Sunday, January 31, 2010

Processing wild rabbit for food can be very diseasy!

Roa - Rabbit - from Prescription Art

While researching for info on identifying and processing rabbit carcasses I came across important info about disease risks. I discovered that rabbits can carry the bubonic plague virus which can be easily transferred to humans through contact with the carcass and through fleas living in the animals fur. Rabbits can also transfer Tularemia (Francisella tularensis) through spores on the fur and through eating the meat (look for spots on the liver). Both of these can be deadly and even though we have treatments for each condition these may well be unavailable during the age of warlords.

While I have been unsuccessful in finding a useful guide to carcass identification I did find a great guide to safe processing of rabbit carcasses. The Cooking Inn has a great guide to dressing procedures for handling farmed and wild rabbit carcasses that shows what to look for in a properly dressed rabbit. Unfortunately a properly dressed rabbit has had its head, tail, and front and rear fore-legs removed leaving no obvious features clearly identifying it as a rabbit carcass.
The right leg is left in tact when preparing the carcass for skinning as it is the best point to attach a hanging hook. Given that it is advised that rabbit hunters process their catch in the field while it is still warm leaving the pelt on the rabbit I would ask that the right leg be left on the animal for identification. A cats paw is very easy to spot!

Here is a link to an event I would have loved to have attended. Rabbit Discovered was an event celebrating slow food with wild rabbit as the centre piece of the meal. People attending were given a demonstration of how to safely prepare and portion a wild rabbit carcass with opportunities to have a go at processing the carcass themselves.
From what I've been able to gather wild rabbits can now be sold un-eviscerated (un-gutted) allowing the purchaser to identify any issues with the liver revealing Tularemia.

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