Scales slipping?

Submitted by Amy on 10/30/01. ( )

I've heard that if you are making a snakeskin belt or something that you should scrap off the scales. Otherwise they will start to fall off and the skin will look bad. Well, I was tanning a copperhead yesterday, and I had a LOT of scales fall off. It looks quite bad.

But my question is, what if you are mounting a snake? Obviously you can't remove the scales then. So what do you do to keep them from falling off?

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Snake Skin Tanning

This response submitted by Dave B. on 10/30/01. ( )

Hello Amy,
The first thing needed to be knowen is what are you doing as far as the tanning goes? Are you or did you salt and pickle?
You would descale a snake the basicly the same as you would dehair a deer hide.Lime, delime then Bate.What are you using as a tan?

Have a great day,

Shedding skin of snakes.

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 10/30/01. ( )

Your copperhead is probably simply shedding its' outside layer. Snakes molt at various times of the year when they have grown sufficiently enough to require a new outside (to put it in laymens terms). When tanning a hide you must take into account at what stage the animal is at, in the cycle. A newly shed skin is perfect and will not shed a layer, but it is better to be a couple days old to allow the outside to "harden a bit".
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT, TAKE THE ADVICE ON USING LIME TO SLIP THE SCALES. Reptile skin has the scales embedded in the skin and they do not slough off like hair on a mammal. If the snake was near a stage when it will molt, then you need to scrape the outside layer off - no chemical will do this for you and not damage the skin - period, end of statement.

I read an article about it.

This response submitted by Dave B. on 10/30/01. ( )

I read a whole chapter about it in one of my older tanning books.
The snake skins were tanned with a chrome tan and the scales were removed using lime. I dont make working leathers so have never needed to remove the scales. But, this is what the article said. It was written in the 50'2 though, so I'de imagine that times and techniques have changed since then. Sorry about that!

Snake mounting

This response submitted by George on 10/30/01. ( )

Forget about tanning a snake skin if you are intending to mount it. Treat it like you would a fish skin. Either soak it in a mixture of denatured alcohol/borax, or in methanol, or DP it and mount. I usually just scrape the skin clean and DP the skin before mounting. Use a good glue so you can taxi the scale patterns and remember the outside scales separate and the inside ones overlap. Piece of cake.

snake skin slippage

This response submitted by on 11/1/01. ( )

Hey Amy! In regards to your qustions, George hit the nail on the head so to speak. I have mounted snakes from 10 inches to 22 feet, and tanning is not necessary. After you scrape out and the flesh the skin good, just DP it and you are ready to go.The methanol bath is OK, but it tends to give you a false sense of the actual measuremnts as the skin will shrink appreciatively. You must relax it after the methanol bath in very cold water so it will regain ints flexibility but just for a short time otherwise the skin will reabsorb the waterand the methanol step will e a moot point. Snakes DO NOT actually shed scales. If they do, the skin is rotting and is beyon repair.Snakes do shed their outer layer of scale protection, and this does happen during molting or in the case of pythons and other constrictors about a month after the skin is totally dry. You can help this along with a GUM ERASER rubbed down the hardened skin from head to tail.Good luck AMY and sorry to be long winded, just wanted to make sure you were pointedin the right direction


This response submitted by R.S. on 11/3/01. ( )

I'm sorry...what does DP stand for?


This response submitted by George on 11/3/01. ( )

New at this whole thing, huh. Just short for Dry Preservative.


This response submitted by R.S. on 11/6/01. ( ) to it is an accurate description. Where does one get Methanol, Glycerine, and Borax? Hardware stores?

Tanning a snake skin

This response submitted by Roger on 12/31/01. ( )

What is the process and what are the chemicals that are used in tanning a snake skin? It has already been dried and stretched.

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