HELP need some advice on weither to take on a gator job open mouth 7'3' Coustomer wants full body mount. I have never done any reptiles before just birds and mammals mostly.My question is should i send him to somebody else or take the challenge myself?Any advice would be appreciated i hate to turn away work but this one may be a exception.
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The heads with skull are left in when tanning and throughout the process. Then buy a good form. They are not that hard, think of a big fish. If you do warm water fish it will come easy to you. finishing and repairs and then painting them nice are all more time consuming than the actual mounting. TIME consuming is key thinking here. Charge what the big shops do or LOSE MONEY big time.
Its not quite that easy. The head and upper vand lower pallets, have to be thouroughly cleaned. On a gator that size in involves, sledge hammer, sawzall, chisel, and good wire snips. You are going to remove all bone except lower jaw, upper jaw, and skeletal support structure. All else comes out. Thsi is the biggest and most time consuming of all. It usually takes me about 4 hours to clean out the head completely. Another couple of hours to flesh the beast. Yopu cannot get a commercial form for a gator that size, so either use the pack method( advised) or carcass cast or carve your own body. The best preserrvation method is to soak him in a saftee-acid pickle from Rittels for a week or so then neutralize. At this point you can either rinse and use Borax, or add the tanning soolution, but might get a degree of color change and loss. The toes have to be skinned to the last joint, and there is little if any stretch to the skin once pickled, so make sure your form or whatever method you are using is as close to EXACT as possible. It would be a good ides to cast the mouth interior with plaster or latex, and make your own mouth cast for doing an open mounth. If it is to be a closed mouht, then dont sweat it. If you are deciding to send it to a commercial tannery instead, be ready for lots of epidermal rebuilding as tanning with the head on beats the hell out of the hide and upper bory scutes. All in all the mount should take you the beetr part of a day to clean and flesh, and another day to mount once ready to apply skin. At about 7-8 feet. charge what it is worth. It is a huge job doing gators, and a gator in that size range should get you about 250.00 to 300.00 per foot. As for tanneries, shop around. Most do not do head on tanning. I would suggest doing it yourself. Borax is fine to use on a gator that size, as long as you pickle it good first
if Jonas or Boyce or Woodbury's use Rittles or borax or the pack method? Somehow I doubt it. Whatever.
They probably used arsenic in the old days, do they still use it today? New methods evolve every day that better the old ones. The only rweason I went itno detailks about the mount is to let the guy know there is much more to it than you made it sound.
An open mouth alligator full body mount is no job for a beginner who has never done a reptile before. And to the advice of of Been There, alligators, and for that reptiles in general, are not like fish. They are a whole different ballgame.
I have mounted crocs over 16 feet and alligators and I gave good advise and I feel encouragement to Ed. Sure its a big job and challenge; so? He can do it and do a good job if he is an experenced taxidermist that does fish and can and is used to getting warm water fish ready to paint and painting them. Ed get lots of reference, send it to a tanner like New Method in So. San Francisco buy the closest form you can and just alter it. Make sure you charge top dollar because time on it will eat you up. You can email me direct if you wish for other advise or help with it as you feel the need. No problem. firstname.lastname@example.org