Taxidermy supplies and tips > Squirrel taxidermy > Skinning squirrel

Skinning squirrel

Have scalpel or skinning-knife well sharpened.

The skinning process

Lay head of specimen toward right. Part fur over center of breast bone, insert point of knife. just under skin, forcing backward, and with as near one clean stroke as possible open the skin neatly along center of abdomen. Do not cut the abdominal wall. Carry belly incision to close to the vent. In male specimen run the incision to one side of the
testes. Next insert point of knife in fore center of pad or feet and paws and with a gentle push carry these incisions upon back of wrists and inside of ankles to where swell of large muscles is felt.

In mammals the size of woodchuck or raccoon, split toes on under side.

If a mammal skin is to be kept for some time, dried or in brine, split the tail full length along under side. If tail skin slips easily and the specimen is to be mounted at once, pull the tail
out, splitting only the very tip to allow solution to be run through. In many species the tail must be split and. peeled out with a knife because of tough binding. (For general
diagram of incisions, see Fig. 1)

The next step in handily skinning a mammal is to peel out the feet through their incisions, severing toes at base and leaving them com-
plete in the skin. Peel the leg skins back over ankles and wrists (see Fig. 2)

If tail was split, peel it down next, beginning at tip. Now return to the abdominal incision and neatly peel the skin from the body, in many instances using only the thumb nail for loosening it.
When the thighs are encountered, bend hind legs back and sever hip joints from pelvis (see Fig. 13), cutting carefully through the large muscles so that the skin on opposite side of them may not be punctured.

When the hind legs are cut free, peel around back of pelvis, loosening skin to base of tail. Set the specimen upon its head end and, with thumb and finger nails of left hand, grasp skin about the base of tail while with right hand strip tail out with force.

Next peel the body down to shoulders. Hang large specimen up by cord tied about loins, the more handily to finish the skinning.

Sever the forelegs at shoulder joint (see Fig. 14), using care not to cut through skin.

Peel skin down over neck to ears. Cut ears free from head, working with knife close to skull. Peel to eyes. In cutting the eyelids free, work close to eyeballs so that lids are not injured. Peel to mouth and cut close to jaw bones in severing lips and nose from skull (see Fig. 15).

With the skin removed from the body, next peel out the legs.

Split inside of lips free with sharp knife, Fig. 15. very carefully, so as not to break edge of them.

With scissors shear out all mouth and nose meat, being careful not to cut off the whisker pockets, which are usually very prominent when the side nose muscles are partly sheared off.

Skin out the backs of the ears clear to edges by pressing a finger tip inside the ear and peeling over this with finger nail or other dull instrument. With scissors shear off meat of butt of ear and whatever meat and fat adheres to rest of skin.

In sketches of skinned body mark points of shoulder joint and hip joint and note width of pelvis at hip joints.

Remove the skull from the carcass and clean it by cutting and scraping away all meat, pulling out the eyeballs, and scooping out the brain.

For the purpose of mounting, the base of the skull may be cut off to facilitate cleaning, but for study (cabinet) skins the skull must be
kept intact and always accompany by number the skin it was removed from.

Trim all meat from the leg bones and poison these and the skull when finishing preparation of the skin.

Preventing decay

Add a few drops of carbolic acid, well stirred in to the solution used upon skins of small mammals for mounting. This aids in preventing decay and slipping of the epidermis.

Apply the poison solution thoroughly with a brush, to all inner surfaces of the skin and to the toes. If tail was split only at the tip, run a few drops of solution through it.

Turn the poisoned skin right side out, lay it flat, side pressed to side, roll up, place in paper, and cover with a damp cloth. Lay in this way over one night, giving the solution a chance to penetrate through to roots of hair before mounting. If a specimen is bloody or mussed the blood may be cleaned off before skinning by wetting the spots with alcohol and rubbing the blood and juices out with cornmeal.

We move on the next stage, the mounting of the squirrel