You’re here because it’s your first time eating squirrel. You’re here because you’re curious how to get that backyard protein. Or, you’re here merely because you’re curious.
Well you’ve come to the right website. Your life is about to change.
Here’s the low-down on what you need, and what to do to put squirrel on your dinner plate tonight. It comes down to six steps:
GEAR — TRAP — DISPATCH — SKIN — CLEAN — STORE
Step 1: Get the gear
Please note: actual prices can change without notice.
Most cities frown upon firing guns in the backyard, even for hunting. That means for us city slickers, trapping is the way to go. For under $100, you can get a complete setup for catching squirrels:
- The trap – I recommend the Squirrelinator ($62, Amazon). It is the best squirrel trap period.
- The gloves – You’ll need long sleeved animal control gloves ($20, Amazon). DO NOT attempt to handle squirrels with any other types of gloves, let alone your bare hands!
- The bait – Unshelled, unsalted peanuts + peanut butter. Available at your local grocery (~$8; price may vary)
- (Optional) Latex gloves – Helpful for masking your scent when setting the trap. (~$10; price may vary)
- Game shears (optional, can use knife or kitchen shears) ($18 – Amazon)
- Hunting knife (optional, can use kitchen knife) (Price varies)
For more gear recommendations, visit EatASquirrel.com’s equipment page.
Step 2: Set the trap
The Squirrelinator trap comes with some instructions to set the trap. Throw those out and follow our instructions instead.
- Put your latex gloves on (optional).
- Place the trap where you see squirrels during the daytime.
- Open the two side gates and latch them in the open position.
- Open the top door all the way.
- Drop some peanuts on the left or right side of the trap.
- Drop a few peanuts in the center.
- Drop some more peanuts right in front of each trap door.
- Dip 3-4 peanuts in the peanut butter and drop them in the center of the trap.
- Secure the top door of the trap with the two spring hooks. Make sure to hook the top door TO the main trap frame otherwise squirrels may be able to squeeze out the top!
- Place a heavy object on top of the top door. This will prevent the trap from wiggling about once it’s caught a squirrel.
Step 3: Dispatch the squirrel
Once you have caught a squirrel it is time to dispatch it for the dinner table.
Put on your animal control gloves. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER TYPE OF GLOVES OR YOUR BARE HANDS!
Open the top door of the trap slowly. Cover the opening with both hands at first to prevent the squirrel from escaping through the top.
Using one hand, reach in and firmly grab the squirrel by the body or the head. Do NOT grab by the tail. Pull the squirrel out of the trap.
Once the squirrel is out of the trap, grab the head with one hand and grab its upper torso with the other. Twist the hands in opposite directions to sever its neck and spinal cord.
(If you are not comfortable with this method of dispatch, please see our Dispatching guide for more ways to humanely kill a squirrel.)
The squirrel is dead if its head goes limp. Confirm by tapping its eye. If there is no stimulus response, the squirrel is dead.
(Optional) Submerge the dead squirrel in some water to drown any fleas that may be crawling on it.
Step 4: Skin the squirrel
Unlike other animals, we cannot eat squirrels whole, so we have to remove the skin, head, and tail for the meat inside.
Remove the tails, paws, and head. These can be discarded or saved for arts and crafts.
Hold the squirrel by a flap of skin along its mid back. Make a finger-sized incision along this skin. Begin pulling apart the squirrel’s skin using your hands until the skin separates. Remove and discard each skin half.
Rinse under water to remove any fur that may have accumulated on the meat.
Step 5: Clean the squirrel
It is important to remove the squirrel’s internal organs before consumption or storage. This is a process known as field dressing.
Lay the squirrel belly-up.
Using your knife, make a cut all the way down the body from the neck to the pelvis. Slice gently until the abdomen begins to separate.
Cut the squirrel’s pelvis and cut open the ribcage with a pair of kitchen shears. Peel open the squirrel and lay it as flat as possible against your cutting board.
Using your index and third finger, grasp behind its heart and lungs, and pull down and away from the squirrel’s body. This will separate all of the organs from the carcass in one motion. If its your first time, just repeat until all the organs have been removed.
Rinse the squirrel, removing as much blood as possible. Pat dry with towel.
Pro tip: Save the liver for a delicious appetizer!
Step 6: Refrigerate/freeze/cook
Squirrel can be enjoyed immediately while it is still fresh. Check out our recipes!
If you’re not quite ready for a squirrel snack, seal in an airtight bag for storage. Squirrel will keep about 4-5 days in the fridge and a few months in the freezer.
You can also set it in a container of salt water to brine it.