Not everyone has access to the armadillo, but if you do, it’s a good form of sustenance in hard times. People have been eating armadillos for decades and then some. Many Southerners sustained their families on “Hoover Hogs” during the Great Depression.
In certain parts of Mexico and Columbia, the armadillo continues to be a part of daily cuisine, and you can find it sold in many meat markets. You can find plenty of websites and videos circulating the internet that glamorize eating armadillo and pass it off as a pork equivalent.
But be forewarned, eating armadillo isn’t without risk and there are a few things you should know.
Leprosy and Other Diseases
The main concern with consuming armadillo is the risk of leprosy, or Hansen’s disease. Studies show the more you handle and eat armadillo, the more at risk you are for contracting the disease.
The nine-banded armadillo, in particular, naturally carries the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, which is responsible for transmitting the disease. Leprosy itself has been around since the beginning of time, but according to the Cleveland Clinic, most people are immune to it.
Although leprosy is treatable, once infected, it takes three to five years for symptoms to even appear. Moreover, leprosy can spread from person to person.
While the disease is treatable, it usually requires multidrug therapy combining different antibiotics, including dapsone, rifampin, and clofazimine. Unfortunately, treatment generally takes one to two years to complete.
In addition to leprosy, armadillos are known to carry many other diseases as well.
One such disease is Baylisascaris procyonis, or the raccoon roundworm. Although human infections are infrequent, they can be severe and affect the eyes, organs, and brain.
There are no known cures for raccoon roundworms. The best-known treatment is albendazole, which can help reduce serious damage.
Additionally, armadillos are known to carry salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. However, there are currently no known cases of salmonella as a result of contact with or consumption of armadillos.
Armadillos are also known to carry Leptospira bacteria, a blood infection with flu-like symptoms, Chagas disease caused by triatomine bugs, and rabies.
While all of these diseases are currently treatable by way of Western medicine, during an apocalyptic scenario, chances of having access to the necessary medicines are highly unlikely.
The good news is that the M. leprae bacteria that transmit leprosy can only survive for a short time in a natural environment. So if you’re going to eat armadillo, you should take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the disease.
You’re most at risk when cleaning and dressing the animal. Wear gloves to minimize the risk of contracting the disease, especially if you have any open cuts on your hands. Always make sure you have a good set of gloves in your bug-out or survival bag.
Additionally, according to Colorado State University’s John Spencer, “your risk of picking up the disease from eating well-cooked meat is almost zero.” So make sure you thoroughly cook armadillo meat prior to consumption. This would all but eliminate any risk of contamination through consumption.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, much like skunks, armadillos have a very strong odor that comes from a particular set of glands. This odor increases with fear and/or anxiety. They say that those who have butchered armadillos can’t stand to eat its meat as a result of this horrible smell.
You’ll only find a couple of websites or YouTube videos that even mention these glands. Most appear to consume armadillo meat without any problems at all. Furthermore, as mentioned above, it’s well known that many people ate “possum on the half-shell” during the Great Depression as a means of keeping food on the table.
So it can be done, but you may want to plug your nose first.
Is it Legal to Hunt and Eat Armadillos?
Laws vary by state, so it’s important to verify the laws in your state. However, many states consider armadillo pests. So much like rats and pigeons, there aren’t many, if any, laws that regulate the killing and eating of armadillos.
Some states, like Texas, do, however, prohibit the sale of live animals for health and safety concerns.
How to Hunt Armadillo
Armadillos have pretty heavy-duty armor that protects their bodies. As such, bullets are not the recommended way of hunting these animals. Very similar to a turtle shell, bullets can actually ricochet.
If you can get a clean headshot, so be it, but otherwise, trapping the armadillo is the safest option. But make no mistake, these armadillos are rather clever, so a live-game box trap is best. Many people snare or trap the armadillo’s underground shelters to catch them heading in or out of their homes.
How to Clean Armadillo
While armadillos do have protective armor, their undersides are pretty soft and fleshy. Skinning them from the underside from the neck to the tail and working your way around the shell is the easiest way to gain access to their meat.
Some people use the shell as a cooking vessel. Once the armadillo is completely gutted, singe the armor to remove all the hairs, then just place your meat in the shell and rest the shell over the hot coals of your campfire.
Others butcher the meat and cook it in a variety of ways:
- Arroz con armadillo
You can find plenty of armadillo recipes on various websites and YouTube videos.
Armadillo is a low-fat, high-protein diet with a few essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, and provides a decent nutritional value.
What Does Armadillo Taste Like?
Armadillo has been described in many different ways. Most people equate it to pork. However, some describe it on a spectrum somewhere between raccoon and turkey. Some compare it to dove and pigeon. Still, others compare it to chicken, venison, or rabbit.
While none can agree on the taste, almost all agree that it is devoid of any gamey flavors and offers a pleasant taste despite the claims of Texas Parks and Wildlife. Some suggest, however, that the key to a successful meal is removing all the fat. The reasoning is that fat causes the foul smell and taste of the meat.