Edible Mammals

Mammals are air-breathing vertebrate animals characterized by the possession of warm blood, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young. Most mammals also possess sweat glands and specialized teeth. Mammals also include some of the largest and most intelligent creatures on the planet, including humans, and whales.

Mammals play many important roles for humans, including food sources (livestock), labor (plowing fields, riding horses), and industrial uses, such as the manufacture of glues and many important chemicals. Mammals are also some of the most cherished pets, including cats, dogs, hamsters and guinea pigs. They are even used to assist humans with daily activities, such as seeing-eye dogs and police dogs and horses. They also play valuable (if not immoral/debatable) roles in the medical and scientific industry as test subjects.

Connecticut has at least 60+ species of mammals recorded in the state. More common mammals include Eastern grey squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, white-tailed deer, opossums, and skunks. Less common and rare mammals include black bears (depending on where you live in the state), bobcats, flying squirrels, porcupines, coyote, gray wolves, and even moose. There have even been recent sightings of mountain lions.

Didelphis virginiana
Common Name: Virginia opossum
The opossum was once a favorite game animal in the United States, in particular in the southern regions which have a large body of recipes and folklore relating to it. Early versions of the Joy of Cooking included recipes for opossum. Many recipes can be found online.

Marmota monax
Common Name: Groundhog
Groundhogs are edible and are reported to taste good.

Mephitis mephitis
Common Name: Striped skunk
Skunks are edible, however not generally considered appetizing due to the smell. The anal scent glands must be removed before cooking. Warnings!

Odocoileus virginianus
Common Name: White-tailed deer
Also known as venison, deer meat is prized by game hunters and gourmands. It is sometimes available in supermarkets and gourmet food stores or can be ordered online.

Ondatra zibethicus
Common Name: Muskrat
Muskrats are edible. There was a custom of eating muskrat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays in Lent that apparently goes back to the early 1800s. Muskrat has the consistency of chicken, but with a unique flavor. Only the hams and shoulders of the muskrat are edible. Remove and discard the musk glands located below the stomach... [READ MORE]

Peromyscus leucopus
Common Name: White-footed mouse
While not typically considered palatable, mice are edible when cooked. Although there obviously isn't much meat.

Procyon lotor lotor
Common Name: Eastern raccoon
While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were a food source for Native Americas, and barbecued raccoon was a traditional food on American farms. The first edition of The Joy of Cooking, released in 1931, contained a recipe for preparing raccoon. Overall not recommended due to the risk of rabies and other diseases. Warnings!

Sciurus carolinensis
Common Name: Eastern gray squirrel
Squirrel is edible and there are recipes available online.

Sylvilagus floridanus
Common Name: Eastern cottontail
Rabbits are edible, flavorful, with a consistency similar to chicken. Place the skinned cleaned rabbit in a pot of salted water and allow the meat to soak for 12 hours inside the refrigerator for best results. Many recipes for rabbit can be found online.

Tamias striatus
Common Name: Eastern chipmunk
While they don't have a lot of meat on them, chipmunks are edible and recipes can be found online.

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Common Name: American red squirrel
Squirrels are edible and recipes can be found online.

Vulpes vulpes
Common Name: Red fox
Fox meat is edible, however not recommended due to the risk of diseases. Warnings!