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Tanning a snake hide.

Discussion in 'Reptile Taxidermy' started by AndrewFromSoCal, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. AndrewFromSoCal

    AndrewFromSoCal New Member

    Alright guys. I have been agonizing over this for MONTHS. I have a friend who raises high end ball pythons, and he has had some breeders die, who now live in my freezer. I have been pouring over as many sources as I can find (here, youtube, taxidermy books, what-have-you) to try to figure out the best method. I CANNOT, for the life of me, find a method which most people agree on. I was hoping to use the hides for leather working projects (likely backed by leather, wallets, knife sheath, etc), and don't necessarily want a wall hanger. I'd like to have something soft and pliable if possible, like my mammal wall hangers.

    Anyone with experience that can comment on...well, anything..would be greatly appreciated.

    Rittel's: The pros seem to be that it is easy and readily available, though I have heard they come out very crispy, and fade hugely over time.

    Salt: That doesn't make sense, but it has been seen.

    Anti-freeze came up a lot in past posts on Taxidermy, though I cannot seem to figure out why. Is it the alcohol in the mixture? Does it prevent insects? I don't get it.

    Alcohol + Glycerin: this seemed the most attractive method, at first, though I have seen people complain that the glycerin leaks out in the heat, or if compressed. I don't want a hide that ends up being a gooey mess.

    I was wondering, is it possible to use a tanning kit such as that from Cumberland's, or The Tannery, meant for furbearers?

    Uhg. Help. Please. I need this stuff answered. Thank you in advance!

  2. I use straight glycerin. Skin and flesh the hide using a hacksaw blade to flesh the skin. Pin it out on a board. I use a along piece of balsa wood because it is very easy to pin to. Then brush on a coat of glycerin. It will soak in in about an hour or two. Brush on a second coat. This will take 2-3 days to soak in. You can stop here unless you feel it needs a third coat. If you put a third coat on, it may end up with some puddles left over even after a week. If you have any that has not soaked up, just dry it off with a paper towel. This will leave your skin soft and pliable forever. I have skins I did 35 years ago using this method that are still as soft as the day I did them. They will not fade either. I just did about 20 snakes a couple months ago using some fresh glycerine I got off eBay. I've made hat bands using these skins. I backed them with some soft leather and glued the skins to the leather. Still have one I did many years ago.

  3. AndrewFromSoCal

    AndrewFromSoCal New Member

    Thanks a lot for your reply! With the glycerin method, have you noticed the skins oily still after some time? I read a few posts stating you could push glycerin out of the skin far down the road. The last thing I want is to sit on a wallet and have a huge glycerin spot on my pants. Thanks!
  4. rogerswildlife

    rogerswildlife Rogers Wildlife Taxidermy Tommy Rogers

    Glycerin will stay oily I wouldn't recommend that for craft . Pickle with a vinegar pickle and tan . Rittles works really good and if you buy the snake tan kit it has specific directions for pytons . You have to scale them after you pull them out of the tan . Maybe Bruce Rittle will chime in and confirm this .
  5. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    I tanned a 20 foot Python skin with Rittel's Snake Tan for a guy who wanted to make a vest. Came out great. You could also send the skins to a regular commercial tannery, but I would call them for answers to your questions before sending them. And yes I did scale the skin. Good luck, JL
  6. AndrewFromSoCal

    AndrewFromSoCal New Member

    Thanks for the replies guys!

    I have thought about sending them out before, but thought it would be cool to try it myself. I'll try to find some roadkill (sometimes we have dead rattlers out) to try the Rittle's on.
  7. Rocker0For0Life

    Rocker0For0Life New Member

    Can the glycerine method be used for all reptile types?
  8. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    Knoblochs/Bruce Rittel makes a snake tan that works great. In every taxidermy supply catalog. Its like $20.
  9. JuJu Bee

    JuJu Bee New Member

    I tan snakes the same way I tan all skins....with Lutan. The only difference is getting the scale coverings off. Pickle shave tan oil break.