How to Skin a Squirrel




About: I'm a young guy trying to live life fully. I love eating good food, making cool stuff, and getting outside!

Contrary to modern belief, it is rather quick and easy to skin a squirrel. With some practice, anyone can skin and clean one in less than two minutes. All that is required is a few simple tools and your fresh squirrel.

For a good video, CLICK HERE. This is another instructable about how to do the same thing in video format.

This is a great way to afford meat for people like students living on their own. There is public hunting land everywhere and the bounty is plentiful!

If you like this instructable, please hit the vote button in the upper right corner to help me win a Go Pro for better pictures in the next instructable!

What you'll need:

  1. The Squirrel
  2. Sharp, strong scissors
  3. A sharp knife
  4. A hose and nozzle with the flat setting (optional)

Without further ado, the process!

Step 1: Initial Cut

With this method you will only need to make one small cut. Lay the squirrel on it's stomach and lift the tail.

Cut through the skin at the base of the tail and continue through the tail until you reach the skin on the opposite side. Do not cut through this skin. Continue cutting the skin on either side until there is a flap of skin with the tail attached for an inch and a half to two inches. Both sides should look like the side the white arrow is pointing to.

Step 2: Skinning Part 1

-Tip: Very important!! Keep as much hair off of the carcass as possible while skinning. If hair gets on the carcass, it is devilishly hard to get off and you don't want to eat hair.

Lay the Squirrel on it's back and lift the legs. You should see the tail and the flap of skin laying on the ground. Step on the exposed tailbone firmly. While stepping on the tail bone, pull straight up on the legs. You will see the skin pull away from the body. Keep pulling until it looks like the third and fourth picture with the skin all the way up to the head.

Press your fingers through the armpits and pull the skin downward to the last joint. It should look like the fifth picture.

With the scissors cut off the legs at the first joint and the head at the base of the neck. The body of the squirrel should be skinned.

Step 3: Skinning Part 2

Hold the mostly skinned squirrel up by the back feet and note the skin left on the back legs. Grab the skin and pull it up towards the feet by the exposed edge. Keep pulling till the last joint is exposed. Using the scissors, cut the feet off at the last joint. The entire squirrel should be skinned.

Step 4: Gutting

To start gutting, first split the hips by cutting along the red line. Press down against bone and press until your knife slips through to underneath the bone.

-Tip: I find it easiest to hold the squirrel in my palm while grasping the right leg with my ring and middle fingers pressing against the hip with my pointer finger and down with my thumb. It's what you see me doing in the first picture.

Flip the squirrel around and look for the hole in the neck, marked by the red dot in the second picture. Push one jaw of the scissors into this hole and begin cutting. Cut down the rib cage until you reach the sternum. You will feel resistance before you can go any further. This is the diaphragm. Push until you feel the scissors pop through. Carefully cut the belly flesh down the where you split the hips. Do not cut the guts!! Keep the bottom of the scissors pressed up against the belly skin at all times. The body should be open and all the innards exposed.

Spread the rib cage open with one hand and look for the diaphragm. Peel this away from the inner walls of the body cavity.

-Tip: I find it easiest to press down from the head end of the squirrel until I feel the diaphragm pop loose.

At the neck, peel the esophagus and veins away from the spine. Keep pulling all the way down through the hips until the innards are detached from the body.

-Tip: I find it easiest to use my thumb to gouge out the last little bit of innards from in between the hips.

If the squirrel was a female some of the ovaries may have stayed behind. Pick these and any other things you wouldn't want to eat out of the carcass now.

Step 5: Cleaning the Carcass

After having removed anything that looks inedible from the carcass, spray it thoroughly with a hose nozzle on the "Flat' setting. I have found that this is the easiest and most thorough way of cleaning the carcass. Keep spraying until all blood is removed. You can see a gunshot wound in the shoulder of the squirrel above after having been cleaned out. It is free of any blood and the color looks uniform to the rest of the body. Pick any hair left on the carcass off.

Package or cook fresh. I use a vacuum sealer to preserve all of my squirrels until I cook them.

Discard the innards and skin with feet and head attached. I bury it all in my garden to push up tomatoes the next spring.

You're done!!



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    20 Discussions


    2 years ago

    You can also cut around the middle and pull the fur off like pulling a sock off.

    A good squirrel mulligan is hard to beat.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Im a taxidermist I don't eat them. I'm also optimistic. Guess you'd probably have to be in order to be a taxidermist lol.

    US MIB

    3 years ago

    I love squirle if you've ever seen the walking dead daryle shoots about 20 squirles every season and i shoot 20 or 30 a month


    4 years ago

    if I ever get hungry enough to eat a squirrel, now I know how to prepare one!

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    No, your next step should be learning how to properly cook one. Squirrel is delicious when cooked properly. And worse than ten year old jerky when not. Take the time to look up some recipes. Find those you might like to try. Squirrel is best when slow simmered. This process can take a couple hours, but so worth it. The same holds true of any game you cook. Know how to prepare it for the best dining experience.


    In my opinion, I'd put aside other meat for a good mess of squirrels. Fed on hickory nuts and acorns where I live, they taste great and are plentiful.

    my wookie

    4 years ago on Introduction

    very nice, i need to look at my state laws on this kind of thing first but once im in the clear this will come in handy


    Nice work! Good clear instructions and awesome photos!

    I have a few questions. Do you ever find any use for the fur? Do squirrels even have fur worth
    using? Just curious. About how long does it take you per squirrel? What do you use to hunt them?

    1 reply

    Squirrels actually have great fur! For it to be used though this is not the prefered method for skinning. I might make a later instructable showing the proper procedure for using the fur. Squirrels have very tough hides and can be used for lots of practical things. Traditionally a use was fr show strings, highlighting the endurance of the hides. I have used them as trimmings for things like the ends of deer feet gun racks. It looks really good on just about anything as a trimming.

    I takes me two to three minutes for a larger squirrels and a little less for a smaller one. I use a .22 LR to hunt them, but if a more powerful round is used it can cause more damage and increase the cleaning time.

    Gun rack5.jpg


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    I am eager to try out your Instructable as soon as I kill a squirrel with my slingshot! I like your extensive use of photos to show exactly where to cut and such.

    Lot of nice information, and I love the idea of burying the scraps to turn into vegetables! Thanks for sharing!


    4 years ago

    Squirrels are easy to skin and they taste great. I love them