Taxidermy supplies and tips > Squirrel taxidermy > Mount squirrel

Mount squirrel

Now, in beginning work upon the small mammal specimen, make outline studies of it in same way the bird specimen was handled, i.e., both before and after skinning. When the preliminary surface sketches are completed, replace the wrapping paper used for the purpose, with newspaper, cornmeal at hand, and proceed with the skinning.

The mounting process

The first step in mounting is properly to wire the skull and leg bones. (For details of this see Fig. 16.)

Fig. 16.

For the body-wire select a size larger than for the legs, cutting it twice as long as head, neck, and body. For legs choose a size wire that will firmly support the specimen in position without wobbling. If the mammal is to sit erect, the hind leg-wires must be considerably larger than otherwise and foreleg-wires may be much lighter. (Making the pelvis loop maybe easily followed in diagram in Fig. 17.)

The first body-wire loop is Vent to set into the brain cavity. Then the foreleg loop is made some little distance back of actual shoulder point (in fox-squirrel about an inch and a half or two inches). Get distance from skull to hip joint from body sketch and follow this sketch for dimensions in bending wire pelvis
into shape. The tail loop is last to be made.

As Fig. 16 shows, the leg-wires are wrapped tightly upon the back of the bones with thread or light cord, leaving shorter end of wire passing from sole of foot. At shoulder joint turn wire back sharply and at hip ball turn wire in at right angles. In palms and soles of feet turn wire down at right angles.

When the bone wiring is completed take up again the body sketches. Bring out a quantity of fine excelsior for replacing the leg muscles
and skull meat and for filling the body after assembling the wired parts within the skin.

In wrapping on the artificial leg muscles begin at the feet. Follow the outline sketches and with thread and small cord wrap small,
properly proportioned masses, squeezed firm in the hand or finger tips, upon the bones, copying nature's outline and form accurately.

Wrap the foreleg to the shoulders. Complete the hind leg to the knee and above this point wrap on only the muscles on top of the
thigh bone, leaving back of thigh to be filled with loose material when the skin is adjusted.

The tail may be made of cotton, wrapped tightly and smoothly upon the wire, wisp by wisp. Begin at tip and work down, spinning the wire with right hand to produce uniformity of shape. If mammal is larger than a squirrel the tail may be made of tow, pulled smooth,
laid lengthwise of the wire, and wrapped smoothly down with thread. For size, length, and shape of tail, refer to the sketches.

The head muscles may be replaced in much the same manner as leg muscles. (See Fig. 18 for wrapping complete.) The specimen is now ready to assemble.
Fig. 18.

To accomplish this in systematic order, insert the head into place and next the forelegs. Consult sketch and bend a right angle in fore-
leg-wire back of shoulder at such a point that shoulder will set in proper relation to head. One at a time, using the pliers, twist these foreleg-wire ends, after setting them through shoulder loop, tightly back along the body-wire. Next insert the hind legs into the skin. Slip their wires through hip loops, carry them forward, and tightly twist them around body-wire as in forelegs.

If the tail skin was unopened except at tip the wrapped tail should be put in when the head is placed in the skin. If tail skin was
opened full length, the artificial tail may be placed after all the legs are adjusted. Run tail-wire base forward through its pelvis-wire loop and twist it around body-wire. (For general assembling of specimen see Fig. 19.)

Before filling the body, sew up the tail, using short stitches and a round needle, if it is possible to push it through skin easily. Begin sewing at tip and work toward body. Finish all sewing with a simple knot drawn tight under tip of finger.

Next, with a stuffing rod of appropriate size, place the neck filling, stuffing against palm of left hand hollowed outside the skin at point of filling so that the forming may be felt accu-

Then comes the filling for shoulder blades over forelegs and with it the chest filling. In handling the excelsior, pull out wisps of it from the mass and rub them between the palms so that the fiber is broken up and softened. Fine excelsior (" wood wool ") is the material par excellence for stuffing the bodies of small mam-
mals from size of small chipmunks up. Mice require a softer material, and short chopped, fine tow answers requirements in them. The leg bones of mice may be wrapped with long fiber cotton batting or fine tow.

When the shoulders and chest have been filled firm full, but not to the point of looking stuffed, turn to the hind legs and pelvis. Fill in the back thigh muscles neatly; then cover top of wire pelvis, pushing material well down to base of tail. Fill rump sufficiently to overcome a pinched or too high set look. The position must be considered in properly filling the back, sides, and abdomen. If a bunched up position is to be worked out, bend the wire back bone
into semipose and place the legs in approximately their final position. After this, fill the body to suit the position, always forming with the stuffing rod working against the left hand.
See that all filling is firm but not packed in to the point of distorting the skin. Consult sketches and aim to preserve the little animal's natural form. (For general filling details see
Fig. 20)

When the filling is all placed, sew the abdominal incision neatly up, beginning at rear end always and going forward. Wax the thread.
In a hunched together position, middling long stitches may be used. In a straighter pose shorter stitches should be used.

Now, when the body is sewn up cover the specimen with paper and a damp cloth to prevent drying while a small batch of compo. No. II is prepared for finishing feet and head. Returning to the specimen with this, slightly moisten the wrapping on the bones of the feet and apply a bit of the compo. at front and in the sole of each foot. This cements the toes to the foot and fills the pads.

After this is done sew each foot up neatly, beginning at toes and working toward body. If toes were large and required splitting and removing of toe cords, replace the cords with bits of small rope or soft twine and sew toes up neatly with short stitches. It is best to use a round needle and black thread, well waxed for
this work.

The specimen is now ready to place upon its base, perch, or stand. With the approximate position shaped, mark the perch for wire holes
by holding specimen over it and indicating places where wires come, by scratch or pencil mark. When holes are drilled and the specimen wired into place, take a strong fur needle set into a handle and by working and compressing with the fingers and jab-lifting with the
needle, finish shaping and positioning.

Hold in hollow of flanks by sewing through here with long needle and strong cord, heavily knotted for the first hold. Finish this sewing
with a knot drawn down into the fur under the thumb. Arrange the fur over all stitches by picking it free with tweezers.

With the body finished, take up filling and finishing the head with the compo. First work compo. into the ears and pinch them out thin
and into their natural shape, then cover the en tire face under the skin with compo. Fill eye sockets and set eyes as second step. Lastly fill the nose and lips and model them firmly upon
the jaws. In all mammals cover the teeth well with the lips. Even in a muskrat the teeth do not ordinarily show at all. Also avoid getting the lips, nose, and whisker base too full. Set the tail into easy normal position, pin toes to grasp the perch or set well upon the ground and inspect the body to see that no hollow or
bumps remain in the filling where there should be perfect smoothness. Remove such of these as persist with the handle-held fur needle and then set the specimen in a well ventilated place to dry.

The principal point in preparing thin orstretchy small mammal skins for mounting is to leave the membrane of skin-muscles on the
body skin. This holds a flabby skin in shape and lends strength to a frail one. In spite of this the legs of most wild rabbits must be
handled very gingerly, as they have no lining membrane like the body. For finishing mouth, nose, and eyelids of mounted mammals, melt a little refined beeswax in a metal vessel. While the wax is hot (don't allow it to smoke), stir in a little tube oil color (black or brown for most mammals; color to nature for birds with
highly tinted eyelids). Mix the wax and color thoroughly with a flat bristle brush. Afterward the brush may be easily cleaned of the
wax by breaking it up with alcohol, when it has cooled.

Next draw some wisps of fine, long-fiber cotton through the melted wax and lay them quickly flat upon oiled paper to cool. For lips of mammals cut narrow strips of the wax. Heat an upholstering spindle and with it repeatedly heated, melt the wax and cotton into crease of closed lips. Melt thin, flat pieces of the wax into depth of nostrils and very narrow strips in eyelids.

When all the wax is placed, model it into shape with a smooth, wedge-ended bit of pine wood. To clean out wax that ran into the hair
by melting, apply alcohol with a bit of cloth, scratch the waxy hair loose with finger nail and rub the crumbled wax out with the bit of alcohol dampened cloth. This leaves lips, eyelids, and nostrils neatly finished. Apply thin varnish to nose, edge of eyelids, and bare parts of lips that show. For mounting a mammal with open mouth, follow same note given in making a whole head for rug.

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