Can You Eat Squirrel From Your Backyard? Complete Guide

eat squirrel from your backyard

When you see a bunch of animals moving around your yard, it’s tempting to grab for your shotgun if you’re a hunter. You could even ask if you can eat squirrel from your backyard.

The following are some topics to think about:

  • Is it legal to kill squirrels?
  • How to hunt or trap a squirrel
  • How is it safe to eat squirrels
  • Cooking ideas

The short answer is yes, in most cases you may legally kill and eat squirrels from your backyard, but you’ll need permission. You can obtain authorization from the State Department of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and then go out and kill squirrels. Squirrels are nutrient-dense, including proteins and vitamins, and can aid in treating various ailments, including cancer prevention, diabetes therapy, and mental disease.

There are a few drawbacks to consider, and you should wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself. People eat squirrels, and there haven’t been any documented problems, so it’s safe and delightful to eat.

We’ll go through how to capture and kill squirrels in your backyard legally, what you’ll need, if squirrels are safe to eat, cooking ideas for a tasty dish, and whether or not people eat squirrels in this post.

Can you legally hunt in your backyard?

If you hunt other games, you’re familiar with the legalities of obtaining a license or permission, and the same rules may apply when deciding whether or not you may eat squirrels from your backyard. Some jurisdictions enable landowners to opt-out of these obligations. However, we recommend confirming your rights with your state’s DNR or department of conservation.

If squirrels are a nuisance animal, you may be entitled to hunt them even if there is a hunting season. Many regions enable landowners to deal with these concerns for free or a small cost to get a permit.

While you’re determining whether you can hunt, see if you can also bait them. If you can get them closer to you with appealing delicacies like peanut butter, you’ll have a better chance of a successful bag.

Can You Shoot or Trap Squirrels?

When you’re wondering if you can eat squirrels from your backyard, you’ll probably discover distinct criteria for shooting vs. trapping, as well as some additional regulations for seasons, limitations, and procedures. Because squirrels are plentiful, the rules are frequently relaxed.

Eastern gray squirrels can be black or white in some locations. Because of their rarity, only a few municipalities safeguard these variants. You won’t be able to hunt them in such areas.

Is it safe to eat squirrel from your backyard?

When it comes to safety, squirrels are well-known for transporting illness. They do, but a significant number of them are hazardous to us. Tularemia, plague, insecticides, tularemia, germs, and worms are just a few. According to the CDC, they can be transmitted or infected to humans and pets by touching them or biting into them. In reality, squirrels carry disease quickly among themselves, and if we encounter them, the sickness may pass to us as well.

However, we will not provide them a get-out-of-jail-free card due to the risk of catching salmonella from squirrels. There’s also the issue of tick-borne infections like Lyme disease, which you should be aware of before deciding whether or not you may eat squirrels from your backyard.

Pesticides must also be included. Because of the risk to non-targeted animals and pets, most authorities do not suggest using them to manage squirrels. Even if you know better, it doesn’t mean your neighbor with a rat problem isn’t utilizing these things.

There are two fundamental reasons why these illnesses arise in squirrels. They don’t reject anything and, like raccoons, eat practically anything, including insects, corpses, bones, and trash. It can also infect other squirrels, either via another animal or if one has an illness or simply by biting insects.

Risks and how to avoid them

From the outside, determining whether it is safe or not is not difficult. You may watch the squirrel’s movements to see whether it’s acting normally and isn’t scratching, chasing water, or doing anything else unusual.

Wearing rubber gloves and a mask when touching, cleaning, chopping, or even cooking is another way to ensure your safety. However, if you’ve followed those instructions, it won’t have those hazards after it’s cooked.

As a consequence, if you meet a squirrel that appears to be in good health, you may kill and eat it, making us relatively safe to eat. Otherwise, it would help if you stayed away from them.

In general, cook squirrel thoroughly until it softens and feels nice, whether fried or cooked in a dish. The flesh of squirrels is a little tougher than chicken or beef. It will keep illnesses at bay and may even be able to destroy them.

You can reduce the danger of illness transmission by taking these procedures and thoroughly cooking squirrels.

How to dress a squirrel and clean the meat

We’ll go through how to field dress squirrels and clean their flesh in this part. This step-by-step instruction to squirrel skinning is an excellent place to start.

  1. Get a good skinning knife. Before you start dressing your squirrel, make sure you have a tiny, sharpened skinning knife on hand that can easily slide through the hide and removes any undesired pieces.
  2. Begin cutting below the base of the tail. Place the squirrel belly-down on a solid and level surface and begin cutting beneath the base of the tail, down the back towards the head. After that, you’ll break the squirrel’s tail bone and pull on its tail to take the hide from its back.
  3. Remove the front legs and tuck them away. Remove the hide with your knife and gloved hands, rather than breaking off and removing the front and rear leg bones.
  4. Remove the guts, head, and feet. Remove the squirrel’s paws and head with game shears, open the chest and hollow out the flesh.
  5. Remove blood, fur, and residue from the meat using a water hose. Before you start preparing the meat to consume, make sure to rewash it.

What you can make with squirrel meat

Squirrels are often eaten in the southern United States, owing to their deliciousness. And they go with practically any recipe that includes rabbits or meat. The taste and appearance of the squirrel vary depending on the squirrel species and how it is cooked, but it typically appears grey before it is cooked. However, it is undeniably delicious when fried, particularly when deep-fried. It tastes better than rabbit, meat, and chicken. Because it climbs, digs, and moves swiftly like rabbits, it is a little rough and tight.

A 3.5-ounce serving of roasted squirrel meat contains 172 calories and 4.7 grams of total fat. Chicken thigh meat has 184 calories and 9.16 grams of total fat in a similar amount. You may prepare the game like you would chicken if you keep these nutrient profiles in mind.

The majority of hunters target Eastern gray or fox squirrels. They are more significant than lesser species such as red squirrels, weighing 1.5 and 3 pounds, respectively. This places it in the same category as a cornish game hen, with around the same size and weight.

As a general rule, the slower you cook the squirrel, the bigger and older it is. Braising is a great technique to tenderize the meat while also adding flavor.

In the kitchen, always use safe cooking techniques. Before you begin your preparation, wash your hands. Rather than utilizing one all-purpose cutting board, we recommend employing a meat-specific one.

Slow-cooking techniques

Before eating your backyard squirrels, cut the meat into 1-inch chunks. Alternatively, you may cover them with seasoned flour and brown them in neutral oil on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside on a dish.

To add those lovely caramelized tastes, we prefer to cut up veggies like celery, carrots, and onion till brown. Return the meat to the saucepan and add enough vegetable or chicken broth to cover the ingredients thoroughly—Cook for four to six hours on high, or until the meat is soft.

You can also braise the squirrel in milk and use the liquid to make a lovely sauce. The acids will tenderize the meat to the point that it will almost melt in your lips.


This way, instead of plain old chicken wings, is an old standby that makes a beautiful tailgate feast. Buttermilk can be used to produce a batter, which will also make it delicate. Season with salt and pepper and add flour and your choice of spaces.

A teaspoon of baking soda can also be added to the mix. The pieces will crisp up faster and absorb less fat as a consequence. Then place for about 20 minutes the coated pieces in the refrigerator to help the batter attach to the meat.

Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with neutral oil or shortening. To prevent overflowing the pan and reducing the temperature of the fat too much, fry a few pieces at a time. It should just take a few minutes on each side for them to turn a beautiful golden brown color.

You can drain the pieces on paper towels and serve them with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Another variation on this idea is beer-battered squirrel tenders. Allow the cut-up meat to marinate overnight in beer and a splash of orange juice. Drain the pieces and coat them in a mixture of panko bread crumbs, flour, and spices before deep-frying in oil.

Alternative recipes with squirrel meat

Squirrels may also be cooked in a simple recipe by combining onions, tomatoes, oil, and sausage in a pressure cooker, which softens it fast and simple.

Buttermilk fried squirrel with southern gray is another classic and excellent meal made using squirrel meat. This recipe is created using buttermilk, milk, flour, and other delectable ingredients. It’s the mixing and dipping of the many tastes that make it so appealing.

Squirrel Alfredo is another dish you can create using squirrel meat if you want to expand your culinary horizons. Not only that, but you can make squirrel Casserole, which looks like pizza and tastes just as good.

Better still, try oven-fried squirrel, which is a popular choice among most people. Aside from that, there’s Bebrica squirrel (which is a dish name), which is a wonderful and exciting way to try new meat with a new dish. You gain a sense of what’s conceivable and what can be accomplished.

There are a variety of other dishes available in restaurants. There’s almost no limit to what you can do, so try it and enjoy.

What to eat with prepared squirrel

Squirrels don’t have much meat because of their size. We don’t advocate making the squirrel the main course of your supper until you’ve shot and skinned a lot of squirrels. We will share with you some of our preferred dishes to serve with your cooked squirrel meat in this portion of the post!

  1. Biscuits and gravy. This is undoubtedly the best way to consume fried squirrel. The biscuits and gravy provide a satisfying accompaniment to your fried squirrel supper because the squirrel is so tiny. This is a fantastic woodsy morning dish, but it works well as supper, especially when served with fried eggs and orange juice!
  1. Mashed potatoes and green beans. Treat your cooked squirrel like chicken and serve it with a some mashed potatoes and green beans for a southern classic.
  1. Add squirrel meat to the stew. So, while squirrel meat in stew isn’t strictly a side dish, it’s a satisfying, healthy, and delicious choice to explore. For example, you may use squirrel instead of chicken in your family’s chicken and dumplings dish, add squirrel to a vegetable soup, put squirrel in gumbo, make a stew with corn, potatoes, and squirrel, or prepare a comforting squirrel chili for chilly winter nights.
  1. Carrots and garlic oven-baked potatoes. Nothing goes wrong with oven-baked potatoes and carrots, incredibly garlicky oven-baked potatoes and carrots. You may bake the squirrel and veggies together on a sheet pan supper, or prepare the squirrel and veggies separately and serve the potatoes and carrots as a hearty side dish.

Advice to improve your chances of putting meat on the table

Ask any hunter for advice on how to catch squirrels, and you’ll hear hundreds of suggestions. The most important things to remember are selecting the appropriate environment and identifying them swiftly using your senses.

Squirrel footprints in the mud or snow are unique and simple to spot. Four toes are found on the front feet, whereas five are located on the back feet. The rear feet land in front of the front feet jointly as they run across the earth. A rabbit’s track has one rear foot trailing the other in a broader stride compared to squirrels.

When you see one, always shoot it on the ground once you’ve confirmed your target. Squirrels are naturally apprehensive of strangers. If you miss it, you’ll have alerted them, as well as any other creatures or birds in the vicinity, to your presence.

We recommend shooting for the head for a quick death shot with a slight flesh injury.

Follow appropriate hunting procedures and wear blazing orange to draw the attention of other hunters and non-hunters. Stick to areas with plenty of food supplies, such as near streams or woodlands with black walnut, hickory, or oak trees.

It may be beneficial to check your hunting area before loading up to locate the producing trees. Every alternate year, certain species will produce nuts or fruit.

Final thoughts

Squirrels are more healthy and delectable than rabbits or steak. However, the portion about receiving permission and shooting is the most significant element of this job. Check with the DNR and the wildlife department to see if it’s permissible to shoot squirrels and how to go about it. Doing so in a crowded place is more challenging.

It’s also important to consider how you shoot. In truth, in some regions, bows and arrows are permitted but require permission, while in others, they are prohibited and may result in criminal charges. The department can provide you with the most accurate information.

More significantly, you may shoot with whatever weapon you choose, whether it’s a rifle or a bow, as long as they’re on your land. You might not be able to do it if you’re on a lease. Shooting squirrels with a rifle to the head from the closest position possible is the best technique to increase your chances. The closer you get, the more likely you are to shoot on the spot.

Squirrel meat is more nutritious and protein-rich than that of other rodents and rabbits in terms of flavor. People do, however, consume squirrels all around the world, particularly in the Philippines. Even in the southern areas of the nation, people use it frequently and prepare it with ease, mixing it with various cuisines.

However, there are certain infections involved, but they are unlikely to spread to you if you pick a healthy squirrel (at least one that appears healthy from the exterior), wear and use gloves and masks, clean it thoroughly, and then cook it thoroughly, maybe in a softening cooker.

If you already have a problem, you should avoid using it because it isn’t known if it will help or hurt your present health issue.

Squirrels may be used in a wide variety of cuisines. Buttermilk, oven-fried, squirrel Alfredo, squirrel casserole, and other deep-fried types are the most popular. Squirrels are eaten, and the fried kind is the most popular.

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Emma Olsen
I’m a gardener and blogger with over 20 years of expertise writing about and cultivating fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I have extensive experience in organic and sustainable gardening, perennials, annuals, and sustainable and urban farming. I’m a nature freak and I enjoy bird watching and swimming with sea creatures.