1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Lets talk about roadkill and roadkill kits

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Icarus, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. Icarus

    Icarus Something Witty

    The weathers getting cooler and I know a lot of beginners (myself included!) are starting to eyeball those critters laying on the side of the road. There are a few things I wanted to share that will hopefully make everyone's experience a safe and happy one.

    First off - Check Your State Laws
    Some states have specific laws regarding roadkill. It can be highly illegal to pick animals up-CHECK FIRST!

    Some states require a permit, others don't, others don't want you touching them to begin with. Take the time to check online and call all of the local offices for information before you go tossing dead animals into the back of your car.

    Now, lets talk about kits! ;D

    If you're really interested in taking home roadkill, I highly suggest preparing for larger animals such as deer and not just common animals such as squirrels or possums. You may not find many (or any) road killed deer but when you do it's better to be prepared for them instead of having to pass them up when the opportunity arises. Especially if you have a small or enclosed car, such as a van or regular little sedan kinda thing where it's only trunk space.

    I keep a medium sized cooler in the back of my van. It serves two purposes-keeping my supplies from flying around the car (small toolbox also works great) and acts as a place to store whatever I pick up. It helps keep any lingering smells contained and is easy to clean after use. Mine has a drain plug for easy cleaning, but it's just as simple to bleach any other kind.

    I highly recommend carrying at least the following supplies -
    Latex-Free Examination Gloves - 4+ pairs - I buy mine from a discount shop in the next town over. They are thin but they work fine for poking and probing, and when doubled are quite nice.

    Heavy Duty Disposable Gloves - I use blue Nitrile protection gloves (puncture and abrasion resistant) but a heavy-duty set or two of kitchen gloves also work fine. For large or messy jobs that would shred my regular gloves.

    A whole bunch of grocery bags - I keep all the bags we bring home from the store. These are awesome for double bagging a fresh squirrel or two.

    4+ heavy-duty black lawn bags - If you pick up something that's a not quite as fresh you'll be quite happy you brought these. Wrapped and taped they work very well for keeping fluids and smell in.

    Regular newspaper - Great for wrapping things that might get a little leaky or not as fresh. Also great for padding pointy things such as antlers.

    Duct tape or electric tape - Duct tape is better but electrical tape works also fine. Can really be a lifesaver in keeping something from leaking if it rolls around.

    Cheap rubber boots - I picked up a young buck a good two weeks old. Not much left of him but I didn't want the spinal column or hips so I had to cut the head off. Unfortunately, I was in sneakers, I didn't have my kit on me (no bone saw) so I worked with a utility blade, a pair of gloves, and sheer force. A pair of cheap rubber boots will save you from having to put your shoes through the wash because they stink like two week old deer carcass.

    Knives, bone saw, knife sharpener - I keep a small gutting knife, a small cleaver, a small bone or handsaw, and a sharpening stick. Nothing like trying to cut the head off something with a dull blade! I keep the knives in old socks so if I go to grab something I don't cut my fingers off.

    Alcohol or Wet-Wipes - Always, always, ALWAYS disinfect and wash your hands as soon as possible after handling! Especially if you get blood on yourself because you found a fresh deer and don't want to take the whole thing home with you.

    Be especially careful when handling Domestics, Raccoon, Opossum, Armadillo, and Badger (Non-Roadkill).

    Be extremely cautious when handling any domestic animal (especially cats and dogs) if you do not know <i>exactly</i> what killed it or where not present at time of death. This of course goes for all 'dunno how it died' critters but domestics are especially dangerous. If you pick up a cat, do you want your cat possibly contracting whatever killed Fluffy too? Feral critters are not the vaccinated and well-cared for sort.
    If you find a dog, cat, or even a cow just laying out somewhere and you want to take it home for the bones, handle it like it's radioactive. Take every precaution in the book and dispose of very carefully. Use plenty of bleach-disinfect, disinfect, disinfect!

    Raccoon, Opossum, Armadillo, and Badger all carry very nasty diseases, keep your pets away, wear gloves when handling, and disinfect. These aren't the only animals that carry things but are some of the most common. A lot of diseases are blood or saliva borne so keep that in mind when working with dead things. Obviously they died of something! If it wasn't a car, who knows?

    Euthanized (injected) animals are also very risky due to the type and amount of drugs used to put them down. It can be deadly to you too, if you must accept a injected animal be sure to find out exactly what was used to kill it (if the owner does not know, find out which vet preformed the euthanasia and ask), how long ago, and use puncture resistant gloves while skinning or handling any part.

    Gassed (c02) animals present no health risk from the c02 itself. They may have other diseases, so be careful.

    Freeze whatever you bring home before you play with it - I suggest freezing things for at least a week to kill off any fleas, ticks, mites, or other creepy crawlies you don't want on you, in your house, or in your shop. Putting the animal in a sealed trash bag and gassing it with bug spray also works great. Gassing and freezing is best.

    Roadkill-where legal-is a great way to get cheap critters to practice on especially if you don't have any place to trap or hunt. The most important part is being prepared and staying safe.

    Have fun! ;D
  2. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    I bet you have recipe's too?

  3. bearrug48

    bearrug48 Active Member

    Thanks for all the insight.
  4. Icarus

    Icarus Something Witty

    I don't eat anything that hasn't been trapped or hunted and put away right :p Would you?
    'coon I hear is pretty tasty, 'possum is supposed to be pretty greasy though. Fox smelled great when I cleaned heads. Squirrels awful popular in the south.

    There are a lot of kids who will go out and pick up dead things that should really be handled with more care. Roadkill might seem beneath most professional taxidermists, but to us beginners it means having something to work on versus being able to read about it on the internet :)
  5. steamvalley

    steamvalley some cleaned and dipped skulls

    Ann do you have any room in your trunk for your groceries?
  6. make sure your road kill is dead first . you might find out the hard way
  7. interesting post, can't say I know of many gals driving around with cooler looking for dead animals??? We probably got some gals around here ,driving around with a cooler, but its filled with cold ones, and their looking for dudes??? But thats Texas?
  8. Icarus

    Icarus Something Witty

    I didn't keep a cooler in the car until recently. Before it was just a tiny little toolbox with basic supplies-gloves and the like. Shame to have to pass up a possum because it might drip on the carpet. ;)

    In all seriousness though, there are a lot of gals (and guys) who will pick up roadkill or dead animals in general. Obviously you don't want to go picking up the gassiest, nastiest, slimiest thing you can find but who wants to pass up a deer? Might be a little maggoty but with a strong gut and proper handling it can be cleaned and on the wall in no time.

    I don't go trolling for critters, but if I see something nice and it isn't too hot out I won't pass it up. Us wee beginner folk would rather have a squirrel with a shattered skull and a buggy eye in the freezer versus nothing at all. We are, after all, mostly youngsters on a budget working off kitchen tables.

    I bet quite a few pros picked up practice critters back in the day too. Maybe they don't want to admit it? ;)
  9. Wolfie101

    Wolfie101 New Member

    I can only really work on roadkill because I'm broke :D the joys of starting out!
  10. PluckyPossum

    PluckyPossum New Member

    Didn't even think about the health risks of a euthanized pet. Thanks for sharing!
  11. theguyyouknowtaxidermy

    theguyyouknowtaxidermy The Guy You Know Taxidermy<Daniel Elkins>

    In my book, Safety always third!!!!!!

    I have picked road killed raccoons up when I was selling the hides. For myself as an man, I just walk up kick it once, reach down and pick it up and throw it in the back of my truck.

    That simple, it went from the back of my truck to being skin and thrown in the tanning solution with in hours.
  12. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    What?? It was that simple? You mean I didn't have to read 18 paragraphs on how to pick up road pizza?
  13. Mink

    Mink New Member

    That's pretty much how I do it too ;D I sell lots of fur and roadkill can be a good supplement to that inventory if the pelt is good enough. This is the only time of year I'll pick up roadkill anyway, because in the summer/spring the fur is just no good. Also I have my trapping supplies stored in the trunk which includes a plastic bin that I throw my catches in after I dispatch them. Works fine for road kills too, and prevents leakage into the rest of the trunk.
  14. Icarus

    Icarus Something Witty

    You counted? ;)
  15. Why do you consider injection-euthanized animals so risky? I've only heard of problems with eating an animal euthanized with barbituates. How could you get a dangerous amount of the drug into yourself during skinning?
  16. swoods

    swoods New Member

    The main risk of euthanized (injected) animals mainly lies in any diseases that they may have carried that caused the animal to be euthanized in the first place. The secondary risk is the euthanization solution.