I have been trying to tan squirrel hides for small "rugs" or whatever they would be called (not for mounting, just for preserving) using Rittel's EZ 100. However, twice now the hides have come out with a strangely discolored skin and as hard as wood. I was able to work one of them softer but not too soft. I pickled and tanned for less time each time compared to each other and the deer I tan. (Also, I used the oil afterward as instructed too.) Even with less time in the tan, they still come out harder than I can work with. What is a good system to tanning these small skins with EZ Tan?
Hope I included enough info. for someone who uses this tan to work with...
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"I pickled and tanned for less time each time compared to each other and the deer I tan"
Are you saying that you pickled and tanned them for less time than you normally do deer? If I'm not mistaken, the skins should be left in the pickle and tan for the same amount of time regardless of their size. A skin should stay in the pickle atleast three days, and stay in the tan NO LONGER than 24 hours. Did you follow these directions? Did you neutralize?
I've tanned many squirrel skins with EZtan and never had any of these problems. I do as follows:
Flesh and salt,
Let dry hard,
Pickle w/Safetee acid for atleast 3 days,
Tan for 18-24 hours,
Dry & work soft
Doing any of the steps wrong or skipping will most likely result in a problem. For more details, check out my website - www.AmysTaxidermy.com - and click on "How To Tan". It's all about tanning with EZtan.
Hope this helps,
First thought: are you shooting the squirrels? If so maybe a shotgun pellet or other bullet is embedded in their skin. EZ100 will react with metal and turn the skins somewhere between pink and purple. For some reason it doesn't react much to NAFA pelt staples though. Make sure you use no metal in your pickle, neutralizer, or tan, and that your squirrel rugs don't have free bullets contained in them, and you should be ok.
Squirrels when unprime are quite nasty in the break dept. I tanned a summer skin and it took me a LONG time to get that thing pliable enough to want to sell instead of chuck out the window. So, are you trying to tan prime skins?
What tanning oil? : Rittel's has an unadvertised (well, not advertised like it should be!) tanning oil which is MUCH better than ProPlus. It's called SuperSoft Oil. Try that instead. It will get the fur all greasy from it's penetrating power but it's good stuff!
Deer are a poor benchmark. You don't pickle a squirrel as long, flesh them as hard, or dry them for 3 days in the salting stage. Best compare a squirrel to a muskrat or rabbit.
Last thing I can think of, is are you rinsing your little squirrely rugs after you tan them? Sometimes my pelts come out very stiff but after about 10 days, if I wash them off, they come out great. I think it's something to do with the salt and excess goo in the hide that comes out in the washing. No clue, but the wash works.
Try that, see if it works.
If all fails, switch to a good chrome tan and you'll have squirrel rugs that outlast their owners.