Beginner with otter skinning and tanning questions

Submitted by Shannon on 12/15/05 at 3:45 AM. ( )

Hello, I'm a total beginner here and have been scowering the forums archives all day looking up information about skinning and tanning otter. I collected a roadkilled river otter yesterday and would like to *attempt* to salvage the pelt, just to see if I can. From what I've read here otters are not the easiest critters to do for a beginner, so I'm hoping I'm not jumping in completely over my head. I know it's just free roadkill, so I'm not going to be too devastated if things don't turn out, but I'd like to at least try for the learning experience.

I have a ton of questions, so I apoligize in advance if any of them are redundant.

I want to come up with an overall gameplan for this and would like some input about the order and type of procedures to carry out. So far I know I should preferably case skin the pelt, flesh it and 'turn' the ears, eyes, mouth, etc. I'm considering ordering some Stop-Rot to give me some more time to work and to combat any 'iffyness' in the hide from this being a roadkill specimen. I think I have a pretty good idea of what has to be done for turning and fleshing, but I'm curious about what the ideal thickness is for the skin. And I assume this ideal thickness may change depending on what part of the body it is. I'm especially curious about properly fleshing out the footpads and such.

Next thing I'd like to know is what the next step in the process should be. Is it imperative that I salt and dry the hide after fleshing? I read that salting helps to prevent hair slippage, so in my case would this be a good idea?

Also, how long can I delay the tanning process from the initial skinning if I salt the skin and/or freeze it before then? Because I'd like to do this in two parts, if I can: skinning first, then tanning later when I'm ready and have all the supplies. Or is it a better idea to do it all at once and keep the pelt as fresh as possible?

Next would probably come rehydration(if salt dried), pickling and tanning, and degreasing at some point(I'm thinking Rittel's Super Solvent for that?). As I'm only doing this one skin for now and I'm a total newbie, I'd like to find an affordable, safe, easy to use tanning process that gives good results. I've read good things about Rittel's EZ-Tan 2000 kit, would this be something a newbie like me could use for this project? I'm not able to download the PDF file from their site so I don't know what all is included in this kit or what directions they give.

Do I have the basic gist of things down or am I missing anything major?


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You are on the right track

This response submitted by Ryan on 12/15/05 at 9:04 AM. ( )

First off, before you go too far with this. How old is the roadkill, and does it appear to be in pretty good condition. Often roadkills will "skid" hair off of the hide. Next, is the animal frozen right now. If it is, I would go ahead and order your tanning kit and keep it frozen until you get your suppplies, just so you don't have to freeze, skin, then refreeze. Once you get your supplies, thaw the specimen, proceed with skinning, turning, and fleshing. At this point only be concerned with getting the meat and fat off of the hide, it's easier to shave during the pickle process. When you do the pads you will see the layer of fat under them, using a small knife remove as much of this as you can without cutting through. Also make sure to remove all of the toe bones, right to where it connects to the claw. It'll be a little hard to figure out until you do 1 or 2, but you'll get it. At this point the hide should be skinned, everything turned, cartiledge removed from septum, and fleshed. Now you are ready to salt the hide. To do this get yourself some non-iodized salt, I use stock salt from the feed store (agway, etc.)or you can get it from one of the suppliers. Lay the hide flesh side up and cover it in a thick layer of salt, you can't use too much. Work the salt into areas like the feet and make sure all exposed flesh is salted ie. lips, eyes, nose, etc. Once you have it salted, fold it up containing the salt and put it on an elevated surface so excess moisture can run out. Leave it for 24 hours, come back and shake excess salt from hide, now you are ready to pickle, degrease and tan. Follow the directions that come with your tan and make sure you degrease, (otters have oilly skin). At some point during the pickle you can take it out and thin the skin down a bit. Good Luck


This response submitted by Shannon on 12/15/05 at 6:17 PM. ( )

Thanks for your help, Ryan. Yes, I brought it home and stuck it in the freezer right away. I would say that the carcass is in pretty good condition, no apparent external injuries besides some scuffing on its chin where it hit the asphalt. As for the freshness, the eyes had dried out but had not become completely pruny yet, they were still keeping most of their shape and just starting to shrink back some. I'm guessing it died sometime early that morning, and I found it around 12 noon. Unfortunately that means it was probably sitting in the sun for a couple hours. When I picked it up parts of the body were warm to the touch from being in the sun. So yes, I am concerned about slippage and whether or not parts of the hide may have gotten a little rank while sitting out there. This is why I'd like to try Stop-Rot on it while I thaw and skin it.

I would definelty

This response submitted by Ryan on 12/16/05 at 9:12 AM. ( )

Do just that, it's a great procuct designed for exactly that type of thing. Good Luck

how do to tan crocodile and ostrich skins?

This response submitted by tran ngoc ha on 12/27/05 at 10:50 PM. ( )

hello, i'm a beginner. I have a knowing leather processing, but it is only cattle hide. I'm looking for some informations about crocodile and ostrich tanning. Please help me!

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