Best method for preserving a rattlesnake skin?

Submitted by MAX on 6/14/06 at 10:00 PM. ( )

Sorry if this seems longwinded. I just want to be detailed.

I skinned a rattlesnake yesterday. I pinned the skin against a board and left it to dry overnight. (Before I pinned it, I sprinkled a layer of salt on the 'inside' of the skin, as a website I read mentioned this step).

So, it's been out there for almost 24 hours now, and I noticed that some of the scales are starting to become quite dry and separating from the "skin" itself. Is it the salt? Something tells me I shouldn't have used salt.

I don't plan on using this skin for any kind of craft, so I don't think I need to "tan" it. I just want to be able to display it on a wall and roll it for when it needs to be stored. I have an older rattlesnake skin hanging on my wall but I did not treat it correctly and it does not bend at all (stiff as a board).

My research here tells me I may get good results by treating the skin with a few coats of glycerin or antifreeze. I've also heard of various mixtures with alcohol, though I'm not sure what kind (as far as strength, aka 70%).

Before I do anything else I just want to get some confirmations or corrections regarding the proper method for treating the skin. Any input I get is greatly appreciated. While I'm at it, perhaps there is a way to restore some pliability to the old skin. What do you think?

Thank you so much!

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Max, to be blunt, your "research" sucks

This response submitted by George on 6/14/06 at 10:13 PM. ( )

There are possible 2 or 3 individuals in the entire world who recommend antifreeze or glycerine paint on. Now just click that orange SEARCH icon in the left column and type in "preserving snake skin". Look for names that are recognized in the industry and read what they have to say about it. Please, please, avoid reading anything I might have said as I think using either of those two chemicals is dumber than dog do do.


This response submitted by Evelyn on 6/15/06 at 10:51 AM. ( )

I agree with George. You need to do a lot more research. If you want your snake skin to be pliable, you will have to tan and oil it. Forget everything about antifreeze and glycerin. The best thing you can do is to order a snake tanning kit from either WASCO (True Tan Reptile Tan, that's what we use in our studio)or from any of the other suppliers. They come with detailed instruction you have to follow.

Yes you made a mistake by letting the skin dry like this. If it is not too stiff, wash the salt off and put it in the freezer until your tanning kit arrives and then follow the instructions.


This response submitted by MAX on 6/15/06 at 2:03 PM. ( )

I guess by "research" what I really meant was "looking at a few random pages".

Anyway, I'm very glad I asked. I hope it is not too stiff, and I will take your advice, Evelyn, and put it in the freezer and just order a kit. Is there any particular way you suggest I store it in the freezer? Could I perhaps roll it carefully and place it in a jar (that seems to me like it would be the most logical)?

I understand that making mistakes and screwing up is all part of the learning process, but I was really hoping to get it right this time because I love snakes and HATE killing them (but I would like at least one good, preserved skin).

I appreciate the responses very much.

Bag it

This response submitted by Evelyn on 6/15/06 at 4:56 PM. ( )

You can store it in a jar in the freezer if you like. If you think the snake will stay in the freezer for an extended time (longer then a month) I would put it in a zip lock bag and squeeze out all the air before closing to prevent freezer burn.

borax it

This response submitted by matt caudill on 6/28/06 at 12:02 AM. ( )

borax is stuff that you clean cloths with but it is great for skinning because after you take the skin off of it put some of it on the skin and it will dry the meat from the skin off and then just rub all the stuff off leave the borax on it for about a week and then do it


This response submitted by jay on 7/3/06 at 8:32 PM. ( )

after using borox on the snake skin i just applied 50/50 glycerin and ethyl alcohol how long will it take to sofen the skin? i use borox alot in furs

True Tan the way to go!

This response submitted by AngeloP. on 7/4/06 at 1:28 PM. ( )

As Evelyn recommended earlier, True Tan Reptile Tan from WASCO is great and will leave you a very soft and supple snake skin with no coloring loss. I left my snake skins pinned up, then oiled them 3 or 4 times over a period of about a week. I've found a woman who takes exotic skins and can make anything for your customers(wallets, hat bands, belts, etc.) She said that the tanned skins that I gave her to work with were of excellent quality. It's worked great for me and my customers. Good Luck!


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