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Skinning Rodents

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by bonus41, May 28, 2014.

  1. bonus41

    bonus41 Member

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    I've been increasingly interested in taxidermy over the last few years, I have several skins and mounts that I have picked up over the years (not done by me but others)

    My hamster died a couple days ago I was very attached to him and I coudn't bare letting him go so he is in my freezer because I want to mount him soon, but I never have mounted anything before and I would be scared to screw him up so I'm going to practice on some frozen mice because I have snakes...

    I'm pretty sure they don't have forms for hamsters and mice XD it woudldnt be worth it, so is the animal small enough that you can leave the head with the skull intact, taking out the parts that would rot... Or do you have to skin the whole thing and make my own form?
     
  2. Firstly, here is a video on skinning mice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNlaev0S1Zc Hopefully it will help!

    For the bodies, I use wrapped woodwool or cotton wool - I'll be uploading a video on that too very soon! It's a very good idea that you've just frozen the hamster now and are keeping him until you've had some practice - small animals can be very difficult!

    Also, hamsters are pretty difficult to get right as they have a LOT of extra skin (as I'm sure you know). Making a form for him is easier if you skin out the body and use it as a reference.

    You can skin the skull out, down to the teeth, leaving the teeth connected to the muzzle. You then clean out the eyes, tongue, brains etc, like in a bird. You can then rebuild the muscles on the skull with clay, use the glass eyes and then use the brain cavity to hold in your main 'spine' wire. I am happy to do a video on hamster taxidermy if this would help you :)

    Here is a hamster I have done previously:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Email me at [email protected] if you're interested in some guidance n_n Good luck!
     

  3. bonus41

    bonus41 Member

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    Thanks so much!! I l would love to see a video I'm a very visual learner! I'll contact you soon for help!
     
  4. Chupacabra84

    Chupacabra84 New Member

    Use the natural skull if possible, clean, scrape, and borax the h*** out of it. Do not crack the zygomatic arch :)

    [​IMG]


    My two hamsters. The first one had a really deformed skull with severely overgrown teeth, so I tossed the skull and used only cotton. You can see the anatomy is meh. For the second hamster I painstakingly cleaned the skull and made a woodwool body for the first time. Much happier with the results!

    As Inari said, retain the skinned body for reference. Make sure to FLESH the inner cheek areas, they have a lot of tissue and fat which can later bleed through its thin skin!

    edit: Also invest in those nice taxidermy pins to hold the facial features in place.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. CodyTheCorgi

    CodyTheCorgi Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    I personally use foam for my rodents. I skinned and laid my own hamster out flat like a rug in a way. You should practice a LOT before working on your own pet... Took me a year and 10 mice/rats later before I could dare touch a wild baby rabbit since I didn't wanna goof it up.

    The smaller it is, the harder it is to get detail done on. A lot of people cant do small rodents like mice, but will do large rats. Definitely start with a rat, get some borax mixed with salt, and you'll do just fine. Feel free to message me if you have any questions, I have a lot of experience with small rodents.
     
  6. "As Inari said, retain the skinned body for reference. Make sure to FLESH the inner cheek areas, they have a lot of tissue and fat which can later bleed through its thin skin! "

    Yes! This, they have a lot of crap in the cheeks!

    And I also agree with Cody - rats are MUCH easier than mice :)
     
  7. bonus41

    bonus41 Member

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    I think I have all my supplies ready :) I think I'll start off with rats and mice and see how it goes; I think I got the skinning part down packed! But after the skin is off the mouse do I salt/tan it right away then make the body form, then place it on the form pin the facial features till it dries is that what I do?

    For the form, I saw people use cotton or woodwool, I also saw above that they use foam what kind of foam? I used to make faux fur taxidermy and I used upholstry foam
     
  8. CodyTheCorgi

    CodyTheCorgi Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    Id never tan a mouse. I just put it in borax, let it sit while I make the form, then take it out, shake it out, and stick the form inside and sew it up. Dont take too long though, especially when skinning. The thinner the skin, the easier it is for the fur to 'slip'. That means it will fall out, and it most likely will for you on your first couple tries. Youll have to be extremely gentle, but remember practice makes perfect! For the legs i use white pipe cleaners. you can shave them down too to give shape. I use upholstery foam as well, just carve it very carefully with scissors. You can use it for the body too! Keep the body for references and whatnot. I use dressmakers pins in my work, since they're nice and small. Pin the mouse in place on a piece of cardboard however you'd like, and leave it alone for at LEAST a week or two. I let mine sit for 2 just to be safe. To keep the ears from curling or crumpling, you can take two tiny pieces of cardboard, one on each side of the ear, and put a small paperclip on top to keep them together, then pin however you want. You can blow on it or use a blow dryer on COOL from far away after its done drying to get any excess borax off.

    For the eyes I usually get pins with the balls on them and dip them in black nail polish, wait for it to dry, then clear coat and stick them in something where they can be left alone. You will want to do this a day before you start mounting, since it takes forever to harden. Fingerprints show up on them really easily if you don't. When you're ready to use them, put the form into the boraxed skin and use one of those fine tip sharpies to mark where the eye holes are on the foam. You can do this from looking at the carcass too. You just cut the needle with a wire cutter (this can be tricky and you might lose one haha) then stick it in where you want. Also, if you don't do the nail polish trick, the eyes will look dull and have a factory-made line across them (depending on the kind you get.) Its good to make a bunch in case some go flying when you cut them. You might want to try working with your hands inside of a plastic/large ziploc bag so if they do go crazy they'll just be in there.

    Sorry for my rambling ;D