Can You Eat Chipmunk, or Will it Make You Ill?


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Last Updated: February 7, 2023

Chipmunks might look cute and cuddly, but they carry numerous diseases and parasites that might make you think twice about eating them. 

Some say that eating chipmunks has potential health risks because of the diseases and parasites they carry, while others claim that chipmunk meat is tasty, nutritious, and safe when properly prepared. 

Is Chipmunk Meat Safe to Eat?

Chipmunks are similar to squirrels and, like their fuzzy-tailed friends, have to fight off parasites, ticks, mites, and fleas. This makes chipmunks less appetizing in the summer when these blood-suckers are most active. 

As with squirrels, chipmunks can also carry diseases like leptospirosis and salmonella and could be exposed to pesticides, insecticides, and other environmental toxins. However, it’s unlikely chipmunks will contain higher concentrations of such toxins than the meat you buy from your local butcher. 

A study by scientists at the Rovira I Virgili University (URV) concluded that

“Most of these substances are fat-soluble, so any food with high-fat contents accumulates higher levels of micropollutants.”

Chipmunk meat is very low in fat and, therefore, unlikely to contain dangerous concentrations of environmental toxins. A greater concern is the diseases you could contract by handling the animal. 

Chipmunks “play a major role in infecting black-legged ticks with the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.”  

Similarly, there’s no guarantee that the chipmunk you’re eating lived a hygienic existence. It could easily carry bacteria that, if not cooked thoroughly, could lead to food poisoning. 

How to Prepare Chipmunk

The best way to ensure your chipmunk meat is safe is to clean and cook it thoroughly. This time-consuming process involves removing all the ticks and fleas before skinning the chipmunk. 

You can remove ticks and fleas by placing the chipmunk in an airtight container, along with a few cloves of garlic. The smell of garlic will cause the fleas to jump off the chipmunk, making it safer to handle. 

The next step is to remove the skin, which this video shows in stomach-churning detail. 

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to remove the stomach and other inedible innards, which is done by cutting into the chipmunk’s pelvic area and pulling them out through the incision.

In a survival situation, the easiest way to cook a chipmunk is to pierce it with a skewer and cook it over a campfire. This method will make the meat edible but not necessarily tasty! 

Slow-cooking chipmunk meat is preferable insofar as it makes the bones easier to remove and means you can enjoy more of the meat. 

The average chipmunk only weighs around 5oz, there’s not a lot of meat on it to start with, so if you’re relying on it for your daily protein fix, you want to get the best yield you possibly can. 

Where to Find Chipmunk Recipes 

Very few chipmunk recipes are available online, which is surprising given how many different methods there are for preparing other wild meats. 

Fortunately, chipmunks are similar enough to squirrels that you can use any of the recipes listed in our article, can you eat squirrels?

Another approach is to cut your chipmunk meat into small pieces, and deep fry them. 

To do this, season the meat and then cover the pieces in flour. Next, dip them into some beaten egg before covering them in a second coating of flour. These tasty morsels can be either shallow or deep-fried and are delicious served with a rich onion-based gravy. 

What Does Chipmunk Meat Taste Like?

Like many wild meats, chipmunk tastes similar to chicken but has a tougher texture due to the chipmunk’s active lifestyle. Although the meat is fairly mild, it has a distinct, slightly nutty flavor that goes well with a wide range of herbs and seasoning. 

A long, slow braise is the best way to combat this sinewy texture and will highlight the subtle flavors of the meat. 

Is Chipmunk Meat Good for You?

Chipmunk meat is high in protein and low in calories, making it surprisingly healthy. It’s also low in carbohydrates and contains essential minerals and vitamins, including:

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Is it Legal to Hunt and Eat Chipmunks?

Different states have different regulations governing the hunting and removal of chipmunks. You can legally hunt chipmunks all year round in some states, like Indiana and Michigan. Chipmunks are protected in other states, such as Arkansas and Georgia, and you’ll need a permit to hunt one unless it’s on your property. 

In most states, it’s legal for a landowner to remove or kill a chipmunk causing property damage.

Even where it’s legal to hunt chipmunks, there are still restrictions regarding the weapons you can use and where. For instance, it might be permitted to shoot a chipmunk with a .22 caliber rifle in a Wildlife Management Area but illegal within city limits. 

In most states, hunting or trapping chipmunks is legal, provided you have the appropriate license, although some states limit such activity to a specific hunting season.

How To Hunt Chipmunk Legally And Ethically

Hunting chipmunk is very similar to hunting squirrels, and similar restrictions apply. Although one of the best ways of hunting chipmunks is by using a slingshot, this isn’t legal everywhere. Other effective alternatives include BB and .22 caliber rifles and baited traps or snares.  

Conclusion

Many people find the idea of eating chipmunks off-putting, which is strange as they’re very similar to squirrels. Chipmunks can carry diseases and often have parasites like ticks and fleas, especially during spring and summer. Chipmunks hunted in winter will generally have a lower parasitic load, making them safer and easier to handle and eat. 

Some states restrict the hunting of chipmunks to a specific season, while some discourage it altogether, so you must check the local regulations before heading off in pursuit of these furry critters.  

Where legal, however, chipmunk meat is both healthy and tasty when prepared correctly and could give you the protein boost you need to survive in the wilderness. 

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