and you don’t want your first consideration of the topic to be when you are starving half to death.
In the rest of this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about incorporating squirrels into your survival meal plan.
Where Can You Find Squirrels?
You can find squirrels all across North America and elsewhere in the world, in pretty much all places except the highest mountains and the deepest deserts. Anywhere you have forests, woodlands, or swamps you will find squirrels.
These arboreal rats are highly adaptable, though, and are routinely encountered in both urban and suburban areas living alongside humans.
They are extremely plentiful but very cautious and highly evasive, and that can make them difficult to trap or catch.
Assuming you have a weapon that can reliably bring them down, however, you’ll have a large supply to draw from in any given area.
Squirrel Meat Nutritional Info
If you compare the nutritional value of a squirrel meat with usual mealtime staples like chicken or beef, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Rodent meat, which includes squirrel meat, has nearly as much protein as chicken and even less fat in the same size serving.
It is low in carbohydrates but has a reasonable profile of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
Even when they are fattening up for winter a wild squirrel is pretty lean unless it has been hitting the bird seed really hard or is getting tons of handouts from people.
The total yield of meat from a single squirrel is meaningful, though it will take several to make a big meal or to feed multiple people.
What Does Squirrel Taste Like, Anyway?
The thought of eating a squirrel might be repulsive or unthinkable to some, but let’s get down to business: what do they really taste like?
Squirrels, like many small rodents, have a distinctive taste usually described as gamey, and perhaps a little bit greasy. You might call it rich tasting if you’re being charitable.
However, it is not necessarily unpleasant, and prepared properly from healthy stock squirrel meat can be quite delicious, particularly when fried or grilled and seasoned.
To this very day, squirrel is occasionally sold in some places throughout the American South, and elsewhere in the world. With just a little bit of effort squirrel can make a fine meal however you are preparing it.
It might require a little bit of adaptation, but most people quickly come around on the taste and texture of rodent meat, squirrels included.
Is it Okay to Eat Raw Squirrel Meat?
No. Eating raw squirrel meat is a great way to get a variety of foodborne diseases.
All raw meat is hazardous for consumption to one degree or another, but wild squirrels in particular can play host to a menagerie of viruses and bacteria, and several types of parasites that can infest humans.
Some of these diseases are seriously bad news, and wild squirrels are known to carry hantavirus and even plague!
You don’t need me to tell you that you really prefer to avoid catching either of those bugs if you value your life.
Should You Cook Squirrel Meat before Eating?
Yes, absolutely. Thoroughly cooking squirrel meat is going to greatly improve the taste and texture, and far more importantly it will eliminate any dangerous pathogens lurking within, including all of the ones mentioned just above.
How Should You Prepare Squirrel for Cooking?
It is possible to cook squirrel whole, but you really don’t want to do that. Taking the time to clean and butcher it like you would any other animal is going to greatly improve the experience after it is cooked, and make it easier to prepare to boot.
You should start by skinning the squirrel before opening it up to remove the innards. Take great care not to rupture the stomach, intestines, or bladder.
Remove the head and the feet, and you are ready to rotisserie, roast, or fry.
Is it Okay to Eat Squirrel Skin?
You can eat squirrel skin, but their fur is going to make this distinctly unpleasant. Removing the fur while leaving the skin intact on the carcass is intricate, aggravating, and time-consuming work, effort better spent on something else.
Your best bet is to skin the squirrel and get on with it.
Is it Okay to Eat Squirrel Bones?
You really shouldn’t eat squirrel bones. Yes, the bones of squirrels are full of nutritious marrow, even if it is only a little bit, but if you aren’t going to try to suck the marrow out of broken bones you should probably leave them be.
Bones have a nasty tendency of cracking, splintering, and getting caught in the throats of humans or lodged in our intestines. Either instance might have fatal consequences.
Now, if you should miss a tiny bone somewhere in the meat of the squirrel and eat it by accident, you probably don’t have too much to worry about but you definitely don’t want to be gnawing on and eating the larger bones of the limbs or torso, either.
Is it Safe to Eat Squirrel Organs?
The subject of organs gets touchy for some people, well beyond the consumption of novel species of animal meat.
Many organs are highly nutritious, but there are times when the organs of certain animals or even certain individuals could be dangerous to eat. Many are just downright disgusting.
When it comes to squirrel organs, the heart is generally considered pretty good to eat and deliver, if you have time to soak it, can be a tasty morsel also.
The intestines, stomach, and kidneys should all be avoided. If you have any doubts, don’t feel bad about avoiding squirrel organs.
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.