Mounting My First Squirrel

Submitted by Miranda on 11/14/99. ( )

I have wanted to get into taxidermy for some time now. Well, I got a nice squirrel the other day and I decided to mount it. I completely skinned it out, froze the hide, and ordered a small mammal kit from John Rinehart Co. When the kit arrived, the instructions it came with indicated that the skull should be left in. I totally skinned mine out, removing skull and all. I still want to mount this squirrel and was thinking of ordering an actual mannequin, instead of using the kit's mammal fill method. But I can't find anywhere to get any instructions on mounting a squirrel using a form. What do I need (other than the form itself), and how much will this method differ from stuffing the hide with mammal fill? I think I read about using some type of adhesive on the mannequin, but that's all. Could anybody give me some good (fit for a beginner) step-by-step instructions on how to mount the hide on a mannequin correctly? Thanks!

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Call WASCO ...

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/15/99. ( )

Hello Miranda,

You were right in your method of skinning out the squirrel. Unfortunately, the instructions you received from the supplier you contacted are WRONG! WAY WRONG!! the only thing leaving the skull attached does is promote excessive shrinkage, and eventual rotting of the subject. It cannot properly be preserved.

WASCO has beginners lessons, that at least teach you the basics ... the right way. They also have a line of squirrel bodies that I created, that produce very accurate results. In fact, WASCO carries all the supplies you will need.

In their video tape library, they sell a tape of mounting a fox squirrel with Sallie Dahmes as the instructor. it is a very good tape, for sure! Another tape they sell features me, and a whole lot more information on mounting a gray squirrel ... it is very in-depth.

It might do you well to get both tapes, watch Sallies' tape first, and then mine. This way, you can get the good, correct "basics" first. Then you can get into a little more "depth" with my tape.

Sallie's tape shows mounting the fox squirrel over a form sculpted by Mr. Ed Thompson. My tape shows one way of using the squirrel mannikins I developed.

I also did a second tape that was recorded at the World Show, where I used my pet squirrels (while they were still alive) to show all the particulars and details of live squirrels, then I do a mount of one. It has a ton of information on squirrel anatomy, and is a very good learning tool for you.

I hope this has given you some help. Best of luck to you, and welcome. John B.


This response submitted by George Roof on 11/15/99. ( )

Who says the Northwest School of Taxidermy doesn't still live. (Inside joke for us old farts). I didn't think anyone even knew about mounting small animals this way.

First,I hope you kept measurements. If you did, go to any of the major suppliers and order the form made by John David Ellzey or John Bellucci. These forms come with a manniken body AND head. Make sure you remove all the flesh in the eyebrows and lips and take most of the cartilage out of the nose. Cut lip slots in the manniken and cut off a little piece of the nose area to allow relief for you skin. Although many people tan the skin, small varmints aren't worth that much time to me. I powder them with dry preservative and place the skin over the form. Put a small piece of Potter's clay in the removed nose area and install the eyes and put clay around them to replace the eyebrows. Push your nose into the clay. Open the nostrils with a wire or nail. Tuck the lips into the slots.
And then you can sew the mount up. Back brush the tail with a soft bristle brush and spray with hair spray to hold the hairs upright. Sculpt the eyes. (I don't open squirrel ears. I use an insulin needle and inject either Touchstone's 4in 1 or Bruce Rittels new product PreservesIt. Then card the ears until dry.

No measurements

This response submitted by Miranda on 11/15/99. ( )

I knew before I ordered the kit that it used the mammal fill method. I did think about taking measurements, but not until I already had the squirrel almost skinned out. I didn't worry too much about it because I figured I would just be stuffing the hide full with the filler. I didn't know I had to leave the skull in to do this. Is there any way I can get any kind of accurate measurements just using the hide itself? The squirrel was medium-large when intact. Can I guess at the size well enough to order the right form? I would like to get more into taxidermy than just doing the one squirrel. Could I order 2-3 forms of various sizes and use the closest one, saving back the others for future mounts? Thanks.


This response submitted by ryan on 2/13/00. ( )

hey it is a simple way. i am 13yrs. old and the first mount i did was with the Rinehart set. It turned out ok but the second squirrel i did i used a mannequin. WAY BETTER. I loved the way it look all you got to do is wrap the skin around the mannequin after preserving it and sew it back up. Have fun

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