Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 30 July 2010

Another slice of squirrel, Julia?

A few weeks ago I posted on the menace of forty-pound American Lobsters invading British waters and, with selfless patriotism, the valiant JuliaM offered to deal with the interlopers by eating them.

I suggested at the time she might like to apply the same tactics to the ubiquitous grey squirrel, and it looks like other people have been having the same idea. A branch of Budgens has set the cat amongst the pigeons, so to speak, by offering squirrel meat for sale.

This has not pleased the fluffy brigade, who have described the supermarket as profiting from a ‘wildlife massacre’. According to zoologist and veggie lobbyist Juliet Gellatley:

'If this store is attempting to stand out from the crowd by selling squirrel, the only message they are giving out is that they are happy to have the blood of a beautiful wild animal on their hands for the sake of a few quid.'

Er, right.
I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but, carnivore or vegetarian, it seems a little odd to classify the relative morality of meat by the animal’s looks. Presumably venison’s right out, then –"You shot Bambi’s mother!”

Jenny Seagrove goes one better: 'It is unbelievable that our wild grey squirrels are now being killed and packaged up for sale in such high street stores.’

I’m not entirely sure why she has trouble grasping the concept. There may be no long-standing tradition of grey squirrel consumption in Britain, but that’s largely because we didn’t have them until the end of the 19th century.

Had they been here since Norman times, like the humble rabbit, perhaps Ms Seagrove would be rather less starry-eyed about the little pests, instead of railing against the injustice of it all:

'Anyone who cares about wildlife, as I do, should be appalled at Budgens for allowing this. It seems that no animal is to be spared falling victim to such companies' marketing ploys. What gruesome product will be next to grace our food aisles? Blackbird, fieldmouse or mole?'

I can’t wait to find out!


  1. "...it seems a little odd to classify the relative morality of meat by the animal’s looks."

    Plenty of would-be vegetarians happily declare that they'd never 'eat meat with a face'.

    Not sure exactly what that leaves them with, mind you...

    "What gruesome product will be next to grace our food aisles?"

    For Christmas one year, a friend bought me a tin of reindeer pate! It was very nice.

  2. It seems they're not only vermin, but twisted fire-starters too:


    Incidentally, Grey Squirrels sink like stones* in water, so at least they can't be guilty of witchcraft.

    *Please don't report me to the police/RSPCA. I didn't find this out using a live one.

  3. JuliaM, I suppose I ought to declare that I don't eat anything with a IQ higher than that of a chicken. This is for health reasons rather than intellectual snobbery - I live quite comfortably with a family of happy omnivores.

    We too have been given reindeer pate for Christmas. It was enjoyed to the accompaniment of an impromptu performance of 'The Night Before Christmas'.

    Dave H - I'm not sure whether your assurance makes it better or worse; I can't help wondering what possible purpose the immersion of dead squirrels would serve.

    Thanks for the link - I know of a similar case where squirrels got into the house through the chimney and had the kind of house party usually associated with careless invitations on Facebook.

  4. 'Anyone who cares about wildlife, as I do,

    Quite. Then I suggest the stupid arsehole, probably an instrument of costal protection used in Holland as well, finds something out about grey squirrals.

    They DECIMATE the red squirrel population, they virtually eradicate the bird life, by raiding nests for both eggs and young birds, they are vicious terratorial bastards that are a danger even to man, who is, after all, ALSO part of the countries "wildlife".

    And they taste bloody GREAT on Hovis with new Zealand butter.

    As to reindeer, my Grandmother bred them in and around Gällivare, Sweden. Sunday dinner was never complete without the reindeer roast. Besides Pig and horse, it is the only meat I will eat. (Plus the more than occasional squirrel)

    The eyes and the brain are the best bits.

  5. Demetrius - an interesting question; presumably that can't be determined, what with crop spraying and all, but they are most certainly free-range.

    What a dilemma for the yummy mummies of North London; a high-protein, low-fat, free-range food that also happens to be fluffy. Oh dear!

    FT - it's a wonderful example of holier-than-thou arrogance, that 'as I do'.

    Nature may be red in tooth and claw to the rest of us, but it seems these people inhabit a universe where all animals are cute, furry and kind to each other. There is no need, therefore, to cull greys to preserve reds as, left to their own devices, they will establish a happy multicultural society.

  6. I suppose I ought to declare that I don't eat anything with a IQ higher than that of a chicken.

    OK, that's John Prescott usefully assigned, then. Good luck with both preparation and digestion; at least you'll not go short of candles for a year or two.