People have some unusual culinary habits, and one of these is considering eating raw meats. For example, if you are an avid hunter, you may feel that you would like to try eating a raw squirrel you just bagged. If you pause for long enough to consider the issue, it may occur to you to wonder if you can eat raw squirrel. Is it a good idea, and what is the best way to prepare it?
You can eat anything you want, including raw squirrel. Is it advisable? The answer would be no. Raw meats are hosts to many pathogens and diseases which can be transmitted to people. Parasites found in the blood and tissue of squirrels can be deadly. Eating raw squirrels is not worth the risk.
Some people are fascinated with survival stories. They would like to try and emulate these by living off the land. Their plans may include eating raw squirrels.
Is It Safe To Eat Raw Squirrel?
Meat is a beneficial part of our diet, and many people use squirrels can be used as a meat source. There are, however, some safeguards that must be exercised when eating meat. One of these is that meat can be a host to numerous bacteria and viruses that can make us extremely ill and even kill us.
Cooking meat destroys the pathogens as they cannot survive the heat. This makes meat a safe way for us to obtain essential nutrients. Cooked squirrel meat is generally safe and does not cause disease.
Some may argue that the Eskimos have been eating raw fish for years without problems. However, keep in mind that saltwater fish often have fewer pathogens because of the presence of salt.
Freshwater fish that are eaten raw are often frozen first to destroy harmful bacteria and parasites.
Fish that is eaten raw is very skilfully prepared to prevent meat contamination by exposing it to the pathogen-laden gastrointestinal tract and other organs. Unfortunately, few squirrel hunters are skilled in these techniques.
Beef may be eaten raw in certain dishes, but this is usually from well-controlled farms where the animals are treated for parasites and diseases. During butchering, stringent measures and inspections ensure that the meat is not diseased. Any meat found to be infected is condemned and destroyed.
Wild game is not subjected to any health controls. As a result, most hunters are not skilled at identifying diseases in squirrel meat. The result is that the squirrel meat may be a host to numerous diseases and parasites.
Eating this meat raw would create a substantial risk of contracting diseases or being infected by parasites.
Do Squirrels Carry Zoonotic Diseases?
Zoonotic diseases are diseases carried by animals that are transferrable to humans. Squirrels carry numerous zoonotic diseases that have the potential to be fatal if not treated quickly. In some cases of zoonotic disease, there may be no cure.
Zoonotic diseases are often rare, and doctors take some time to diagnose them, resulting in delays in the correct treatment.
Squirrels carry the following zoonotic diseases:
- Bubonic plague
Eating raw squirrels would make you at risk of contracting these diseases if the squirrel is carrying them.
Can I Get Parasites From Eating Raw Squirrel?
Along with almost all living animals, squirrels are prone to parasite infestation. These can be both internal and external. External parasites such as ticks may be easy to pick off and eliminate when you skin the animal. Internal parasites are substantially harder to identify and remove.
Squirrels are vulnerable to the following parasites:
- Ticks can infect squirrels with Lyme Disease, which you could contract by eating the raw meat.
- Squirrels can be infested by fleas and very often are. Fleas are an intermediate host for tapeworm. Squirrels, therefore, can be infected by tapeworm.
A tapeworm is a parasite that does not confine itself to the gut. Instead, cysts form throughout the muscle and tissue of the squirrel. Eating raw squirrel meat would make you vulnerable to contracting tapeworm.
Tapeworms can be deadly parasites. There are several documented Medical cases where people died because of tapeworm cysts in vital organs, including the brain.
- Squirrels scratch around in the feces of other animals, looking for seeds. One animal that often has seeds in its scat is the raccoon. This makes the squirrels vulnerable to infestation by raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis.
Raccoon roundworms can also infect humans with sometimes fatal results. For example, eating raw squirrels would infect the person with this nasty parasite which causes neurological symptoms.
- Squirrels can also have other roundworms and hookworms, which may be passed on to people if squirrel meat is eaten raw. These worms cause anemia, weight loss with bloating of the stomach, stomach pain, and diarrhea. They can compromise the immune system in people, and in severe cases, they can cause death.
Squirrel Brains And Mad Cow Disease
In `Kentucky, squirrel brains are considered a delicacy. However, doctors have warned against this practice as squirrels are vulnerable to prions that are misfolding brain proteins. In addition, prions are transferrable onto humans eating cooked or uncooked squirrel brains.
The misfolded proteins influence function in the brain resulting in memory loss, dementia, incoordination, psychosis, and death. This condition is more commonly known as mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Treatment is limited, challenging, and seldom successful.
Is Squirrel Good To Eat?
Squirrels are small, and there is very little meat on one squirrel. Their high levels of activity mean they have good muscle development, but this results in tough and difficult to chew meat.
Most squirrels are lean with few fat deposits, making the meat dry. As a result, squirrels are not popular meat animals. The meat is usually only eaten by hunters that have shot a squirrel and want to eat their kill.
Can You Prepare Raw Squirrel To Make It Safe?
There is no guaranteed way to prepare squirrel meat to make it safe to eat raw. However, some people believe that freezing the meat first will make the raw meat safe once it thaws.
The truth is that although freezing may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate toxins, and certain parasites can survive freezing.
Eating raw squirrel meat should be avoided. The risks of eating raw squirrels are too significant and the benefits too minimal. If you should ever be stranded somewhere without food and you happen to catch a squirrel, make a solid attempt to cook it before eating it raw.