Far worse than just an empty stomach, true starvation is a slow and painful process. If you have an adventurous palate, you may take offense at the list we have compiled here. Snails sautéed in garlic butter and freshly prepared organ meats are standard fare for foodies these days. For the rest of us, we’d need some serious motivation to munch on some of the creatures listed herein. No matter if you’re lost in the wild or fighting through an urban collapse, hunger is the best spice. And if push ever comes to shove, I bet you’ll be able to choke down a few bites of every animal on this list.
There are scores of different species of earthworm and all are considered safe for human consumption, but they should be purged of their “dirt” before you eat them. An easy way to clean their systems is to place them in a container of damp grass. After a few hours, the critters will be void of the dirt and sand they normally hold. Like almost all animal foods, worms should be cooked before you eat them. I recommend frying. The good news is that fried worms taste a little like jerky. The bad news, average-size worms are only about 1 calorie per gram (not counting any fat used for frying). Worms can be dug with a shovel, or located by quickly flipping over rocks and rotten logs.
2. Snails And Slugs
Terrestrial slugs and snails (those found on land, not the sea) are generally safe for human consumption—after thorough cooking, that is. And their nutritional value certainly justifies the effort of collecting and cooking them. These critters have about 90 calories per 100 grams of “meat”, which is high in protein (12 to 16 percent) and rich in minerals. It’s a little hard to consider them as food though, when you consider their favorite meal is scat. Now, if you had (or wanted) to eat slugs and snails, the safest choice is the snail. Slugs are more prone to eating toxic mushrooms. Snails tend to eat more plant material (when they’re not eating dung, of course).
Each summer, the roar of the cicadas signals a feast in the animal kingdom. Why not join the other animals that are gobbling up this winged windfall of calories? The newly hatched cicadas (called tenerals) are considered the best for eating because their shells are not that hard yet. Your prep work for cicadas is easy: just harvest the slow-witted and slow-moving creatures in the early hours of the morning. They should be blanched (boiled for 4-5 minutes) soon after collecting and before you eat them. Not only will this solidify their insides a bit, it will also kill any bacteria and parasites they’re carrying. Remove the wings and legs.
Grubs aren’t a specific species, but an insect that’s between life stages. No longer an egg, but not an adult, grubs can be a little tricky to identify. So it’s a good thing that 99 percent of them are perfectly fit for human consumption. Follow the example of bears and skunks: rip the bark off dead trees or tear into rotten logs to find them. Grubs, mealworms, and their kin can make good, ah, grub.
Just one ounce of boiled grubs contains 124 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 16 grams of powerful protein.
The humble opossum has sometimes been called the “rat of the woods,” but this misunderstood creature can be surprisingly easy to catch and, occasionally, downright tasty. Okay, not always tasty, just once-in-a-while tasty. If you are lucky and kill the right animal, it can have a flavor a bit like pulled pork. The wrong ‘possom however, well – let’s just hope you don’t get one. Flavor varies from animal to animal. Carefully clean the animal and roast it over a smoky hardwood fire for a unique meal.
Gulls are the pigeons of the beach, eking out a living by scavenging dead fish and scraps that have gone rotten in the sun. But despite their questionable diet and fishy-tasting flesh, you can eat them, even live off them if need be. Case in point: three Mexican fishermen survived in an open boat on the Pacific for nine months in 2005, after the boat ran out of fuel and shore winds pushed them out into the ocean current. They floated nearly 5,000 miles in the deep ocean, surviving on raw fish, turtles, and, yes, seagulls.
Mice, rats, and other rodents may not be at the top of your list for survival trapping, but in some places they are far too abundant to ignore. Aside from venomous snakes, rodents can be the most hazardous food source on this list. The viruses, bacteria, and parasites rodents can carry require us to handle them with extreme caution. But there’s an upside, too: many rodents taste like chicken. Rat kabobs and mouse soup may not seem like fancy fare, but when handled carefully and cooked until well-done, this meat can sustain a survivor just like any other.
Crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers are a diverse group of insects that are generally safe to eat. Just make sure to avoid the colorful members of these families: red, orange, yellow, and blue colors are usually warnings. The heads and small legs should be removed, and the bugs should always be cooked thoroughly. Bugs with crunchy shells (exoskeletons) are often the most laden with parasites. Hunt for them in the early morning, when they are less active due to the colder temperatures.