Camping & Survival

Animals You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

Canned Horse Meat

If you find yourself in a survival situation and food is running low, you may surprise yourself by the things your brain tells you what animals it wants you to eat. Most of us who live in major metropolitan areas get the vast majority of our meats from mega marts and grocery stores in our area. For such large stores, the choices in meats are comparably few. Your choices are pretty much between poultry, pork, beef, and seafood. However, if Western civilization collapsed and we ran out of mega mart meat, what kinds of animals are good to consume in a pinch? The answers might surprise you!

Fried Squirrel is Commonly Served in the U.S.


They are plentiful, not terribly bright, easy to hunt, and most of all they taste good. If you can hit a soda can at 50 feet with a .22 LR, you can hunt squirrel. I’ve eaten this particular animal on many occasions, usually pan-fried. If you are from a rural area, eating squirrel may not seem odd to you at all. Trust me—your city folk friends probably think it is strange. My East Texas family regularly hunts squirrels, processes them, and tosses them in the freezer for a squirrel fry. They may be sort of cute, but trust me, even the most sensitive city dweller would eat one after missing a few meals.


A major blog out of Kansas City recently posted about Raccoon and touted it as the other dark meat. A local trapper in their area sells out of his entire stock in minutes as hungry customers meet him at his roadside market. A full-sized raccoon sells for $3 to $7 each—not per pound, and one of these furry creatures can feed five adults. Eating varmints is even in vogue these days, at least in Britain. The New York Times reported that Brits are eating a variety of varmints with enthusiasm. For the average person who probably doesn’t spend much time thinking how a steer, pig, or chicken might meet their maker, raccoons may seem too cute to eat—that is until you try one. Apparently they are excellent eating and the lack of hormones and additives make it a more natural meat selection. I’m not saying I’m going to stop buying my Walmart brand frozen bag of chicken breasts, but it’s nice to know there are other options.

Grilled Rats
Rats are Commonly Eaten in Asia


For me, this one is both literally and figuratively hard to swallow. However, a fully cooked rat, as long as it isn’t carrying any diseases transferable to humans, is perfectly edible. In some parts of Asia, rat is a staple of the human diet. When you think about it, a rat is similar to a squirrel, but less cute, so eating them should be easier, right? For most Westerners, the thought of throwing a few rats on the grill for dinner doesn’t sound too appealing, but humans have been doing it for centuries. The French and Romans regularly ate rats in their diet. They have a bad wrap for spreading plague, but in reality, the fleas on rats spread the disease that wiped out a large chunk of Europe, not the rat itself. However, I’m thinking I would need an extra helping of gravy since the chances of it tasting like chicken are slim at best.


I would have to be one hungry dude. I love my pet dog, and the thought of turning Fido into dinner makes me more than a little queasy. However, in Asia and the South Pacific, dogs are a source of protein that would otherwise be lacking. A dog is far larger than a rat, so it can feed more people. According to some who have tried it, it tastes very similar to beef. If you find yourself in a Korean restaurant and don’t feel brave enough to try canine, make sure you don’t order the Gaegogi. Otherwise, you may not be able to look at Fido with a straight face when you get home. Interestingly, a man named Xavier Mertz of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition forced himself to eat his sled dog’s liver when supplies ran short. The liver was so rich in vitamin A, that it produced a dangerous condition call Hypervitaminosis A. Mertz died shortly after consuming the organ.

Canned Horse Meat
Canned Horse Meat


A good horse would no doubt come in handy in a post apocalyptic situation. However, they may be worth more than four-legged transportation. Horse meat is more popular than you might think, and it is not just for dogs. Moreover, you may be surprised to know that it is very popular in many Western countries. France, for example, has special butchers who sell nothing but horse meat. The French word for a horse meat butcher is boucherie chevaline. In the top eight horse-eating nations in the world, humans consume over four million horses each year. I guess horses should take care not to break a leg when SHTF.


If you are traveling through Asia, you might find street vendors selling cricket skewers or roasted giant water bugs. In the United States, most would consider eating bugs as an absolute last resort. The trick to eating any insect is to cook it. Even if a bug has harmful toxins or venom, a good boiling will usually negate the effect. Insects with hard shells like beetles can contain parasites, but if cooked are safe to eat. Even if you’re in a survival situation, you should be able to get a fire going. This means you can boil, roast or smoke the insects you eat. Aside from making them safe to ingest, cooking them also improves the taste. Ants, for example, have a distinct vinegar taste until they’re boiled. Another way to improve your dining experience is by removing the wings and legs from your meal. They don’t contain much nutritional value anyway. You can also remove the head—provided you don’t throw up in the process.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. @MeVe, horse in the US that is sold for meat have to meet USDA standards, if being sold for human consumption.
    In the past, horse was a lot cheaper than beef, but was heavily regulated at the behest of cattle interests.
    Indeed, for a decade, horses were shipped out of the country, as it was illegal to sell horse meat.
    Today, it’s legal again (as of 2011, courtesy of Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012), if difficult to find due to the closure of the last slaughterhouse in the nation to slaughter horses for meat in 2007 (by court order (Can’t leave ANY American with a job, these days)).

  2. another thing, beaver tail can be roasted to get the skin to slip and then the rest of it can be cooked any way you want to. nutria, I don’t know what all they eat but I would stay away from most carrion eaters. mountain men would eat nearly anything but favored sheep and goat but the cats were their favorites even over buffalo from my reading. some think dog but people are the only ones that will eat dog since have seen them laying in the road with no carrion birds around

  3. you can have the possum since I won’t touch them after seeing them in some very putrid places. crow and chicken hawk–you might as well take your boot off and chew on it, that is how tough they are. have heard of armadillo being good but I might try that. old man told me as kids he went out with 5 other boys and all they had was some grease and corn meal. it was raining and no game was moving but they had a seign to catch bait for throw lines. they dragged up a bunch of them and at first they tried to scale and gut them but gave up and just popped the heads off and had popcorn shiners. an old man told me one day that if I was out in the woods hungry–it was my own fault. go to your library for a book on edible plants and then go to the farm extension for the local stuff. might be at the courthouse. as a kid three of us went black bird hunting and wound up bringing just as many cardinals and robins as we did black birds. caught hell over the robins but they were tasty. and you can have my and my mothers share of snake since I have never touched one with bare hands. have killed a many of them!!! pretty sure owl would be in the same boat as crow etc. since are pretty stringy and the more you chew the bigger it gets!!!

  4. Possum wasn’t mentioned. Easy to catch, clean, and cooking over any open flame is best. I’ve had my fair share of coons and squirrels and plan on a few more this season. My wife is practically begging me for more gator jerky. I just ran out of venispn so I’m excited about the approaching hunting season. Bobcat wasn’t mentioned eitger, which, like the armadillo, holds high pork charactwristics. Bobcat is fine grained and awesome. Excuse the typos. I’m taking a dump and I’m on my tablet.

  5. Nutria is pretty good when stuffed with garlic and roasted. The meat is somewhat stringy. It does not taste like chicken. It is actually on some restaurant menus here in Louisiana. I have eaten it cooked with a gravy and found it to be OK.

  6. many things are good to eat if you know how to cook the stuff. whistle pig (marmot), armadillo, beaver/tail, birds of any sort–some you don’t want to fool with ie a spoonbill or wading birds will taste fishy. turtle or alligator is about the best eating depending on how you clane them. however pine bark is widely used in many countries, so it isn’t just animals that are tasty!!

  7. On the back burner, we have our snake fricasse’, grubworm appetizers, cats are delicious baked over an open fire, weaszels are pretty good stuffed with garlic and roasted, but, the creme’de-la’creme is nutria rat BBQ. Delicious!

  8. with a racoon you have to make sure you take out the glands or you not only won’t be able to eat it but will have to throw the pot out and move out of the house for a while. depending on what part of the country you are in will depend on what is available and good to eat. many of your rodents are good to eat, but as said, make sure to take the glands out of the inside of the knee part of the back leg and under the arm pits—anything white are the glands. squirrels are rodents and very destructive so I hunt them regularly since cannot keep plants of any sort in the yard unless they are under control. make a tasty gumbo or if small enough they are great fried.

  9. Think twice when considering dining on horse. While considered a delicacy in some culturesm regulations are nearly nonexistent regarding meat quality. On account of wormers and vaccine inoculations, most domesticated horses have fairly high levels of toxic chemicals that humans really wouldn’t want to consume. Better to ride Mr. Ed and go after other game (deer will often come right up to a rider on a horse, making them easy pickin’s) than have him for dinner, IMO.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.