I just mounted my first rattlesnake tonight. I was wondering how much shrinkage to expect? I used the method in the artlicle on hidetanning.net by Evelyn Mills. I am pretty happy with it for the first night. I do have a little loose skin about 4 inches from the head. I have a damp towell on it right now so I can add more filler if needed. Thanks in advance.
Return to Reptile Taxidermy Category Menu
If you used Ev's method of tamping, there will be klittle or no shrinkage. Since snake skins do dry out pretty quickly on the outside. form alterations are pretty much impossible once the outside skin has formed a dry outside skin to it, wothout cracking or dimpling the skin. Some rattlers after eating will exhibit lose skin in the neckarea till it reforms itself, and is quite natural so fixing this is not necessary for accuracy, but needs to be fixed for support as the tightness of the pack is what makes your artificial form inside. as the skin dries, it compresses the vermiculite, and dries against like a foam form. I would suggest leaving the looseness rather than filling as it may make matters worse, unless it comprimises the stability of the snake. If it is a great deal loose, then adding fill tostop inverted shrinking of the skin( unnatural) isneeded. Never rewet a skin at this point where skimmed over dry skin meets wet skin as it will effefct the natural junction and you will get a wrinkle seam. Always best to make sure your pack is consistent for this reason. Sometimes it is best to remove the head at this point and refill through the mouth, then insert thehead form and reglue in plsace. This way you are not effecting the whole snake mount.
if you only have a little bit of loose skin that will tighten up over the next couple of weeks. The neck area is the most vulnerable area on the snakemount for loose skin. Give it time, it will tighten up. If you are concerned about having understuffed this area you can fix it the way Tom described above.
Get rid of the damp towel. It won't do any good but hinders the drying process.
Thank you both for your help. I did add a little more vermiculite and will leave the towell off. This is my first snake and I must say that I really appreciated the article. I have 7 more in the freezer and I am going to mount one with a foam form next. I could not find a head the right size so I carved one for this snake. This was a great experience and I feel I learned a lot.