Nature has ways of providing us with everything we need to sustain ourselves if modern society fails us. What sources of food would benefit us in the wild? We know we can eat deer, fish, or even squirrels, but can you eat a possum? Furthermore, if we can, what’s the best way to prepare it and what other benefits can eating a possum offer us?
Let’s find out.
Can Humans Eat Possums?
Yes, humans can eat possums as long you cook them the right way. Otherwise, you may face an issue worse than starvation due to the ailments possums might carry.
You should skin them to check for diseases these creatures might harbor. Otherwise, clean the meat, and you have yourself a decent meal in the forest when you have no other options.
People in New Zealand have eaten brushtail possums ever since their introduction to the country in 1837. These creatures became such a significant threat to the country’s environment that citizens were encouraged to kill them. So, some decided that it would be efficient to eat them as well rather than wasting meat.
In the United States, we have the Virginia opossum. Many will also find this same species throughout Canada. However, humans can still eat these possums. As a matter of fact, as a child, Jimmy Carter ate a lot of them.
However, possums serve as an essential mediator in nature. These wild animals control local pests like mice in addition to insects. They also eat nearly anything from rotting fruit, to slugs, to cockroaches. Because they are immune to snake venom and scorpion stings, they are a great natural quality control for these dangers.
Because of this, I only recommend eating possums if you’re in a dire situation.
What Does Possum Meat Taste Like?
While some say possums taste like a lamb, others state their taste depends on their food supply at the time.
If you have an opossum whose diet revolves around eggs, fruit, and bugs will have a more pleasant taste than eating one that has survived off of pet food or whatever’s in the garbage cans.
If the possum ate garbage before you killed it, the meat’s scent would be a dead giveaway. If it did eat trash, it doesn’t mean it’ll taste like it. The possum would likely have a greasy taste.
When you’re in the wild and hunt a possum, you won’t run into this problem. Wild possums generally feast on whatever they can find, including animals, plants, seeds, and insects.
Some people like to add garnishes to their possums. If you’re in the woods, you likely won’t have any on you. However, you can enhance the possum’s flavor and transform it into a tastier meal with natural garnishes like wild thyme or rosemary.
Possum meat isn’t gamey like other meat you’ll find in the wild. It has a fair amount of protein and nutrients to keep you going whenever you don’t have anything else to eat. Possum meat is a great source of Protein with around 241% of your daily value in one pound of meat. It also includes Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium, and provides a high amount of Vitamin B12.
Possum meat is low in sodium, but does contain quite a bit of cholesterol.
What Diseases Can You Get From a Possum?
The primary disease to watch out for when eating possums is tuberculosis (TB). Moreover, opossums potentially carry other diseases they pick up from eating insects like ticks and other parasites, however opossums are generally resistant to many diseases.
You can determine whether a possum has TB by skinning them and observing their groin and underarm glands. If you notice them swelling into large abscesses identical to a golf ball, then the opossum isn’t safe to eat.
Fortunately, possums are resistant to rabies. This is because their body temperatures are too low to host the rabies virus. It is also rare that they contract Lyme disease from tick bites. Keep in mind that even if they’re drooling and hissing at you, it’s just a part of their self-defense arsenal to ward off predators.
How Do You Cook Possum?
To properly cook a possum to avoid eating unclean meat, you’ll want to follow these steps:
- Skin it to see whether they have any diseases and to rid the animal of any lice or fleas.
- Hang it from a tree, cut its throat, and let its blood drain.
- Remove its organs and bury them underground to avoid attracting predators.
- Rinse the opossum meat inside and out.
- Jab your possum with a giant stick and hover it over a campfire. Hold and rotate once in a while until your opossum’s crispy like chicken.
If you’re backpacking and have an extra cooking pot, cooking possums can also be achieved by throwing your meat into the pot, fill it with a bit of water, and stew your opossum for about an hour.
It is essential to thoroughly cook the meat. If you eat undercooked meat, you can risk getting sick which could eventually lead to severe consequences in the wild.
When stewing, the possum’s fat will mix with the water, making for a tasty possum gravy.
If you happen to have extra spices like pepper in your bag that were intended for recipes before you ran out of food, add it to the crisp or stewed possum. That way, you’ll get a little more kick from your meat.
Unfortunately, you’re not likely going to have your pressure cooker when in the woods for an exquisite opossum meal. So, you’re going to have to eat possums like European settlers.
How Do You Kill a Possum Quickly?
The best way to kill a possum quickly is with a shotgun or pistol to end its life in the most humane way possible. Otherwise, if you don’t have a gun on you, opt for trapping it instead.
If there’s any intention of eating the possum, do not poison it because that almost guarantees you would ingest the same poison.
If you decide to trap it, these critters are generally unaware of their surroundings and are easy to catch. If you happen to have a cage trap on you, set bait inside the cage. Some bait the possum would go for, like fruit, marshmallows, or cat food—if you happen to have any for some reason.
If there’s no cage in your bag, but there is a net, use it to catch the possum if you find it trapped.
There aren’t any specific laws in the United States that state opossums are protected. Moreover, there are open seasons for trapping and hunting these animals.
However, some areas forbid you from handling possums yourself. Rangers would kill the possum by using carbon dioxide so research state and local wildlife laws before trapping and hunting possums.
Humans can eat possums under the right circumstances. Ensure you check the critter for tuberculosis before cleaning and cooking it. Otherwise, for the most part, it’s safe to eat these creatures. If you decide to kill possums, either trap them or shoot them to end its life quickly.
Whether you’re lost in the woods or are running out of food, possums make for an excellent protein source. One that’ll also fill your belly and give you enough energy to do whatever you need.