How To Preserve A Squirrel Tail?All Steps You Need To Know
Taxidermy-the art of skinning a hunted or dead animal, treating and stuffing its fleece, and finally mounting the same for display (which makes the display look as if it’ll pounce on you)-has almost become passed.
There are good reasons for taxidermy having gone out of fashion. The entire task of fleecing out the hide from the carcass (without rupturing the skin surface), and using preservatives/ chemicals on the hide before mounting the skin on a dummy can be an extremely backbreaking job.
It might take years of practicing before you call yourself an accomplished taxidermist. However, before you can hone the taxidermy skills, you’ll need to hunt down animals regularly or find a source who can supply you with hides or skins.
With strict animal protection laws in place throughout the world, shooting down animals in the wild is illegal nowadays and hunting, therefore, is fast becoming a luxury only a few can afford.
Nevertheless, it is perfectly licit to collect paws, limbs, and tails of dead animals and preserve the same for the purpose of making knick-knacks like hooded ornaments, necklaces, and amulets or other trinkets.
For instance, you can always separate the tail (with the hide intact) from the skin of a rodent (like a raccoon or squirrel) and make it go through some elementary treatment techniques in order to preserve it as a trophy.
In the following paragraphs, step wise instructions on how to preserve a squirrel tail have been outlined.
Preserving The Squirrel Tail In A Nutshell
The first thing that you’d obviously need to do is to separate or pull out the tail from the squirrel after skinning the rodent.
Trying to peel the skin along with the felt or fur carefully, starting the procedure from tailbone in a manner that the top end of the coccyx (tailbone) becomes visible.
Now, invert the tail and place it on a table or on any flattened surface, and grip the tailbone using pliers.
Next, get hold of a good quality knife and slice through the skin without loosening your grip on the pliers.
Nevertheless, before you get started with the procedure, ensure that you’re facing the tail’s backside or else all your efforts will be in vain.
It is highly recommended that you conduct the whole process outside your home not only to keep critters out but also to avoid children getting inquisitive.
You only need to slice down the knife up to a certain extent so that you can pull out the tailbone conveniently.
So, now you’re left with the skin of the tail minus the bone. Sprinkle common salt all over the exposed part of the skin, going down to its shaft.
Table salt acts as a hygro scopic or desiccant compound soaking up the moisture and thereby arresting decay.
Thereafter, place the tail on an elevated platform (like on the top a cupboard or showcase) very cautiously so that the salt doesn’t fall off.
Ensure that the place is thoroughly dry and out of the reach of pets or kids. Lay the tail in a flat position, the flatter you place it the faster will it dry.
It’ll take about a week at the most for the tail to dry up completely and once you take it down from its perched mooring, you’ll see that the salt has turned into solid lumps.
Take your time to clear the lumps (of salt) from the skin and the hide. Your tail is now ready for hanging up on the mantelpiece of your bookcase or from the wall.
Section 3: Step By Step Instructions
Sourcing The Tail
Though it doesn’t need to be mentioned, the first step on how to preserve a squirrel tail is to source the tail.
In this regard, you can get hold of a small or large game’s paws or feet as well as these body parts can also be preserved and ornamented.
There are different ways of collecting your specimen. Of course, the best way of doing so would be to go on a safari and hunt down some small games including squirrels.
However, hunting calls for having extraordinary skills that the vast majority doesn’t possess and then everybody is not comfortable with the sport either.
Animals mowed down by vehicles on highways and killed in road accidents can be a good source as far as procuring samples are concerned.
But some states in the US make it mandatory for you to possess a trapping permit or license in order to buy road kill.
A Container For Housing The Sample
Your next step is to make arrangements for placing or housing the sample in a container.
The container should be spacious or roomy enough to hold and transport the animal sample safely without the sample getting putrefied.
Secondly, make sure that the container will be able to hold salt for about a month and a half.
The Bottom Layer Of The Container Should Be Enveloped With Iodized Salt
Sprinkle iodized salt at the container’s base before you can transfer the sample into it. Just spreading a thin layer will do.
Treat The Sample And Clean It Thoroughly
Be very cautious when extracting the skin off the animal so that the fleshy part beneath remains intact.
The process of removing the skin starts with making a perfect cut just over the anus with a sharp-edged knife and going down approximately an inch down the tailbone.
Always make sure to turn the tail upside down with the tailbone facing you.After separating the skin at the anus, slowly keep slicing till the coccyx comes to view.
Now, get hold of a pair of pliers to firmly grip the tailbone with one hand while you slice the skin further up.
You don’t need to go the whole hog but just cut long enough to extricate the tailbone.
Once the tail is in your hands, rinse it thoroughly first in cold water followed by tepid warm water in which detergent has been dissolved to get rid of blood and critters (bugs, lice etc) respectively.
Let the tail dry up completely.
Lower The Skin In The Container Containing Common And Iodized Salt
Before you lower the washed and dried tail into the container, you’ll have to first lay the hide on an even surface like a tabletop with the fleshy end facing you.
Sprinkle salt all over the surface going up to the point where the tail tapers down. Since salt is available aplenty and cheap, there’s no need for you to be sparing with its use.
Next, lower the skin inside the container and let it soak in salt overnight or for the next 24-hours.
Store or place the container in a cool and dry place. Before doing so, you should hermetically seal the container or make it air-tight so that air can’t escape from the box or carton neither can enter it.
This is necessary to make sure that the salt doesn’t moisten up.You can also use ready made airtight wooden or plastic containers.
Avoid using metallic or iron containers as the compound may corrode the metallic surface. It’ll take about 6-8 weeks for the desiccant or dehydration procedure to be effective.
However, the time period for which you should leave the container intact will largely depend upon the sample’s size or bulk.
In conclusion, it can be said that the entire process of how to preserve a squirrel tail is not a very complicated process although it’s a very protracted one no doubt.
Once you’re through with curing the tail, you’re fully at liberty to ornament or decorate it as you like it.
If you wish to affix the tail to a key chain or a necklace, it’ll be better if you envelop the tail end with a hardening resin or polymer, thereafter sand it thoroughly once it has dried up.
Finally, you’ll just need to carve out a hole via the resin (and the bone).