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Some questions from a complete noob

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by thylacinelover, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. If you've seen my introduction thread, you guys know that I know nothing about taxidermy,but I'll just state that again here just in case. Also, please bare with me if some of these questions seem stupid. I am a total noob at taxidermy. I just enjoy looking at other people's mounts.

    Now for my questions:

    1. In taxidermy, is it possible to only get animals that died naturally so they don't have to die from hunting, fur farming, or other methods in which humans kill them?
    2. Do you have to remove the insides of the animals or is it possible to get an animal with that already done?
    3. Do you have to worry about the animals rotting/decaying since they're dead?
    4.Is it true that if you have a mount and you pet it too much, the fur will start to fall off and get ruined?I read that that happened with a famous dog that they had at some musuem where they let the visitors pet the dog mount and then the fur started falling off and getting ruined and looking gross so they removed it and put it back inside a glass case away from people touching it.
    5.Is it illegal to get mounts or pelts of extinct animals like thylacines for private ownership?
    6. Is it even possible to get the pelts?
    7.Can you turn a pelt into a mount? Like these kinds of pelts:
    I heard you can't because they don't have all the body part alot of the time.
    8. Is taxidermy a hard thing to learn how to do?
    9. How did you guys get rid of the intial fears or morbidness feelings you had towards fooling with deads animals? I wonder about taxidermy for myself,but I really feel wierd around anything to do with death so I don't know....
    10. How much do good lifesize realistic mounts usually cost?

    That's all the questions I have for now but I might post more later. Thanks in advance for any answers.
  2. I myself have not performed any taxidermy yet but I have been researching it a lot and I believe I can answer some of your questions. :)

    1. Some people obtain roadkill (though usually that requires a license) or animals that died of age, etc. Roadkill I don't think are ideal for mounting though because many of them have injuries or damaged skin/fur, though it is definitely not unheard of. My cousins had a roadkill fox mounted a couple years back.
    2. I'm a little confused about this one, so I'll leave that for someone else.
    3. Yes you do have to worry about rotting and decay. Many taxidermists use Stop Rot for that and they always try to assure their pelts/animals/skins are properly frozen until they are prepared to skin/prep/salt/tan (unless the pelt is tanned/mounted of course!)
    4. I would imagine constant and lots of touching could damage the pelt/fur and cause the fur to come out. In a museum I could definitely see them having that problem, due to all of the people that visit museums...
    5. I'm not too educated on this, but I doubt you'd be able to obtain an extinct animal pelt. Usually only museums have extinct animals (if there are even pelts of such) and if you wanted to buy them I'm sure it'd cost a LOT of money (if they even decided to sell it to you!) That stuff is priceless in my opinion. I couldn't see a museum selling any.
    6. Pelts of extinct animals? I doubt there are any around, to be honest. If there are, they're most likely in museums, like I said above.
    7. Hide and Fur have mostly non-taxidermy quality pelts I believe, but the ads for each specific pelt usually say whether they are mountable or not.
    8. Yes, it's very difficult (in my opinion) and takes a lot of hard work, determination, practice, and precision. It also costs a lot of money (for pelts/skins/materials/forms/labor/etc).
    9. I used to have a major fear of dead animals (anything dead, really) until I grew interested in taxidermy. I then realized it was for the sake of preserving that animal, making them look like they're alive again, preserving their beauty, spirit, etc. So I got over it fairly quickly.
    10. It depends on the animal, the quality of the mount, the size, what kind of mount, and the taxidermist mounting the animal.

  3. Tsarevna

    Tsarevna New Member

    Roadkill is a method "in which humans kill them." Accidentally perhaps, but humans killed them none the less.

    Unless you want to wait until an animal dies of old age, or some disease, and somehow you'll be ready to skin it or freeze it whole just after death, then then answer is no. (BTW, sick and old animals have a poor appearance and will make your taxidermy work look bad.)

    We like to drive our cars, it's a choice, and roadkill animals are not *natural* deaths by any means. Not many people stop to see if an animal they hit is dead or alive, so they often have suffered the most from human hands. I myself have stopped often to pick up roadkill. A couple of times I found raccoons suffering and still alive. I have never seen an animal suffering in a trap because trappers take great care to prevent that sort of thing.

    So, is "picking up roadkill" more ethical than using taxidermied animals killed by humans via hunting or trapping? I wouldn't say so. But it is good that they are used so they don't go to waste.

    There are 2 main ways to do taxidermy. 1 is using the skin of the animal only, keeping the feet and claws on a pelt, and bottom lip, which is not normal for the fur trade. That means no muscles or bone or guts, just skin stretched over a form. The form is a fake body, and the skin goes over it. The link you posted is to furs that are no good for taxidermy. Those foxes will not have feet on them or bottom lips. You need to get specially skinned animals with the lip and feet intact.

    If you wanted to freeze-dry taxidermy an animal, you'd buy it 100% whole with no damage to it. That is the second way.

    #3 The animal won't rot at all if the taxidermist does it right. It will be like leather, preserved with no bad smell.

    #4 Some animal skins are more tough than others. Rabbit and nutria always has hair fall out as they always shed hairs. Ermine and opossum are fragile too. They are not very tough. If you want a "plushie" that is a taxidermied animal you can hold, that would be soft, you might go with an animal that has tough fur. Otter, beaver and mink do not lose their hair easily. Still, the more it is handled, the quicker it will wear and start to have thin spots or bald spots.

    #5 You might need an attorney to figure out the legalities of owning an endangered or extinct animal mount. It is easier if you purchase it in your home country, because what is most difficult is dealing with the legal issues of importing and transporting a mount.

    #7 It's better to just realize something. There is no vegetarian food, and fake fur kills sea otters. Where am I going with this? Well you asked about how we deal with dead animals. Realizing these facts has helped me.

    You might be uncomfortable with "killing animals" but if you eat bread, you're killing animals. If you eat tomatoes, or ketchup, you're killing animals. Same with salad. Why? Animals are killed by tractors all the time. Rabbits, rodents, birds. Where veggies and grains are stored, you can bet there are mouse and rat traps, and maybe even poison. There's more dead animals going into making a loaf of bread than there is in a dozen servings of venison. 1 deer for many meals, vs dozens of rodents for 1 meal.

    So, I realized that every person is responsible for animal deaths every day. You can try to avoid it, but you can't really, you can only fool yourself. This is the attitude of a mature person, and it helps.

    It can be gross to touch them, but you get used to it. I always wear thick gloves, and an apron. I don't deal with ones that are not fresh, as i don't like rotting odor. Just remember that you are respecting the animal by preserving it as something beautiful rather than allowing it to just rot.

    You *could* do simulation taxidermy which is taxidermy from *not real* animal parts. It just won't turn out nice though. As for fake fur being more ethical, things like oil spills happen and they kill endangered species en-masse. Fake fur is made from oil products, and that's why i say fake fur kills sea otters.

    Remember, that trappers and hunters don't kill endangered animals, only poachers do. And they are very rare compared to the majority who are legal and ethical. So buy your animals or skins from a licensed trapper or hunter of good reputation and don't lose any sleep over it. Trapping and hunting keeps overpopulation of animal species from happening, and that helps prevent outbreaks of disease and animals dying from food shortages. Don't worry about that at all.
  4. You can buy skins for taxidermy that have already been tanned and are ready to mount just look in the for sale section on this site.
  5. Edit: Sorry for the horrible text formatting. This is what I get for typing this in notepad and then copying and pasting. Silly me.

    Thanks guys. I didn't expect to get answers to helpful and detailed and so fast. :)

    Now that you mention it I remember that one of my favorite taxidermist on Deviantart uses only animals that were killed for reasons other than to be used for mounts or pelts, i.e. euthanized for being sick, injuried, or too old to function properly, roadkill, animals that died naturally,etc.

    For the inside, I meant like guts/organs. This goes along with the question on if I could just buy pelts that have only the skin and no blood or guts to deal with and just mount the pelt. I get queasy really easy at the sight of
    blood and insides so that's why I was asking.

    So if buy a pelt that's tanned, then it won't decay? Is it still able to be turned into a lifesize mount if it's tanned?

    So,then are mounts like a "Look but don't touch" kind of thing or can you occassionally pet them as long as you don't do it too much or for too long?

    How did the musuems get them? From hunters that shot them and still had the pelts? I wonder if it's possible to find a hunter that still owns a pelt and convince them to sell me it if I offer alot of money,but because it's a Tasmanian Tiger I want, there's also the problem of importing the skin do to the ESA because tazzie tigers are actually listed on it even though they were declaredextint :/ which means there'd be regulations on getting/importing the pelt if I could even get it legally in the first place.

    Oh. Ok. Thanks for letting me know so I didn't waste my money on them. They sell beautiful pelts but I don't want to have my animal sitting flat and lifeless on the ground,but to make it look alive. Well, I probably wouldn't have bought from them anyway since they use fur farms which I'm personally against,but that's a dicussion for another day.

    The pelts seem to usually run in the hundred of dollars range it seems, even of common ones like coyotes which run like $250 each from what I've seen so I can tell it's definitely not easy on the pocket book and if I wanted to just buy the pelt and commision a proffesional taxidermist to mount it for me, that's even more expensive. I'm most intersed in taxidermy fox and coyote,especially rare color morphs of them,but it's probably really stupid for me to get a rare color for my first pelt because then I might end up accidentally ruining it and there's a beautiful pelt and a lot of cash out the window. What do you reccomend for a good starter animal,i.e. the cheapest animal pelt possible to find that's also easy for a beginner to work on? So, like not a mouse or rat or squirrel, because even if they are the cheapest, they seem like they'd be hard to work with since they are so small.

    Well,the things is I can see in respect the beauty in the finished art pecies,but as I mentioned above I get really queezy around blood,guts,etc.

    Well, the animals I'm most interested in would be red fox(especially rare morph colors), coyote( again especially rare morph colors), eastern coyote, maybe grey wolf that were obtained legally, and I also wouldn't turn down the pelt of a golden or blackbacked jackal or of a dingo legally obtained. The quality of the mount should be like the animal looks like it's alive unless you take a second glance. It should also be lifesize. I thinking maybe a plush or posable as I've done a little bit or reading up since joining here and it seems that plushes and posable can be handled more than traditional. I know one of the taxidermist I like charges about $400 for whole mounts,but she doesn't always sell them and keeps alot of the them. I'm not sure what another taxidermist I like charges though but she often has sales over her animals and makes excellent fox specimens that I could swear could come to life and jump at me...

    Sorry. That's my fault. I should have specified. I actually meant methods in which animals were intently killed by humans only for the person of making pelts or mounts out of them.
    If they are killed for other reasons like hunting a deer for it's meat and you just taxidermy the left over skin, or someone catching a coyote killing their livestock and shooting it in the process wants to mount it, or if it's an
    invasive species like the nutria in the Lousiana and people want to kill them to protect the native species,etc.

    One of the taxidermist I like on Deviantart actually uses only methods in which the animals weren't killed spefically for pelting or mounting purposes. She collects road kill, animals from exotic pet breeders where they animals had to be euthanized for illness,injury, or because of severe impairment by old age,population culls of nuisance species,etc.

    I think I might do the first way if I do get into. What is freeze drying? Is that the method where you have to take out the insides yourself? Pelts and skins don't gross me out,but I get really squeezy around blood and guts which is why I think I might do better with just the pelt method.

    Ok. Thank you. I was worried about that. Don't want a dead animal stinking up my house.

    Some people use fox for plushies. Do they make good plushie? The artist on Deviantart that I like makes some really nice fox "plushies" and they're posable mounts too. I don't plan to handle it too much,just maybe pet or stroke it every now and then as if it were alive.

    Yep. That's what I thought about the importing. Looks like I can't get a thylacine. If there are any around in private hands, they are probably in the hands of some hunter in Tasmanian that shot them before they went extinct which means I'd have to import since I'm from the US amusing the hunter would even want to sell them anyway.

    As for number 7, I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean it as "How could you do this to an animal?" or "It's gross" or anything accusatory like that. Sorry if it came out that way. I am perfecty fine with eating meat and

    using real fur provided the animal was killed humanely and perferably for another reason besides just simply getting it's fur. I was asking more of how ones like me who has a fear of death and dead things,but yet is at the same time intrigued at taxidermy, gets over their fears so they can maybe try it out...

    Yes. I am well aware I am responsible for animals deaths as I eat meat everyday for 3 meals a day. As I said, I have nothing against humane hunting of animals in which the animals were killed for reasons other than just to stuff them or take their fur. I don't mind if you stuff your left over deer skins after you eat the venison because you used the meat.

    I definitely respect the art of preserving animals out or respect for them. That's why I'm here on this forum. ;)
    Ewww. The rotting odor sounds gross. I definitely couldn't do that. The gloves and apron aren't a bad idea actually as it'll keep the blood and stuff from getting onto me somewhat,but I still have to get over my bad habit of getting squeezy at the sight of blood.

    I am aware of the environmental hazards of wake fur which is why I don't plan to use it. Thanks for the tip though.

    I am aware of that. I have nothing against trappers and hunters even if some of the stuff goes against my morals. I still respect others morals and opinions. That's all morals are really, just a stronger version of someone's

    opinions and everyone has a right to have their own opinions. Don't worry. I won't be buying from poachers as I don't plan to get any endangered animal mounts. I am all about the balance of the ecosystems so I want lose any sleep over that.

    @Kirk33: Thank you. I'll give it a look. :)
  6. hmw

    hmw New Member

    I don't think taxidermy is for you
  7. Randy Miller

    Randy Miller Active Member

  8. vmarzilli

    vmarzilli New Member

    Just by living the way humans live we are all responsible for premature animal deaths. Also, I would avoid roadkill
  9. You could keep your hands clean by buying an already-tanned skin (which will not rot) and mounting it either as a typical or soft mount. But I don't think it's possible to become a good taxidermist without working with the carcass. How could you learn and understand the anatomy without experiencing it?

    Why not just try it? What's the worst that could happen? You can spend a lot of time pondering whether you can handle it, but you really won't know unless you try. Dead things might not be so scary if you're seeing them as a study tool and a piece of art waiting to happen. You could start by getting an instructional video or visiting a taxidermist. If you can't watch someone else skin an animal you probably won't be able to do it yourself, and if you do decide to go further you'll have the resources to do so.
  10. Outback 33

    Outback 33 U.S.A.

  11. @Hmw, Randy Miller, and Outback33: But you can do taxidermy without the blood and guts if you get just a pelt.

    @vmarzilli: Don't worry. I don't plan on getting any roadkill skunks.

    @roughlegged hawk: Thankns for the tips. Actually, if I do start, I think I might just start with the tanned skin method and maybe later move up to see if I can handle the one with the actual carcass.

    @Feather: Thanks for the tips. I don't really like the taste of duck though. That's a good idea if I could find a chicken like that though. I'm still not so sure I could handle it though. I'd rather start with a pelt than with fish parts.
  12. Reasking some questions since I think they got lost in my wall of text.

    So if I buy a pelt that's tanned, then it won't decay? Is it still able to be turned into a lifesize mount if it's tanned?

    So,then are mounts like a "Look but don't touch" kind of thing or can you occassionally pet them as long as you don't do it too much or for too long?

    I'm most intersted in taxidermy fox and coyote,especially rare color morphs of them,but it's probably really stupid for me to get a rare color for my first pelt because then I might end up accidentally ruining it and there's a beautiful pelt and a lot of cash out the window. What do you reccomend for a good starter animal,i.e. the cheapest animal pelt possible to find that's also easy for a beginner to work on?

    I think I might do the first way if I do get into taxidermy. What is freeze drying? Is that the method where you have to take out the insides yourself? Pelts and skins don't gross me out,but I get really queezy around blood and guts which is why I think I might do better with just the pelt method.

    As for the foxes,coyotes, wolves, or other canids, I don't plan to handle them too much,just maybe pet or stroke it every now and then as if it were alive. Will this ruin the mount/pelt?

    Also,what is wrap mount taxidermy?
  13. Bob Katz

    Bob Katz Lil One- my bestest girlfriend

    WHAT THE.................sounds like you should look into a different ocacupation !!
  14. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    This is the same person who proclaimed that taxidermy is "macabre" in another post. WHY he/she/it shows up on a professional taxidermy website and asks such dumbass questions is beyond my IQ. You need to get a life first. Taxidermy includes skinning out dead animals. Get over it. Sometimes those dead animals have their intestines and body organs still inside. Get over it. Sometimes blood vessels still have trapped blood in their veins and arteries. Get over it.

    OH, and if you CAN'T get over it, then get the hell out. Real life isn't the sanitary whiteroom you seem to envision it to be.
  15. Randy Miller

    Randy Miller Active Member

    extinct animal lover----just get some DVDs, watch and comprehend them THEN attempt to mount something. After that come back with further Qs. Until you have something under your belt, you are just all over the place and being a pain. You won't get the help you are seeking until you have some sort of clear understanding. We can't (and won't) do it all for you. You're asking too many Q's in too many directions at once. Go away, get a clue, then come back.
  16. Wow. Rude much? I said I'm a beginner. Everyone has to start somewhere. When you want advice, you do ask professionals you know.
  17. Randy Miller

    Randy Miller Active Member

    And that is the advice you are getting. Do something to help youself FIRST.
  18. How are they dumb? I am just learning. I bet when you first started you didn't know what wrap mounts were or what animal to start with. I think asking what animal a beginner should start with is a pretty smart question. I care about not ruining a beutiful and rare animal with a noob quality mount when I'm just starting.

    And IMO, there are lots of taxidermist who buy pelts with lips on them from others and then stretch the pelt over a form. Not everybody whose interested in taxidermy is a hunter whose used to seeing blood and guts or wants to keep the animal around their house just to be some sort of hunting trophy. The end result is the same anyway. It's not like you mount the animal when it still has the insides in it. You just use the pelt any way so it's not that big of a deal to get an already skinned pelt from someone.

    I do have a life for the record. It just doesn't invovle taxidermy yet.

    As for the macabre thing, you are taking my words out of context. Someone else mentioned it in the topic about soft mounts and I just made the comment that what makes a soft mount more macabre than a traditional mount when both use dead animals and the definition of macabre according to the dictionary is basically anything having to deal with death.
  19. Keyda81

    Keyda81 I'd rather be weird than normal

    All the answers you seek have already been asked and answered. You just have to do the research. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of reading. Trust me I know. Use the search button on this forum, and you'll be amazed at what you find.
  20. I am helping myself first. That's why I'm asking questions of professionals on this forum instead of just going out and buying a random pelt and stuffing it with no idea what I'm doing. Also, stores aren't exactly crawling with "How to Do Taxidermy" videos. I don't even know where to get something like that. I thought this site was supposed to be for taxidermists of all skills level as well as taxidermy-enthusists who are intersted in it but haven't done it yet. Not a site just for know-it-all business owners with elitish attitudes who have nothing better to do than be jerks towards beginners when they were once beginners themselves. It's not just to me either. I've seen posts being rude to other newcomers and beginners as well.