If you have squirrels on the menu, it is crucial to know whether they are safe to eat or not. It’s all about being careful about the type of squirrel and how the meat is prepared and cooked. You’ve probably wondered, can squirrel meat make you sick, and how can you tell if it’s safe?
Most squirrels are safe to eat and have been consumed for several years. While squirrels could carry diseases, chemicals, parasites, and toxins, they could be safe to eat when you identify them and prepare them properly and safely. However, like any wild animal, there are risks when eating squirrels.
With this article, we will guide and help you to identify what squirrels are safe to eat and how you can minimalize the risk of consuming these wild animals. So read on to find out!
Can You Get Sick If You Eat Squirrels?
You can get sick from eating squirrels. Some carry bacteria and diseases; a common disease squirrels carry is the mad-cow disease. Consuming too much squirrel could increase your risk of this disease, which is known to eat holes in your brain and is fatal.
There have been cases of people reporting muscle problems, declining cognitive abilities, and memory loss after eating a prion-infected squirrel.
Squirrels may also feed on seeds and plants that have been treated with herbicides, and these toxins can be passed on to you and cause you to become ill.
There is also an increased risk of contracting Salmonella when eating squirrel meat.
Which Squirrels Can You Eat?
A squirrel may not seem like your first choice for a meal, but they can be safe to eat with the proper precautions.
Take a look at the different squirrels you could possibly find in your area, what to keep in mind, and how you can know if they are safe to consume:
Grey squirrels live throughout the United States, making them one of the most hunted animals. While grey squirrels can carry diseases, such as any other wild animals, they are safe to consume when cooked.
A Grey squirrel’s meat is gamey, lean, and very similar to the meat of a rabbit. Since Grey squirrels’ diets primarily include acorns, their meat also has a delicious nutty flavor.
People have hunted and eaten wild squirrels for many years. Although they are not as popular as they used to be, people still often hunt squirrels as a source of food.
The most important thing you need to remember when it comes to wild squirrels is that they can carry diseases.
Parasites could be living in their fur, but they may also be carrying fleas or ticks that can pass diseases to humans. As a squirrel remains a wild animal, you must be careful when hunting them so you won’t get scratched or bit.
When it comes to the safety of their meat, it is safe to eat them as long as there are no prions and their meat is properly handled and cooked.
More squirrels would have been eaten if they were a good source of calories, but people enjoy the hunt of squirrels more than their actual meat.
You can definitely eat urban squirrels and live on them, but they do not have much meat on their bones. So if you catch an urban squirrel, you need to clean, dress, and cook it as soon as possible.
Urban squirrels can carry toxins that they get from biting on roofing tar or fiberglass.
The amounts they ingest will not be a lot, but if you are worried about toxins, it will be safer to stick with wild squirrel meat.
The most significant danger you may encounter when eating a suburban squirrel is that your neighbors might not be fans of having these rodents running around.
Your neighbors may even spray poisons to kill them, and if the squirrels consume these poisons, they can be passed on to you.
The more time squirrels spend in cities and towns, the more they get exposed to pollutants and toxins that could cause damage to their meat.
This turns suburban squirrels into poor candidates for your health, as well as meal choices.
City squirrels get more exposure to chemicals and pollutants found in trach dumpsters and roofing materials.
These squirrels will forage around buildings for food, which exposes them to more bacteria and toxins that wild squirrels will never encounter.
Since squirrels provide only small amounts of meat, it will not be worth the risk of getting ill or bacterial infections by consuming their meat.
Depending on the area, there could be any type of squirrel in your backyard. However, you must be very cautious about eating squirrels from your yard, as you won’t know whether they are city squirrels that have been exposed to toxins and chemicals.
If squirrels are ubiquitous in your area, your neighbors may see them as pests. In addition, some squirrels may have ingested poison, and you would not want to consume them.
Tips For Knowing Whether A Squirrel Is Safe To Eat
It doesn’t matter if you’re a hunter who likes to hunt and eat squirrels. But, before you run out and catch yourself some dinner, there are a few tips you should keep in mind when you want to determine whether or not a squirrel is safe to eat:
- Do not eat a squirrel that you find already dead.
- Never eat squirrels during the summer, as they will be more likely to host ticks, fleas, and parasites during the warmer months.
- Avoid eating squirrels from your backyard, as they may have consumed toxins and pesticides.
- Keep in mind that there is always a possibility that a squirrel can carry disease-causing prions, so be cautious.
Squirrel meat is safe to eat when the consumer is cautious about the environment the squirrel may come from cooked correctly.
Always follow these helpful tips and tricks to know if a squirrel is safe to eat, and when you’re in doubt, rather throw that squirrel out!
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