|European stoat pelt, tanned and taxidermy-ready|
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|
- 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|
- 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.|
I would also like to add that all guinea pigs were purchased frozen from http://www.frozenreptile.co.uk and were not killed for the purpose of taxidermy.