Can you eat ground squirrels? 

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat ground squirrels?” with an in-depth analysis of ground squirrels, the taste of ground squirrels, some recipes of ground squirrels, the nutritional composition of ground squirrels and the risks associated with eating ground squirrels.

Can you eat ground squirrels? 

Yes, you can eat ground squirrels. Ground squirrels are edible. They have long been used by many cultures as a supplement to the diet. But, be aware of the potentially harmful diseases they may transfer. 

Ground squirrels 

Ground squirrels usually have a light grey or yellowish-grey fur colour, they have a slightly pear-shaped body and little pointy ears. They usually have shorter tails as compared to tree squirrels. 

Ground squirrels are 14 to 20 inches in length including their tail and weigh between 21 and 30 ounces. The males are slightly bigger than the females.

Ground squirrels destroy many food-bearing and ornamental plants. The most susceptible are grains, as well as nut and fruit trees including prune, pistachio, almond, avocado, apple, apricot, peach, orange, and walnut.

In fields, ground squirrels will destroy herbs in the seedling stage. They can eat young shrubs, vines, and trees by chewing bark, girdling trunks (completely separating a strip of bark from a tree’s outer edge), eating branches and leaves, and burrowing around roots. Ground squirrels will bite on plastic sprinkler heads and irrigation materials and lines.

Ground squirrels are non-game animals. They live around three to four years on average. They are considered to be cannibalistic. This indicates that they feed upon their own varieties, in fact, many have been witnessed eating their dead remains.  

Often, they will begin eating with the brains, eyes, or intestines and move towards the stomach and other organs. 

The nutritional composition of ground squirrels 

A 100 gram serving of ground squirrel meat provides: 

  • Calories 111
  • Total fat 3.8 g
  • Total carbs: 0 g
  • Vitamin A: 220 IU
  • Protein: 19.3 g
  • Water: 75.4 g
  • Iron 4.7 mg
  • Phosphorus 175 mg

In addition, the meat of ground squirrels also consists of fatty acids, amino acids and sodium. 

The risks associated with eating ground squirrels 

Ground squirrels are known to transmit harmful diseases to humans. One of the major concerns is a bubonic plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and transmitted to humans, pets, and other animals by insects incorporated with the ground squirrels and probably die within a short time after exposure to the disease agent.

Be conscious that both the CDC and the CDPH indicate the greatest risk of acquiring plague is being around infected ground squirrels due to their fleas. Humans usually acquire the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with the plague. 

Additionally, anyone even considering consuming ground squirrels should first make sure there is no chemical ground squirrel control going on in the area because ground squirrels are usually restrained by anticoagulant rodenticides. 

If the ground squirrel eats a non-fatal dose, the rodenticide would remain in their tissues for a few weeks or months.

These are just some of the risks associated with eating ground squirrels. If you want to eat ground squirrels, make sure they are cooked well. Proper preparation and cooking is the key solution to avoid and reduce vulnerability to disease. 

Some recipes of ground squirrel meat

Bbq squirrel meat

Ingredients

  • Four whole, small squirrels, cut up
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp of the rub of choice
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • One and a half tsp toasted sesame oil

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Coat squirrel meat with olive oil, sprinkle with your favourite rub and lay the meat in a single layer in a baking pan. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Combine barbecue sauce, garlic and sesame oil and apply this to meat to taste. 
  • Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes or until meat is tender and can be drawn from the bone. 
  • Finish and serve with sauce.

Squirrel casserole

Ingredients:

  • Two squirrels
  • Two 10 ounce packages of frozen broccoli with cheese
  • One stick of butter
  • One cup chopped onion
  • One cup chopped celery
  • One 10 and a half ounce package of cream of mushroom soup
  • One cup cooked rice
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Place the meat in a saucepan and submerge it with water. 
  • Boil the tails until the meat is tender and easily pulled off the bones. 
  • Cook the frozen broccoli with cheese as designated on the package. 
  • Over medium flame, melt butter in a pan. 
  • Sauté onion and celery until tender. 
  • Add in the mushroom soup and mix. 
  • Merge remaining ingredients in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour and serve. 

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Can you eat ground squirrels?” with an in-depth analysis of ground squirrels, the taste of ground squirrels, some recipes of ground squirrels, the nutritional composition of ground squirrels and the risks associated with eating ground squirrels.

References 

http://www.varminter.com/ground-squirrel/ 

http://traditionalanimalfoods.org/mammals/rodents/page.aspx?id=6382 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.