SCALY SUPPER
OFFGRID|Issue 45
An Overview of Hunting Reptiles for Survival
Johnathan David

Maybe you’re a survivalist who fantasizes about retreating into nature and living off the land after civilization collapses, or perhaps you’re a hard-core camper who prefers to exist in the outdoors even before doomsday has come. Maybe you’ve stumbled across this article, and now your curiosity has been piqued as to how to survive in the wild.

This guide will teach you the dos (and importantly, the dots) of hunting reptiles in the wild — which reptiles to hunt, which to avoid, how to identify and catch them, and finally, how to cook them. For anyone who sees lunches of lizards or suppers of snakes in their future, this article is essential.

Which Reptiles Should You Hunt?

Lizards:

If you’re traveling in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll need to steer clear from certain venomous species of lizard; in the United States, the only one to be aware of is the Gila monster. All other lizards native to the U.S., in theory, are safe to eat. Certainly, there’s a risk of bacteria and parasites, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the section on how to cook reptiles.

Most lizards you’ll encounter are relatively small and won’t offer a great deal of meat. You’ll need to hunt for many of them in order to get your fill. This isn’t the most efficient strategy, since lizards tend to be quick and agile, making them difficult to trap or spear. Beggars certainly can’t be choosers for those living off the land, but if you have the option, you’re likely to have better luck with other species.

Snakes:

So long as you cut off the head, you won’t be at risk for ingesting snake venom. However, it’s best to stay away from the venomous species (cottonmouths, copperheads, coral snakes, and rattlesnakes, in the U.S.), because of the risks of getting bit while trying to hunt them.

If you’re a reptile-lover, you may find it difficult to kill a snake that looks like one you’ve had as a pet. Many pet snakes aren’t native to the U.S., and you won’t encounter them in the wild, but if you keep snakes at home, think about whether you’d be willing to hunt an animal that slithers around like your beloved pet!

Turtles:

Turtles are some of the easiest reptiles to hunt because they’re so slow-moving and can’t easily dart away from you like a lizard. Certain species of turtles, notably box turtles, subsist on diets of mushrooms, which may include fungi that are poisonous to humans. When you eat the turtle, you also are ingesting whatever they’ve eaten, which could be harmful to your health.

One of the most common turtles you’ll find in North America that you can safely eat is the snapping turtle. The risks come with catching it — be sure to handle from behind the neck and the tail, where your hands will be out of reach of its sharp teeth.

Which Reptiles Should You Not Hunt?

Crocodiles and alligators:

In some parts of the country, alligator meat is considered a delicacy and even a superfood, with its high protein content and relatively low fat. However, this doesn’t mean you should attempt to hunt down one of these beasts in the wild for your dinner.

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