Disclaimer: Always check your local laws before gathering wildlife for consumption. Trapping, hunting, and/or killing of certain animals may not be permitted in all jurisdictions. EatASquirrel.com is not responsible for any legal repercussions resulting from your use of this website.
Like any animal, squirrels must be killed before being eaten. EatASquirrel.com uses the word dispatch when referring to killing a squirrel for human consumption.
- Rapid loss of consciousness
- Minimize pain and suffering for the animal
Removing the squirrel from the trap
Always wear long-sleeved animal handling gloves! Do not attempt to handle squirrels with leather work gloves, snow gloves, or any other gloves not specifically designed for handling small animals!
Seal all exit points where the squirrel may try to escape. For the Squirrelinator, it helps to put one arm over the top door while using the other hand to grab the squirrel.
If there are multiple squirrels then you should isolate one squirrel at a time to remove from the trap.
Use a heavy object such as a brick to hold down the top door of the trap to prevent the other squirrels from escaping!
When grabbing the squirrel it is best to grab it by the torso or firmly by one of the hind legs. Never grab a squirrel by the tail as their tailskin can come off leaving you with lots of fur and no animal.
Methods of dispatching
This is the most humane way of killing a squirrel, Shoot the squirrel in the head right above the brain. It will lose consciousness immediately followed by a quick death. There will be minimal bleeding if done correctly.
To kill a squirrel with a gunshot, use trap combs to prevent the squirrel from moving about. Place the shot between the eyes and through the brain. The animal may twitch after being shot; this is normal, and completely involuntary.
The downside to this approach is that many cities have strict gun laws, some which would make a kill by gunshot straight up illegal. Read on for more methods.
Often considered the most humane way of killing. The squirrels believe they are simply going to sleep but the CO gas deprives them of oxygen and they soon asphyxiate. This is not easy to set up though, you need a steady supply of CO and an airtight bag to contain the squirrels. Depending on the concentration of CO, it can take well over an hour to kill the squirrels. Check for lack of pulse to confirm that the squirrels are dead.
Blunt trauma to the head
When done correctly, this method results in the squirrel instantly losing consciousness followed by death. It can be achieved either by:
- Slamming the head on a sturdy object e.g. a metal pole.
- Dropping a heavy object on the head, e.g. a brick or boot.
Sometimes the squirrel will twitch after impact to the head. This is normal, and is the result of excess energy leaving its nervous system.
I don’t recommend this method if you want to keep the skull intact for an arts and crafts project. For that, see my preferred method below.
Breaking the neck
This is my preferred method of killing squirrels. Always put on your animal control gloves before handling a live squirrel. In one hand, grab the squirrel’s head. In the other hand, grab around the squirrel’s torso wrapping both its arms in your grip. Quickly twist moving both hands until you hear a soft snap, or feel the neck vertebrae break. You will have to twist quite a bit as squirrels have naturally flexible bodies.
The squirrel is dead if its head hangs limp. It may twitch after death – that is normal as these twitches are involuntary movements caused by energy leaving the nervous system.
I don’t recommend this method unless there is no other choice. Lock all the doors on the cage. Submerge the cage with squirrel inside, underwater for about 1-2 minutes. The squirrel is dead once it stops struggling. If you are doing this in a large body of water, I recommend tying a long rope to the cage so you don’t lose your meal.
Immediately after dispatch
I recommend dunking the squirrel corpse in water or alcohol for a few minutes. This will kill any fleas that may be crawling in the squirrel’s fur. Additionally, a soak in alcohol will kill any bacteria the squirrel’s skin (but not in the meat).