Usually, when we think of eating meat, we think of chicken, lamb, beef, deer, or even rabbit. However, there are many other animals in the wild. What if you are stranded in the wild and need to find food? Possums are a common wild animal. So, can you eat possums?
Yes, you can eat possums. However, they harbor tons of bacteria and germs. Therefore, you must clean and cook it properly to kill all the germs. Otherwise, it could make you seriously ill.
That being said, killing and hunting possums is not legal in all states of the US. Here is all you need to know.
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Can Humans Eat Possums?
Humans can eat possums. But to eat it safely, you need to clean the meat thoroughly and cook it properly. Possums roam around in the wild. And they may have infections and diseases.
Who knows what they are up to and where they have been. Wild possums can harbor all kinds of diseases and bacteria. Therefore, eating an infested possum could make you seriously sick.
Some possums can be infected with diseases like Tularaemia. This disease can also affect other animals, such as rabbits and foxes. Moreover, possums can also transmit Tuberculosis.
So, you need to check for any signs of disease and clean the meat thoroughly. As long as you do that, it is safe to eat it. Another thing to remember is to eat possums only if you have to.
It might not seem like possums do much in the wild. But they are quite important to their habitat and environment. Possums play a very important role in nature’s pest control.
They kill rats, insects, slugs and also eat rotting fruits. This sort of keeps the environment clean. And if you have to know, yes, they also kill and eat cockroaches. We are sure some of you will be very happy about that.
Additionally, possums are resistant to snake and scorpion venoms. As a result, possums also keep their numbers in the wild in check.
What Does Possum Meat Taste Like?
Now that you know whether you can eat possums, the natural follow-up question is, what does it taste like? Possum meat is very fatty. That is why when people prepare possums, they usually slow-roast them.
Slow roasting helps to render the fat out. However, the taste of possum meat depends on what it eats in the wild. Wild possums that ate mostly berries and insects are going to taste gamey. The fatty meat also makes the meat taste akin to that of grass-fed beef.
However, a possum that mostly eats different kinds of nuts will taste very different. The texture of their meat is somewhere between pork and chicken.
Nutritional Value of Possums
Possums have pretty good nutritional value. It has no dietary fiber and carbohydrates, of course. Here is a quick look at the nutritional value of possum meat:
- Protein: 25.7g
- Total fat: 8.7g
- Sodium: 49.3mg
- Calcium: 14.5mg
- Phosphorus: 236.3mg
- Iron: 3.9mg
- Potassium: 372.3mg
- Cholesterol: 109.7mg
These nutritional values are for a 3oz serving of cooked and roasted possum meat.
Health and Safety Concerns
Possum meat needs to be thoroughly washed and properly cleaned before you can eat it. Otherwise, it may make you sick. There are two major risks when eating possum meat:
One of the health risks of eating possums is Tularaemia. In some cases, it can lead to pneumonia and death. Tularaemia is a disease that is caused by a bacteria called Francisella tularensis.
If you eat possum that has Tularaemia, there is a chance you will also contract it. As mentioned, it can be fatal. However, other symptoms include dry cough, headaches, joint pain, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. This disease is similar to the flu. But it can be much more deadly.
Tuberculosis, commonly called TB, is another major health risk when eating possums. You might experience night sweats, chest pain, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and more.
The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes Tuberculosis. TB can also infect other animals, such as deer and badgers.
One disease you do not have to worry about dealing with when eating possums is rabies. Fortunately, possums are immune to rabies. Their body temperature is relatively low.
As a result, rabies does not survive in their bodies. Moreover, even though possums eat a lot of ticks in the wild, they do not contract Lyme disease either.
Legalities and Regulations
As always, it is better to check local laws regarding hunting possums. In some states, it is legal to hunt possums if you have a valid hunter’s license.
Possums are considered nuisance animals. However, if you need to kill one, do so humanely. There are also no specific laws that prohibit you from eating it either.
On the other hand, killing a possum in some states, for example, California, is illegal. Although you can use pest control methods, you cannot hunt or kill one.
Moreover, pest control should be done humanely as well. As we mentioned, possums are very beneficial for the environment. This is one of the major reasons why it is illegal to kill it in some states.
So, you need to be careful. Always check what your local laws state and act accordingly. Illegally killing a possum can result in serious criminal charges. And those are never worth it.
How Do You Cook Possum to Ensure Safety and Optimal Flavor: Step By Step Guide
Since possums can be infested with germs and bacteria, it is imperative that you clean and cook it properly. Fortunately, cooking possums is not that hard. You just need to follow a few simple steps:
Step 1: Clean It
The first step is to clean the possum. This part is crucial. We know we mentioned it a couple of times. That just goes to show how important it is. Possums can harbor tons of bacteria and germs. So, clean it thoroughly.
Step 2: Skin It
After properly cleaning the animal, it is time to skin it. Use a sharp knife for this. It is safer, and you will also have cleaner cuts. Start skinning it from its back legs and gradually move forwards.
Tip: If you want your possum to taste less gamey, you can remove the thin layer of fat under its skin.
Step 3: Remove Head, Tail, and Internal Organs
The third step is to remove the head, tail, and internal organs. To remove the organs, make a clean cut along its belly. Then remove the guts.
Step 4: Soak in a Salt and Vinegar Solution for 24 Hours
After skinning it and removing its guts, soak it in a salt and vinegar brine for at least 24 hours.
This bit is very important. Not only does it tenderize the meat, but it also kills any foodborne illness and germs. After letting it soak for 24 hours, it is time to cook it.
Step 5: Bake for 2 Hours
Let’s bake the possum this time. You would want to just put it in a pan and bake for 2 hours.
Step 6: Add Other Ingredients
After baking it, take it out, add carrots, some onions, a bit of sage, and potatoes. Then put the possum back in with all the added ingredients, and slow cook it till it is done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you eat possums raw?
You should never eat a possum raw. Possums can carry tons of bacteria and germs. Eating it raw will make you very sick.
Can possums be farmed for meat?
Possums were usually farmed for their fur. But nowadays because of their good protein these animals are farmed in many places for meat.
Are there any humane ways to hunt possums?
After you have caught one in the wild, the most humane way to kill a possum is to shoot it in the head. This will kill the animal instantly. If you have never handled a gun, you can try a club blow to its head.
So, can you eat possums? Yes, you can. However, you need to be very careful when cleaning and cooking it. Since possums are wild animals, they can harbor many bacteria and germs.
If you do not kill the germs, you risk catching diseases like Tuberculosis (TB) and Tularaemia. Moreover, consider whether you need to eat a possum in the first place.
They are very beneficial creatures for their environment. So, only kill and eat one if there is no other option. Additionally, hunting or killing possums in some states is not legal. Make sure you check your local laws.
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