I would like to know how to mount a squirrel.
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Nick, welcome to the wonderful world of tree rat taxidermy!
Mounting a squirrel is not difficult at all, but you should know a few things before starting. First, you want to make a few measurements of your specimen. Measure from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail, and the circumference of the belly at the widest point. Choose a mannikin that is closest to these measurements, the smaller the better. I've found the best mannikins for squirrels are Flynn's squirrel forms and Ellzey's. Joe Coombs Classics sells the ones sculpted by Flynn. WASCO, McKenzie, and many other supply companies carry Ellzy's.
For glass eyes i would use the Tohickon Black Hollow Bubble eyes. To get the black hollow bubble eyes to set right, dremel out the eyesocket in the form until the proper fit is achiever, check your reference while doing this.
Now, the way you skin your squirrel will depend on the pose. If the mannikin tha you have chosen is a climbing one, use a Ventral incision. That is a cut from the squirrels chest to the anus. make sure while skinning, always cut the skin open from underneath so that you do not cut the hair. If youve picked a squirrel mannikin in a standing or walking pose, make a Dorsal Incision. The Dorsal incision is a cut from the squirrel's shoulders on the back to the base of the tail. Again, always make an incision by cutting the skin from underneath. When you reach the tail, take an old fashon clothespin (not the clippy kind) and slide it up the tailbone. The tailskin will pull off easily. Skin the feet completely to the toes, cutting carefully as you get closer to the toes. Be careful while skinning out the face, as ear and eye skin is easily cut and isnt very easy to repair. Take your time while skinning!
Once your squirrel is skinned, the hide needs to be fleshed. a sharp knife and a small pair of sicissors is great for this. place the hide on a fleshing beam and scrape the flesh off the skin from tail to head. Do Not apply too much pressure, as the hide may be cut easily. Be careful,especially around the thin facial features. Split the lips and nose. This means take a sharp knife or scalpel and cut the thick lip membrane in half. Doint this will allow better penetration of the preservative or tn, and eliminate shrinkage. Use a small sicissors to trim meat away from the whisker roots. Use cautious not to cut the wisker bulbs and make them fall out. trim any remaining cartlige from th nosepad.
Now, you must wash the skin to remove blood, grease and dirt from the hair and skin. Fill a bucket with COLD tap water. add a few squirts of Dawn dishwashing detergent to the water. place the squirrel skin in it and dunk it up and down several times until the water becomes dirty. do this several times, each time with new water until it becomes clearer and clearer each time. Be sure to rinse all soap from the fur or it will not fluff out naturally.
At this point you can freeze the skin and tan and mount at a later time, or go into tanning and mounting. You must decide what you want to use to preserve the skin. Borax works well, but causes alot of shrinkage. It is best to tan any mammal before mounting. I reccommend that you order a small game tanning kit from Rittles or WASCO. they work great and make nice skins for mounting. A Saftee Acid pickle and Liqua Tan works great too.
After tanning the skin, tumble it in sawdust for about 10 minutes. This will fluff the hair and prepair it for mounting. if a tumbler is not available, a heavy duty trash bag filled with sawdust being shaken will suffice, as will a pillowcase filled with sawdustm tied and put in a dryer at a no heat setting (be sure the wife or mom does not find out you did this).
Now your ready to mount the squirrel! Prepare the mannikin by sanding it with a coarse sandpaper. Set the gless eyes in a hardening clay, such as Critter Clay. the feet sculpted on the forms will need thinned down with a sanding bit in a dremel. thin down and add a little bit of clay to them to rebuild the foot pad. On climbing mounts, I dremel out a small section of belly and anchor a wood block in the form with hot glue or bondo. The squirrel is easily attached to a base with a screw then. For sitting mounts and standing mounts, drill a small hole in each leg, and glue a wire in them, this will serve to anchor the squirrel to a limb or panel. Cut some slots in the armpit, and legs of the form for tucking extra skin. After all form prep work is done, coat the form with a liberal coat of good hidepaste. Pull the skin over the mannikin and Proceed to mount.
First, pull the seam togather. Check fur pattern alignment. tuck any extra skin into the slots you have cut. Cut a small groove in the lips and tuck them, starting with the bottom lip first. use pins wherever necessary to hold the skin in place. Sew up the incision. I prefer to use a monofilament fishing line, because its clear and rarely breaks on me. Sew from tail to head. Brush hair out of the stitch before it is pulled taught. After the incision is closed, begin work on the face. Use good reference pictures and work the skin around the eyes, use pins to hold it if necessary. pin the lip skin to hold it also. Shape the feet to the proper form. When you are satisfied with your specimen, set it aside to dry for two to three weeks, depending on your climate and humidity.
After the mount is completely dry, remove all pins, and do finish work. Touch up the skin on the nose pad and eyelids. with a little bit of brown shoe polish. brush the hair to your liking. a tip i found in flufing squirrel tail and hairis to use a hairdryer set on high, and go against the hair. It will fluff everytime.
Make sure to use reference while mounting squirrels or anything for that matter. DOnt be discouraged if your first mount dont turn out good. Only through lots of practice will you get good at this great art. Have fun! I hope i explained this good enough for you to understand.
Way to go Adam! Good response to a question from an obvious beginner.
We could all take the time just once in a while to answer a question like that,
these forums would be a better place.
Impressed with the time you took to write out help on mounting a squirrel. Thanks. Want to add that Breakthrough manual on mammals has great step by step pictures too.
I copied and pasted and printed your notes Adam. Kudo's to your sharing of knowledge. :-)
I applaud you on your answer for all the help you have given. But as I was reading it
I was hoping to see how to do the ears. I am mostly a fish taxidermist but I have mounted
a few squirrels. I have the video From WASCO and they split the ears.
I have a very hard time splitting a squirrels ears without trashing them.
If you could tell me what you do for the ears I would appreciate the input.
No need to turn the ears on them little rats! simply mount the animal as usual. The ears of squirrels and smaller animals need not be skinned. If while drying, the ears begin to curl, simply straighten them out. Do this until the mount completely dries. Another method that can be used is the "Carding" method. It is much like they use on fish fins. Get the fin backing kit from WASCO, or use cardboard. Cut the carding material to the shape of the ear, and Use a small paperclip to hold the two pieces togather. insert a pin in the butt of the ear to hold it erect and keep from falling down. When the mount is dry, simply remove the fin backing material and do any finish work.
you might want to skip the step of turning the ears until you become familiar with the rest of the mounting process but to do it right the ears should be turned. There was a post not to long ago pertaining to this ear subject. I believe Frank gave a pretty good response.
And yes Adam, that was a pretty good summation of the whole process.
You obviously are a "WORLD CLASS" treerat taxidermist?!! LOL!
And great job by the way kid! Keep it up.
On little bitty ears I use clear wax to set them in place. I do turn the very base so I can place ear base to form a butt for the ears. Once the cartilege dries the tips stay where you want them. I envy anyone with the expertise to split the little ones.
Adam ,that explanation sounds like you need to write and publish a tree rat taxidermy manualyou should contact the closest catalog to your area and see if they could put you on their payroll.if not -THEIR LOSS !great work!
Did I REALLY write that good of a tree rat article?! I cant believe how manty comments I've recieved on this post. Thanks Guys and Girls!
Hummmmmm.......how about The Breakthrough Rodent Taxidermy Manual LOL!! Hey...who knows!