The most important thing to know is which animals are poisonous; since there are only a small number in that group, it is easier to commit that list to memory than to try and memorize all the edible animals. Animal size is a consideration and in general, smaller animals are a much better bet than large wild game, not only because the smaller ones are easy to prepare, but also because there are more of them in the city. It is important to know the characteristics and typical behaviors of various kinds of animals. Some questions you’ll want to ask yourself when hunting are:
- What animals can easily be trapped?
- What do they eat?
- Where do they hide?
- What kind of shelter do they use (den or nest)?
- Do they tend to feed in more or less permanent locations?
- Which animals leave trails that can be identified?
- What are their feeding habits?
- Do they come out at night or during the day?
Just about every creature that moves, whether by crawling, walking, swimming or flying is edible. The biggest problem will be getting over the predictable revulsion you will have when faced with certain unfamiliar food choices. There usually isn’t much of a variety of animals in an urban environment but people who have successfully survived in an urban disaster environment have managed to capture and eat all kinds of creatures. If you refuse to eat because you find what’s available is simply too un-appetizing, you’ll end up risking your health and ultimately your life.
Mammals (second to insects) are by far the best sources of protein you can find. Of all the food sources they are also arguably the best tasting, at least in the view of Americans. However, catching them can be quite dangerous, the larger the animal, the greater the damage they can do to you. All mammals have teeth and most will bite and/or attempt to inflict injury in other ways if threatened or cornered. Don’t take this warning lightly as even a bite caused by a small animal such as a squirrel can become infected. There are a large number of pet owners in the city and due to the pets socialized behavior many of them will come straight to you if offered food. There will be plenty of dogs and cats roaming around the city but the majority of them will be trapped inside the condo buildings and homes. Listen for barking dogs when looting an apartment building as you’ll be directed to your next meal.
Rats and mice are also mammals and due to their abundance in the urban landscape, they’ll be an excellent food source. Just be aware of where you’re catching them. Avoid catching rats near the dumpsters or smelly allies as they probably have unhealthy diets. Hunt for rats in the parks and forested areas as they’ll be much healthier.
During World War II the Nazis farmed and bread rats for consumption due to their rapid growth, reproduction cycle and low maintenance. They were actually considered a delicacy! If you have a large supply of grains or rice, having a rat or mouse farm can be a very lucrative and smart investment.
Unlike reptiles and insects, all birds are edible. As with all wild creatures, the trick to catching birds is in knowing the habits and behaviors of the various species. For example, if you study the birds’ activities you will see their flyways (the air routes they take from the roost to feeding areas, water, and back to the roost). After you’ve learned these patterns, a trap can then be set across the flyway. In general, roosting sites and bodies of water are good places to set up traps or snares. With some birds such pigeons, you can take the bird directly from its roost by hand at night! Some birds during nesting season will not leave their nest day or night, even when danger is near. Thus knowing when and where the birds are likely to nest will make it much easier to catch them.
Don’t forget that nesting birds also mean eggs! Don’t remove all of the eggs; leave a few and mark them in some way. Some birds will lay more eggs to “refill” the nest and so when you return you’ll be able to tell which eggs are the fresh ones (they’ll be the ones without a mark). Take the eggs, again leaving the marked ones and you can keep coming back again repeating the process. In an urban environment you’ll find that birds set up their nests on building rooftops, thick hedges, building ledges and the places humans usually don’t venture.
One of the easiest ways to catch a larger bird (excluding Crows due to their intelligence) is to just feed them! City birds such as Pigeons and Sea Galls are so use to humans that you can virtually hand feed them, meaning you can lure them in with some food then either club a few to death or just grab them with gloved hands and break their necks. Another method is to place a small bite size chunk of bread around a fish hook tied to a fishing wire. Throw the hooked bread out to a timid bird and when they’ve swallowed it down… pull the wire and reel them in. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?