Most of us see squirrels in two ways: they are entertaining and cute creatures to have in your yard or a great source of nutrition and protein. But have you recently decided you want to try eating squirrels? How long is squirrel meat good for, and are squirrels safe to eat?
Squirrel meat will stay good to eat for three to four days in the refrigerator, and their meat can remain frozen in the freezer for several months. Generally, squirrel meat would be safe to eat and stay delicious. However, there are some safety precautions you need to take to eat squirrels safely.
Squirrel meat tastes like rabbit or chicken, with a distinct nutty aftertaste and flavor. Their meat is lean and light in color. Continue reading with us as we discuss how long squirrel meat will stay fresh and whether squirrels are 100% safe to consume!
How To Store Squirrel Safely To Expand Meat Freshness
If you want to store squirrel meat correctly, placing their meat in an airtight container or plastic bag is essential.
A quart-size container would be big enough for any squirrel to fit in once skinned. You can eat a squirrel immediately or place them in your refrigerator if you plan to cook the meat within three or four days.
Freezing Squirrel Meat
You can even put them in the freezer if you plan to eat them within three to five months. Squirrels will freeze well in dry sealed bags or typical freezer bags. However, it’s essential to remember that storing squirrel meat in your freezer in the longer term may cause the meat to become tough.
How Long Can Squirrel Meat Last In The Freezer?
Generally, you can store squirrel meat for up to a month in the freezer before its texture and taste are too compromised to enjoy. After that, however, it will still be safe for consumption.
Temperatures to Store Squirrel Meat
You should handle squirrel meat just like any other meat. It should be stored and cooked carefully, following the correct cooking guidelines. The danger zone for squirrel meat is between 40 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If squirrel meat has been in these temperatures for more than two hours, avoid eating it.
Always store squirrel meat below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in an airtight zip lock bag or container, but because the squirrel is wild game, their meat will toughen up the longer it has been refrigerated.
As with any other meat product, you should never consume it if it is over three days old.
Always cook the meat to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Store the Squirrel Organs?
Suppose you plan on eating squirrel organs, such as the heart, testicles, or liver. In that case, you should consume them immediately after field dressing.
Due to their high water content, organs can not be stored for more than a few hours without their structure becoming compromised. This includes both freezing and refrigeration.
Is Squirrel Safe To Eat?
Eating their meat could have health risks because of a squirrel’s status as a rodent and wild game.
Any wind animal has the potential to carry toxins and parasites if they are undercooked, so you need to make sure you cook any squirrel meat thoroughly to eliminate any adverse health effects or risks.
In general, squirrel meat is safe and delicious to eat.
What Does Squirrel Meat Taste Like?
It is said that their meat tastes very similar to a rabbit or a chicken but with more flavor. Their meat is also finely textured and high in protein. A squirrel’s meat is higher in protein than chicken and beef and contains crucial vitamins for a human’s body, such as vitamin B6 and B12.
When a squirrel is consumed, you’ll also get a significant dose of niacin with every bite, which will ultimately help to keep your digestive system working as it should.
However, it would be best to remember that some precautions need to be taken to eat a squirrel safely. It is advised never to eat squirrels during the hot summer months.
During hotter months, squirrels have to fight fleas, mites, ticks, and parasites like every other warm-blooded animal. Although you luckily can not get tick-borne diseases from eating or handling a squirrel, it could bring you into too close proximity with these little rodents.
Fortunately, parasites are much less common and can be easily destroyed if you cook squirrel meat. However, most people should be concerned about the possibility of a squirrel being contaminated with environmental toxins, such as herbicides and pesticides.
That said, this becomes apparent with any meat. For example, a squirrel will rarely have loads more residual pesticide levels than the meat you already buy and consume from your local butcher.
However, it could become especially dangerous when eating squirrel brains. For example, suppose you consume squirrel brain or squirrel meat that is potentially contaminated with parts of the brain. In that case, you could contract Creuzfeld-Jacob disease, which is more commonly known as “mad cow disease.”
For this reason, it would be in your best interest to avoid eating a squirrel that has been in contact with a lead shot altogether.
Safest Squirrel Meat to Eat?
The safest squirrel meat you could eat is the one shot in the head, which is not where you will be getting your meat.
You can also easily avoid this factor by removing the squirrel’s brain before cooking them. At the same time, it will be best to remove the glands, as the glands could cause the meat to have a musky flavor and may contain diseases.
If a squirrel is on the menu, it’s a great time to try it yourself. However, if you’re a hunter and have caught yourself a squirrel, you must follow the correct precautions for your safety.
Remember, if you store squirrels in the freezer or refrigerator, it would still be best to consume their meat as soon as possible to avoid any health risks.