View Full Version : Eating squirrel?

Dave R
January 25, 2002, 10:00 PM
This may be a "range rumor"--can anyone verify?

I was talking about taking my younger son hunting for squirrel. Adn my rule is "if you shoot it, you eat it". One of the guys said it was not safe to eat squirrel west of the Rockies (or was it west of the Mississippi?) because they sometimes carry a disease.


First time I ever heard squirrel was not safe to eat.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

Good Guy
January 25, 2002, 10:28 PM
I suspect when they refer to unsafe squirrels that they're referring to ground squirrels. West coast tree squirrels fry up and eat just dandy. Couldn't pay me enough to try eating one of those nasty diggers (ground squirrels).

January 26, 2002, 12:21 AM
You're not going to believe this. There is a disease called Mad Squirrel Disease (http://www.weeklywire.com/ww/09-22-97/nash_ol-helter_shelter.html) in Kentucky.

Justin Wilson used to cook squirrels on his TV show but I think the best use for them is to feed them to the cat.

January 26, 2002, 12:28 AM
Yum , Yum = whats for supper maw??

Squirrel brains what else??

Well just mix in the pickled crows feet & gopher guts and you will have a meal thats fit for kings!!


Good Guy
January 26, 2002, 11:46 AM
Mad squirrel disease is an ugly thing: Victims come down with a serious case of the staggers, then they go witless and inevitably end up dead.

Sounds an awful lot like the results of heavy alcohol consumption, don't it. Wonder what "proof" those squirrel brains are?

January 26, 2002, 01:04 PM
Some say it is so that if you bless your food before eating, you dont have to worry about 'Mad Squirrel Disease'....

Praise the Lord and pass the BBQ sauce.:p

Jorah Lavin
January 26, 2002, 01:23 PM


"The same process in bleeding and dressing as is used for other small game should be followed for squirrel. Gray squirrel is considered better than red squirrel in flavor. The carcass should be cut up, washed out, and soaked for several hours in salt water below 40 degrees F. Like rabbit, squirrel doesn't have much fat, so it should be cooked slowly and with moisture. Sour cream compliments the flavor of squirrel meat." (The Wildlife Chef)

Squirrel In Sour Cream

Serves 6-8.

4-6 squirrels, in serving pieces
salt, pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
small can mushrooms
1 tsp. paprika
Dredge squirrel in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown them in hot fat in the skillet. Put meat in a caserole dish or roaster. Cover with sour cream mixed with mushrooms. Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees F. until done, about 1 hour.

Comment: Directions failed to mention when to add onions. Perhaps add with the mushrooms, or saute in fat before browning the squirrel.

Source: The Wildlife Chef

January 27, 2002, 12:17 PM
Well I eat ground squirrels, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! The little sinewy bastards we get up here in AK are tough to chew, I'll admit. I draw the line at eating their brains, though I've heard they are quite good mixed with eggs.

They can be difficult to hunt, especially now that word has gotten round that I'm out for blood. As far as I know, the only other creatures that hunt the little fellows are bear. Apparently the bear think they're worth some effort. From time to time I see massive amounts of earth thrown up at the base of trees with squirrel holes around them, with huge claw marks everywhere. It's just like the holes my little rat terrier used to dig, only on a gigantic scale.

January 27, 2002, 01:28 PM
I tried sqirrel for the first time a few weeks ago- delicious! It tasted like a meater type of chicken. Since then I've been squirrel hunting twice- what a blast! Those suckers really can move.

I did a search on the CDC site on squirrel and could not find any references to disease patterns (unlike rabbit and Tularemia), although I don't think I'll be eating their brains any time soon. Just make sure they are cooked well and it will kill most bad bugs. The problem with "mad squirrel disease" is the bugs are prions and indestructable to heat- just don't eat the brains and you should be fine.

Thanks to prior discussions we brought corn meal on the second trip and it really cut down on the hair that gets stuck to the meat(no water to dunk the criters in to get the fur wet before skinning).



January 27, 2002, 02:19 PM
The problem with "mad squirrel disease" is the bugs are prions and indestructable to heat- just don't eat the brains and you should be fine.

Phew! (http://www2.kenyon.edu/depts/biology/slonc/bio38/ehlert/prion.htm)

Not just squirrels elk too. (http://www.healthresearchbooks.com/articles/mad_elk2.htm)

When I was a kid we never hunted squirrels before the first frost. That was because squirrels carry bot fly infestations (http://botfly.ifas.ufl.edu/) These also infest rabbits (http://entomology.unl.edu/lgh/ent108/BOTW/BOTW3_rabbit_botfly.html). I don't know why but when I was a kid we called these sores 'wolfs'.

January 27, 2002, 02:56 PM

I am not sure of your intention by quoting me and then refering to the paper mentioned- sorta obtuse.

Very informative paper, thanks for the link. However I feel I need to point out that this paper does substantiate my comment.

If you notice the thread was directed towards the risk of getting CJD aka "mad squirrel disease" from eating squirrel, not the primary cause of the disease in the animal. While there is little known (and alot of conjecture) about the etiology of this disease, a major risk factor from eating animals is due to eating their brains- cooked or uncooked.

With that said, anytime you harvest wild game you should inspect the meat for parasites or other disease manifestations and if it looks "off"- leave it be, whether it has bot fly bumps or what have you.

Can't wait to try out that sour cream recipe :)



slick slidestop
January 27, 2002, 07:07 PM
Disease???? Germs???Worms???

The skillet will killit.:D

January 27, 2002, 07:49 PM

Actually that was a tangent rather than being obtuse. I did a search about the terms you used 'prion', 'heat' and 'brain' and this article popped out. The article it casts more light on your statment that prions are indestructable to heat, if you can get past all its techno jargon. I think otherwise we are all prone to believe, as slick does that cooking kills all the germs. Apparantly a prion isn't a germ as we commonly think of one-adding to the confusion. :confused:

This is too broad a tangent to pursue here however. I got over 62,000 Google hits on the term Creutzfeldt-Jakob which is the human form of the disease.

That sour cream recipe looks a lot like a Stroganov recipe for deer my wife tried last week. Very good. :p

January 28, 2002, 01:03 AM
Creutzfeldt-Jakob.... ain't that the human form of Mad Cow disease? Unfortunately, the skillet won't kill it. Nasty stuff. -- Kernel

January 28, 2002, 05:59 AM
I take the little tree rats and put them on a rack in a slow cooker whole (minus the head, skin and innerds mind you). :rolleyes:

Put a little salt, black pepper, red pepper, 1 bay leaf, and onion powder on the rodent.

Cook till it falls off the bone.

Tastes like chicken, only different.

January 28, 2002, 01:22 PM
Thanks for the clarification M&M, I was confused- what's new :)