Thursday, 26 July 2012

Taxidermy Suppliers in the UK

Even though the taxidermy industry in the UK might seem dwarfed by it's American counterpart, we are thankfully not at a loss when it comes to suppliers. There are four suppliers that I am currently aware of, and use regularly. This blog post will deal with them, including my own personal experiences.

JHT Supplies, South Wales -

Search for any taxidermy supply on Ebay and you will inevitably find JHT supplies within seconds. They are the largest taxidermy supplier in the UK, as it seems. They stock a large variety of forms, eyes, chemicals, tools and bases for the amateur and expert taxidermist. Also available through them is a yearly subscription to the US' premier taxidermy magazine Breakthrough, as well as individual issues. I have used JHT for 3-4 years now, and they never fail to impress.

They do have a paper based catalogue which is full of wonderful things for the taxidermist. It also provides information on measuring your specimen for a form, and also explanations of, and examples of mounts made with the various products. All their products are high quality and their customer service is excellent. I cannot recommend them higher.

They do not have a website, but they do run an ebay store. You can also email them at with orders, catalogue requests (which is free) and for general advice on the products that you need to make your mount look the part.

Snowdonia Taxidermy Supplies, Wales -

Snowdonia Taxidermy Supplies previously stocked a lot more items, including forms. However, JHT have surpassed them in sales in this area through the ebay selling platform. Now, they stock only chemicals and tools for taxidermy and sculpture. Their glass eye products are now over at another website, which is mentioned below.

Despite this, they do have some products worth purchasing. Their chemicals are very good, and I purchase my 'white tan' from them. JHT stock Lutan-F, but I haven't tried that out yet. For now, STS white tan is good for me as it's great value for money, and very efficient. Their 'supa-soft oil' is also excellent for pelts. They also stock instructional DVDs, skull bleach, needles and knives and other useful tools.

All chemicals come with FULL instruction sheets and F.A.Q.s.

I have also had a good experience with STS and I would recommend them to everyone for their low cost, high quality chemicals and tools. -

Sister site and side-business of STS, have a massive (and I mean massive!) selection of glass eyes for taxidermy, doll making and other similar products. Expect the same service and quality as STS, and they can help you out with any enquires you have if you email them.

Watkins & Doncaster -

Primarily a store for naturalists, but they do stock some taxidermy items. Their prices are a little higher than STS and JHT, but they do sell a fox rug head that the other two do not, as well as many quirky and interesting things. Also they have earliners that are not lead, like JHT.

Worth a look, even if just to order their catalogue.

Well, I hope that helps some of you budding taxidermists in the UK! Feel free to email me at with anything, any time!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tanning with White Tan

Recently I have set up a little tanning system in my apartment, and have been processing some skins. In looking through my freezer, I found 5 stoat skins and 3 guinea pigs to work with.

European stoat pelt, tanned and taxidermy-ready
The stoat pelts were already ready for tanning as they were purchased from a lady in Scotland already skinned. I skipped the salting step as they had been soaked in methylated spirits prior to freezing. They turned out pretty nice, though I had to degrease them a fair few times!

The guinea pigs were processed from raw frozen and so I will explain how I process my skins here:

- Firstly the animal is defrosted, I usually spray them with 'stop slip', or soak them in methylated spirits.

- The animal is then skinned. The way in which it is skinned depends on the way it is to be mounted. Usually I skin my specimens with a 'ventral incision', this is a cut that goes from the genital area, or just above, to the mid chest or under the chin.

Winter version of the above

- After skinning, the animal is fleshed. This is the process of removing all fat, meat and membrane from the skin. This is to ensure that the salt and the tan penetrates the skin layers. Tanning solution will not work properly through fat tissue. In the fleshing process, the lips and ears are split and the nose cartilage and eyes are thinned.

- Next the pelt is salted. This is the process of rubbing salt into the skin to ensure that all fat molecules and moisture are pulled out of the skin. The tanning solution will replace that 'space' in the skin layers. The pelt is rubbed all over on the skin side with salt, and then placed on a tilted mesh to drain. 24 hours later, the wet salt is shaken off and the pelt is re-salted and then hung or placed to dry.

- 24-48 hours after this, the pelt is degreased. To do this, I soak it in a bucket of fairy washing up liquid and cold water for half an hour. This helps to draw out the grease in the skin. I then rinse the skin in the sink and make sure all suds are washed out.

Domestic guinea pig pelt
- Next is the tanning step. I use Snowdonia Supplies white tan for small animals up to a fox, and also capes. I have a large bucket which has my tanning solution in it. The same tan keeps for a while, so this is very convenient to me. I put the skin in the tan and make sure to stir it once or twice a day.

- I leave the pelt in for a week (though they take less than this, I leave them in longer to ensure that all parts of the pelt are penetrated with the tan). After this, I remove the skin, degrease it again, rinse it and hang it to dry. If the skin is to be mounted straight away, I freeze it in a plastic bag at this point.

- Once the skin is dried hard, I apply warm Snowdonia Supplies supa-soft oil to the pelt, allow it to soak in overnight, and then stretch the skin the next day. If the pelt needs degreasing again, I then do that.

- Then the skin is left to dry, stretching it several times a day until dry and soft.

A red fox vixen pelt that I currently have in my tanning bucket. 
And that is how I process my small animal skins!

I would also like to add that all guinea pigs were purchased frozen from and were not killed for the purpose of taxidermy.

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Hey everyone! Sorry it's been so long since I've updated my blog. I moved to an apartment and have been unable to get online a lot of the time. Taxidermy will be resuming very soon. I have some pelts in the tan as we speak, stoats and guinea pigs. I'll upload photos if they come out okay :)

Anyways expect new updates from me soon!