You may be familiar with several small game animals found in various parts of the world. Contrary to common belief, most small game animals are edible.
If you are wondering; 'can you eat skunks?’ The answer is yes. Skunks happen to be one of the edible small game animals.
They make for a decent meal, but they are certain conditions you need to follow while hunting skunks. While killing a skunk, you need to ensure it does not release the pungent spray from its anal glands.
After killing it, you need to skin it, de-gland it, wash it thoroughly, and brine it before cooking. If you follow the steps precisely, you'll end up with a tasty meal.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about skunks including their flavor, how to hunt, how to prepare for cooking, and their diet. Let’s dive in.
Is it safe to eat?
Skunk meat is safe to eat as long as you get rid of the bacteria-filled bag in the skunk’s anus before cooking the meat.
If you don’t remove the sac properly, it will contaminate the meat by releasing an unpleasant odor and harmful bacteria. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry while preparing the meat.
You should also be extra careful while preparing the meat because there is a high risk of rabies infection. A small cut to your finger as you prepare skunk meat may prove fatal.
What does it Taste Like?
The taste of skunk meat is somewhat similar to that of a rabbit or raccoon. However, skunk meat has a distinctly gamey flavor. It is also bonier compared to rabbit meat, but the taste is pretty much the same.
To enjoy the flavor of skunk meat, you should tenderize the meat before cooking. You can do this using a blend of seasonings, marinade, or cooking the meat using a slow-cooking method.
Be careful not to overcook the meat because if you do, it will be too tough for your liking.
When under a threat, a skunk releases a pungent spray from its anal glands. Most predators find the spray repulsive and therefore opt for other animals.
If you decide to start hunting skunks, the chances are that you’ll come across many of them since predators hardly hunt them down. I highly recommend hunting skunks in the wild as opposed to the ones you see loitering in your neighborhood.
The ones you see loitering around most likely feed on leftovers in bins while those in the wild have a better diet. It is only natural that wild skunks taste better in comparison.
You can hunt skunks by sneaking up on them and pinning them down with a weighted blanket. However, you should be careful because skunks use their teeth and claws on you when you’re close thus exposing you to rabies infection.
Always wear protective clothing and cover your entire body when hunting skunks.
Another alternative is to lay traps for the skunks. However, you should note that you may end up catching other animals instead of skunks.
You can also hunt skunks by shooting them. Use a small-caliber rifle for this, and always aim for the lung. The rifle will ensure that the meat does not get tainted, and the skunk is less likely to spray. Do not shoot it on the head because it will release the pungent spray.
After successfully hunting down your skunk, don’t move it around too much on your trip back home.
I highly recommend hunting skunks during winter since they are more active then.
Skunks and Rabies
Statistics show that skunks are the third most reported animal to spread rabies. Therefore, you should keep in mind that skunks are potential carriers of rabies.
It would be best if you don't hunt skunks that exhibit symptoms of rabies.
Some of the symptoms you should look out for include; increased aggression, excessive drooling, mouth discharge, eye discharge, among others. Additionally, you must not approach skunks that seem unhinged or oblivious to their surroundings.
Note that you are more likely to contract rabies from a skunk while preparing it as opposed to eating it. While butchering skunks, you need to be precise and finger-sensitive. Any simple mistake may expose you to infection.
The good news is that rabies has a short life span outside its host's body. Additionally, the skunk cannot infect you with rabies unless it has active symptoms.
Cooking the skunk at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes will get rid of rabies. Therefore, if you have doubts on whether or not the skunk had rabies, cook it over the recommended heat.
How to Prepare Skunk for Cooking
After skinning and deglanding your skunk, you should wash the carcass using warm water and soap. Other than the scent glands, it would be best if you removed the fat that surrounded them.
When the carcass is clean, hang it by its hind legs and pat it dry. Once dry, use a sharp knife to cut the meat.
The next step is to brine it. I highly recommend brining it as it neutralizes the skunk’s game flavor. Additionally, it helps the meat retain moisture and denatures its proteins.
Another advantage of brining is that it slows down the growth of bacteria. Remember it would be best to cook the skunk as soon as possible after killing it to reduce the risk of contamination.
I highly recommend wearing gloves while preparing skunks to reduce the risk of contracting rabies.
Which parts of the skunk should you eat?
As mentioned above, skunk meat is game meat. Like any other game meat, the best parts to eat are the liver, heart, and kidney. These parts are nutritious and contain a wide range of vitamins.
It would be best if you avoided the stomach meat because skunks are omnivores and carrion eaters. Therefore, the chances are that their stomachs have raw or rancid meat, including insects. Likewise, don’t eat the intestines.
A skunk’s brain is not palatable. Consuming the brain may result in prion diseases. Prion diseases cause various health issues. Additionally, a skunk’s brain is rich in cholesterol and fat which may result in high blood pressure.
If you want to eat skunk, stick to the lean meats.
What do Skunks feed on?
Skunks are omnivores and carrion eaters. 90% of their diet is meat. What the skunk eats significantly determines its lifespan and health.
The typical diet of a skunk includes; insects, snakes, rodents, fish, eggs, rabbits, nesting birds, reptiles, and moles. Sometimes, skunks eat grapes, cherries, grass, and berries that they find lying around.
Skunks that live in urban areas have a poor diet compared to those living in the wild. The reason for this is that the skunks mostly rely on leftover food they find in bins. Statistics show that they have a higher chance of suffering from intestinal worms.
Skunks mostly eat meat because their stomachs cannot digest plant-based protein properly. Therefore, they feed on meat to avoid intestinal disorders they are likely to get if they eat plants.
Most people avoid eating skunks because of the pungent smell they release. However, it is perfectly safe to eat, and when cooked properly, it makes for a delicious meal.
Other than being tasty, skunks have several nutritional benefits. They are rich in proteins and vitamins. It would be a great addition to your diet.