Cornish pasty company Cornish Food Box, based in Truro, Cornwall, believe squirrels’ diets of nuts and berries and exercise from scampering up trees makes them far more tasty and healthy compared to beef, chicken and pork.

Lucy Jones, co-owner of Cornish Food Box said: “Some people think they’re cute but if you’re willing to eat lamb then why not squirrel?

“At a time when people are looking closely at food miles and ethics, grey squirrel is the ultimate in environmentally sustainable meat.

“It’s very local and it’s very free-range.”

Jones, who runs the food business with her sister, says it was all down to a customer’s request and that responses have been positive.

She said: “We just sell local food – food from Cornwall – and a customer asked us whether we could get grey squirrel meat, so we spoke to our game supplier, and he said it would be no problem.

“The customer who asked for the meat wanted to make grey squirrel pasties. And so we sold the squirrel meat and she made the pasties.”

But opinions on the Twittersphere were more varied, with @TheFoodPRAgency saying “Eating squirrels? Bleurgh!”

@johnestevens tweeted: “Eugh… company starts making pasties filled with SQUIRREL! – ashamed to be Cornish!”

But @Benjkenyon tweeted after eating one, saying it was “nice”.

Cornish Food Box has announced a ready-to-cook squirrel to feed a family of four, which will cost a reasonable £2.95.

Grey squirrels have been in the UK over the last two centuries and are now believed to outnumber the UK’s native red squirrel by around 70 to 1.