I have received conflicting advice regarding precautions that should
be taken in skinning dead animals, especially skunks. On the one
hand I have been advised to always wear latex gloves, but I have
also been told that this is unnecessary. What do most do?
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The ones that told you to wear the gloves was right and
use a respirator too. You can't be too careful, but you can be too
reckless so use them both.
The one who told you gloves were "unnecessary" is the fool if you haven't already guessed. Your hands should be protected on EVERY ANIMAL OR BIRD OR FISH YOU WORK ON. Would you want to be operated on by a doctor who didn't glove up? Well, a doctor does that for two reasons. The first of course is for your safety and peace of mind, but to the DOCTOR, it's done for HIS peace of mind. I glove up for every animal as minor nicks and cuts can be an open door to spoiled meat or tainted blood. I double glove up on skunks, raccoons and the canids and cats. If I tear a glove, I wash my hands with a good soap and reglove. That way when you lick the jelly off your PB&J sandwich, you won't retch over the gut smell of a skinned beaver you just did.
Devin, For a long time I wore no gloves or rarely. Gradually I got into wearing them more often but still not always. Then I cut my finger SLIGHTLY on a hog's tooth, just a stinging little razor cut- nothing to worry about. Next day with red swolen finger I tried to work but my "minor cut" became quite a handicap by the end of the day. 2nd day found me at the doctor's office where he told me I had a serious infection cellulitous which left untreated has a way of migrating up your arm even becoming a threat to life in extream cases. Heavy antibiotics fixed me but the expense and loss of work would have kept me in gloves for years. Absolutly wear gloves EVERY time you skin or handle dead critters, words to the wise, Aaron H.
Glove up! Nitrile and Latex are both cheap, easy, and plentiful.
I purchased a case of 1000 nitrile gloves that have withstood everything nasty I can manage to get stuck elbow deep in. Cost? $55.00. Countless scratches, nicks, cuts (razor, knife, nail, etc), chemical burns, and bacterial episodes have been avoided. Not to mention the peace of mind that gloves bestow: you know you're not touching all that icky stuff.
Look at it this way. 1000 gloves which is enough for at least 500 skinning sessions cost $55.
One course of antibiotics for 14 days costs [hourly wages or salary per day x 14 days] + [cost of antibiotics] + [cost of 2-3 days lost labor / wages preceding your doctor's appointment because you feel like sh*t] + [cost of doctor visit].
Would you rather lose 17 days of your life to illness, or spend 55 bucks one time?