Is armadillo okay to eat?

Armadillos are unusual looking animals that are found in North, Central, and South America. They have a bony shell that protects them from predators and are known for their ability to curl up into a ball when threatened. Armadillos are one of the few mammals that regularly eat insects and are omnivores meaning they eat plants, insects, and small vertebrates. There are approximately 20 different armadillo species ranging in size from the 5 inch long pink fairy armadillo to the 5 foot long giant armadillo. The nine-banded armadillo is the most common species in the United States.

Is it legal to eat armadillo in the United States?

Yes, it is legal to hunt and eat armadillo in most parts of the United States. Armadillos are not a protected species and are considered a nuisance animal in some regions. They frequently dig up lawns and gardens in their search for grubs and insects. As a result, many states have open hunting seasons that allow landowners to hunt armadillos year-round with few regulations. Texas has the largest armadillo population and hunting is allowed with no closed season or bag limit. Some municipalities and regions do have restrictions on discharging firearms which would affect armadillo hunting. Always check your state and local regulations before hunting armadillos.

Are armadillos safe to eat?

Armadillos can carry diseases and parasites that make their meat unsafe if proper precautions are not taken:

  • Leprosy – Armadillos are one of the few animals that can carry leprosy. The bacteria does not harm the armadillo but can be transmitted to humans. It is recommended to cook armadillo meat thoroughly to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F to kill any potential bacteria.
  • Trichinosis – Armadillos can be infected with the parasite Trichinella spiralis which causes trichinosis in humans. Thorough cooking to an internal temperature of 165°F will kill the parasite.
  • Tularemia – Some armadillos carry the bacteria that causes tularemia or rabbit fever. Wearing gloves when handling or cleaning armadillos can help prevent transmission.
  • Intestinal parasites – Salmonella and toxoplasmosis can be spread through contact with armadillo feces. Care should be taken to avoid contamination when field dressing armadillos.

As long as the meat is properly handled, prepared, and cooked, the risks are low. It is recommended to wear gloves when cleaning the armadillo, avoid contact with fluids or feces, and cook thoroughly. The meat should not be eaten raw or undercooked.

What does armadillo taste like?

The flavor of armadillo meat is often described as tasting like pork or chicken with a unique gaminess. The taste can vary slightly depending on the species and diet but most people describe a delicate white meat with a mild flavor when cooked properly.

Some key points on the taste of armadillo:

  • The meat is lean with little fat which requires special care when cooking to avoid becoming tough.
  • Older armadillos tend to be tougher and more strongly flavored.
  • The taste is comparable to opossum or rabbit with a milder flavor than wild pigs or venison.
  • It can taste slightly salty due to the armadillo’s diet rich in invertebrates.
  • The texture is similar to chicken or pork depending on cooking method.

In general, armadillo meat is considered a lean, tasty meat when properly prepared and cooked. It offers a unique flavored game meat to those willing to hunt and clean their own armadillos. The rich, white meat takes well to many cooking methods including stewing, frying, baking, barbecuing, and using in soups.

How to prepare and cook armadillo

Preparing armadillo meat properly is important to avoid potential health risks and make the meat palatable:

  1. Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning the armadillo.
  2. Remove the shell by cutting along the belly side. It may take some force to cut through the tough shell.
  3. Remove the entrails carefully to avoid rupturing the intestines or bladder which could contaminate the meat.
  4. Soak the meat in salt water for 1-2 hours to draw out any remaining blood and fluids.
  5. Cook thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Popular cooking methods include:

  • Stewing: Cut meat into chunks and slow cook in a stew with vegetables for 3-4 hours.
  • Frying: Cut into strips or nuggets and fry in oil over medium-high heat until browned.
  • Grilling: Marinate pieces in oil, vinegar, and spices. Grill over high heat, turning occasionally.
  • Baking: Place in casserole dish with sauce and vegetables. Bake at 350°F covered for 1 hour.
  • Soup: Add chopped meat and simmer for 1-2 hours until tender.

The meat can dry out quickly so basting, braising, or stewing is recommended. Armadillo lends itself well to Mexican and Cajun cuisine. The versatility allows using it similar to chicken, pork, or beef in many recipes.

Nutrition facts of armadillo meat

Armadillo meat is low in fat, calories, and cholesterol compared to domestic meats. A 3 ounce portion of cooked armadillo provides:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 122
Fat 2.7 g
Saturated fat 0.9 g
Protein 21.4 g
Cholesterol 74 mg

Key nutrition facts:

  • High protein, low fat meat. Less than 8% fat compared over 30% for beef.
  • Lower in calories than beef, pork, chicken, and turkey meat.
  • Very low in saturated fat and less cholesterol than beef or pork.
  • Good source of B vitamins including niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.
  • Provides minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium.

The low fat and cholesterol profile make armadillo healthier than domestic meats. It provides an excellent source of protein while being lower in calories. The leanness does require special preparation but provides a light, mild tasting meat.

History of eating armadillo

Armadillos have been eaten by Native Americans and locals across Central and South America for thousands of years. Some key points:

  • The Aztec people considered armadillos a delicacy and included them in their diets.
  • In Latin America, armadillos are commonly hunted and eaten as a free-range protein source.
  • During the Great Depression in the Southern US, armadillos were an important protein source for struggling families.
  • They were called “Hoover hogs” after President Hoover as they provided meat when other animals were unaffordable.
  • Armadillo meat was once believed to have health benefits and medicinal properties to cure leprosy, asthma, and rheumatism.

While armadillo was historically eaten out of necessity, it is now gaining popularity as a unique game meat. Its mild flavor and leanness make it appealing for low fat diets. The meat is also making its way into higher-end restaurants with armadillo dishes on some Southern and Tex-Mex menus. The armadillo provides an unusual meat eating experience for the adventurous eater.

Popular armadillo game recipes

Here are 3 popular recipes for cooking armadillo:

Armadillo Chili


  • 2 lbs armadillo meat, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15oz cans tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans kidney beans
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook armadillo meat in large pot over medium heat until browned.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Simmer partially covered for 1-2 hours until meat is very tender.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional chili powder.
  6. Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and green onions.

Cajun Armadillo and Rice


  • 1 1/2 lbs armadillo meat, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Season armadillo with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. In large pan, brown meat over high heat for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add onion, pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is tender.
  6. Adjust seasoning to taste before serving.

BBQ Armadillo Burgers


  • 1 lb ground armadillo meat
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 burger buns
  • Toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion


  1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients except buns and toppings.
  2. Form into 4 patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Grill or pan fry over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve on buns with favorite toppings.

These recipes provide a variety of flavorful ways to prepare armadillo meat in appetizing dishes. The meat takes well to being stewed, fried, roasted, grilled, or made into burgers. Feel free to substitute armadillo for beef or pork in your favorite recipes.

Where to get armadillo meat

Armadillo meat may be available from the following sources in some areas:

  • Local hunters – Contact hunters in your area who may have armadillo meat for sale.
  • Specialty meat stores – Some butcher shops and meat markets sell exotic meats including armadillo.
  • Online exotic meat purveyors – Websites like sell and ship armadillo meat.
  • Game meat fundraisers – Conservation and hunting groups may include armadillo at wild game feast events.
  • Direct from farms – Texas armadillo farms like Exotic Meat Market offer live or processed armadillo.

Availability varies greatly by region. In states like Texas and Florida with high armadillo populations, it is easier to find being sold commercially or by hunters. Regulations for selling wild game meat also vary so availability may be limited in some areas. If you want to try cooking armadillo, start by asking local hunters if they will sell or donate meat.

Is eating armadillo recommended?

Armadillo can be eaten but there are some factors to consider:

  • Moderate parasite risk – Thorough cooking mitigates most risks but caution is still needed.
  • Not commonly sold commercially – May be difficult to find or acquire armadillo meat.
  • Acquired taste – Some find the unique flavor off-putting though most describe it as good.
  • Difficult to clean – Proper cleaning and preparation is time consuming.
  • Unusual texture – The meat can become tough if not stewed or cooked gently.

The mild, lean flavor makes armadillo worth trying as an alternative game meat. But finding and preparing it properly requires effort. For most people, eating armadillo will remain a novelty and infrequent event. But it provides a sustainable, free-range meat option for those with access to fresh armadillo. As always, consumption of wild game comes with some risk that proper handling and cooking will mitigate.


Armadillo can be an excellent meat choice when harvested and prepared properly. The low fat, high protein content makes it healthier than many options. It offers a sustainable, free-range alternative to domestic meats for those who hunt or have access to fresh armadillo. The unique flavor and texture provide an adventurous eating experience that armadillo aficionados enjoy. While not without risks if mishandled, armadillo meat offers an intriguing tasting opportunity for exotic food enthusiasts willing to do the work to seek it out and cook it thoroughly. With proper precautions, harvesting and eating armadillo can be an ecologically friendly and tasty culinary experience.

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