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How to Eat Roadkill

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Eat Roadkill to Save Travel Funds —

This travelogue entry suggests another way to save money to travel by eating roadkill. If done properly, roadkill can provide an occasional free meal when the opportunity arises. This entry also shows how to skin and dress a squirrel.

Part of the philosophy of travel is to never pass up a free meal.

Will one free meal ever have any real impact on your travel funds future or present?

Probably not.

But the outlook of always being on the ready for a free meal and taking them every time they arise will. Taken in isolation, one free meal gets you nowhere, but dozens — hundreds — of free meals over the years keeps your belly full and your legs a roving.

It is my impression that traveling, and by extension saving/ making money for travel, is akin to a philosophy — a way of looking at the world and your place in it. By saving a few dollars by scooping up and taking a free source of protein allows me to move a little further through space and time. By saving a few dollars by scooping up and taking a free source of protein also allows me to take an active part in my existence — to put my energy directly into my belly — and to feel as if I earned my miles traveled. Claiming, cleaning, and cooking roadkill takes work, but it is work that, if practiced as a rule, will take you around the world as many times as you would like.

A traveler’s main resource is money, to conserve resources at every turn is to have enough resources to go where you really want to go.

Eating road kill to save travel funds

Fresh roadkill is meat, fresh roadkill can be eaten like any other meat — given that you prep it yourself. A walk through the thoroughfares, parks, and boulevards of a city can reveal a generous splatter of pre slaughtered meat. Free protein lays underfoot everywhere, you just need to check it out, scoop it up, skin it, cook it thoroughly, and eat it.

This is not a money saving tip that probably should be applied with any regularity — I don’t imagine many travelers making a career out of eating roadkill — but only when the opportunity arises. This is a travel tip of opportunity — I would not let an entire pizza in a dumpster go to waste, so why would I let that freshly run down squirrel rot uneaten?

To do so would to be a chooser rather than a beggar, a picky scavenger.

I have had friends who have acquired large portions of their weekly protein allowance by scavenging parks for freshly smushed squirrels, but it is my feeling that the time/ food ratio of doing this may stress the bounds of what could be worthwhile: there is not much meat to be had from a squirrel, rabbit, or other small road kill delicacy. Therefore, as with most scavenging tactics, this is an activity of opportunity.

How to skin and eat a road kill squirrel

Only take roadkill that is fresh. If the animal is stiff, bloated, cold, has glazed over eyes, it is not fresh. A good piece of roadkill has a pliable body and legs and parts that can still be moved easily. Do not take a piece of roadkill that has already turned towards rigamortus. Do not even touch a dead animal that has already been feasted on my insects and maggots. Take only what has been freshly run over and is still warm and bendable.

Choosing a piece of roadkill to take home and eat is like watching an old lady pick out the best watermelon in a grocery store:

They pick all of them up, knock on it, listen to its insides, and then they pick the best damn watermelon of the bunch.

Choose roadkill the same way. If you did not see the animal get run over, inspect it well before taking it home. Try to touch it as little as possible with your bare hands. Poke it with a stick to see if is too stiff or bloated. Flip it over a few times to make sure that it is not already stuck to the pavement and being eaten by insects and worms. Look at its eyes — are they clear and black?

Ideally, I would not take a piece of roadkill that I suspect could be over an hour old. Ideally, I would like to either see that car run over the animal or be able to gauge the time of death by my familiarity with an area:

I know this dead squirrel was not here the first time I walked by here, therefore it must have been run over no more than a half hour ago.

Like this, you will be able to determine if the smushed animal is, in fact, fresh enough to eat. If you have any real suspicions about how old a piece of roadkill is or if it could be good enough to eat, don’t bother with it. As I stated earlier, one free meal in isolation is not going to get you very far — so taking an iffy piece of roadkill is probably not worth the risks.

Go dumpster diving instead.

Dumpster Dive for Free Food

But if you know that the easy meat was freshly killed, then scavenge it. Pick it up by the tail with a rag in your hand — if one is available — and try to touch the roadkill with bare hands as little as possible.

How to skin a squirrel

1. Put on a pair of clean latex gloves and get a sharp knife.

Roadkill squirrel on cardboard

Roadkill squirrel on cardboard

2. Lay the squirrel face down on a piece of cardboard or some other acceptable skinning platform.

Cut through tail bone but not all the way through the skin on the other side

Cut through tail bone but not all the way through the skin on the other side

3. Pick up its tail and cut it up from the underside through the tail bone but not all the way through the skin.

Make incisions through the skin in front of the hind legs on both sides moving towards the stomach -- only cut the skin and fur, do not cut too deep

Make incisions through the skin in front of the hind legs on both sides moving towards the stomach -- only cut the skin and fur, do not cut too deep

4. Insert the knife through the inscision that you made when you cut through the tail and cut around the front of each hind leg moving towards the belly. Make sure that you are only cutting the skin, do not puncture the stomach lining.

5. Flip the squirrel over so that it is now belly up.

Step on the tail and pull up on the hind legs removing the skin up towards the head

Step on the tail and pull up on the hind legs removing the skin up towards the head

6. Step on its tail and pull up on its legs. The skin should roll up over the body and towards the head. You are essentially turning the squirrel inside out. The skin and fur and tail should now be over the animal’s head. Make sure that the inside of the squirrel is still a little warm. If it is stone cold, then you may want to terminate the procedure, as the animal could not be very good to eat anymore.

7. Cut off the front feet and pop the front legs out of the skin.

8. Chop off the head. All of the skin and fur should come with it. Throw this away.

9. Cut off the back feet an remove the fur from the rear legs by rolling it down.

10. Remove the guts. Throw them away.

After the roadkill is skinned and gutted, wash the meat while still attached to the skeleton

After the roadkill is skinned and gutted, wash the meat while still attached to the skeleton

11. Wash the body.

Boiling roadkill squirrel

Boiling roadkill squirrel

12. Cook it as you wish — bake, fry, or boil.

If there has been too much trauma on one part of the body from being run over by a car, you may want to only use a portion of the meat. For this squirrel in the photos above, I only ate the hind legs. Not much meat, but more than what I would have had otherwise.

Cooked squirrel

Cooked squirrel

How to Save Money Books

How to Save Money to Travel Project

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Filed under: Budget Travel, Cheap Food, Food, Save Money for Travel

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap