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

Alligator Head Smell

Discussion in 'Reptile Taxidermy' started by Seawulff, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Seawulff

    Seawulff New Member

    I have recently purchased an alligator head and it has a strange potent smell. Is there something i can do to get the smell out of it. A soak, another coat of sealer maybe. Not sure if the smell is a bad job on the head or the chemicals used in the process. Any ideas?
  2. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    Submerge it is denatured alcohol for a month, and maybe it'll get the smell out. Gift shops here sell them that have been treated that way, and they use floral marbles as eyes...really crappy work. The smell on your head is probably coming from material in the nostrils and under the upper palette. They do not remove the upper palette, and there is a ton of meat and cartilage under it. While you have it hydrated, order some decent eyes and replace the marbles, if that's what was used.

  3. Seawulff

    Seawulff New Member

    That is exactly what I bought. So put it in a bucket of denatured alcohol for a month. Does that cure the flesh left in it?
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    It will preserve it better at least and kill off any lurking bacteria. You didn't say what sort of prep it was, if any. Is this something from a shop? Skin on with those marble eyes? It sort of sounds like it is. Is the smell an odor of decay or is it a chemical smell. It is possible that this was soaked in formaldehyde and that will take a while to fade. A lot of these are imported and there aren't many that are done well.
  5. He said strange potent smell.

    Im guess Formaldehyde , as well. If so if will dissipate over time.
  6. John Galt

    John Galt New Member

    Can someone chime in on a similar situation- poorly done alligator head- it's like 20 years old now, my friend just gave it to me and I remember when he got it.

    It's funky, covered in the back with black tar-like paint.

    I just scrubbed them down and cleaned them up and was thinking I would either spray them with primer and then an application of glow pigment at the back (glow stuff is my specialty)

    I'm not going to soak them for fear of ruining them... one is quite large.

    I snipped off any obvious 20 year old gator jerky but my wacky daughters want them in their rooms and they smell when you get your nose 3" away.

    Is this a viable solution?
    My other thought was to scrub again with Hibiclens which has lasting antimicrobial and fungal properties before priming the back and maybe palate before adding a layer of glow pigment.
  7. Good luck with that head, you're pretty much stuck with a bad head, once the smell penetrates the bone only time will tell, this is a common problem with inferior preservation techniques, alligators are very specialized and requires special cleaning and tanning.
    Good luck.
    joeym likes this.
  8. CaptnC

    CaptnC Member

    Been registered for a while. I used to run a small shop out of my garage. 30 mounts a year maybe...but that was 15 years ago.

    Getting back into after I retired in December...mainly because wife keeps shooting stuff that she wants mounted.

    I know...where is this character going with this?

    She also killed an alligator this past September. I just "did" the head (skin on) and have been in shock there is no smell!

    It's been about a week. I left the upper palate but cleaned out the back of the skull all the way to the eyes. If my scalpel was sharper I could have taken the eye out the back.

    I soaked it in Kosher Sea Salt (which I thought might have been a mistake). I have always used Dan Chase stuff (before his law suite) but i used his dry preservative inside the skull then packed it with paper mache mixed with plaster of Paris so it would set faster. Painted a coat of 2nd Nature Reptile Tan on it and out it in the garage. Set the gator eyes after that.

    I live outside Houston Texas, the garage faces west so it gets very toasty inside.

    If it's not been done in formaldehyde I'm thinking to rehydrate it in a brine solution then clean the head out, re-soak it in the brine.

    Then basically redo it from there!

  9. CaptnC

    CaptnC Member

    Here's what it looks like
  10. John Galt

    John Galt New Member

    My only concern would be that insects always "find a way " and my biggest issue was actual dried meat stinking.

    The spray paint primer seemed to remedy it 90%. When I apply the glow paint (email me at [email protected] if you need the best in any color of the rainbow)
    I'm confident that any exposed dried flesh will absorb the primer and at least be unappetizing for bugs.
    Plus spray paint gets in every tiny spot.
    I did white because that's what is required for glow paint, but if you want something more natural there are so many options for paint embedded with graphite, metal (copper is naturally a killer of bacteria, mold, fungus, viruses etc.) Or just enamel.
    I think that's the secret- once covered with 3 light but thorough coats, there's a barrier to insects and odors.
    I might even consider grinding up some Seachem Matrix activated carbon between coats, which will definitely prevent odor.
    Also mine was dried for 25-30 years so at least dehydrate first.
    Mine don't give off any odor unless you are literally sticking your nose in. Definitely doesn't make the room smell and we have no central AC, so it gets 85°+ some days.

    Let me know what you do and how it turns out.
  11. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    If you can smell anything when you bury your nose into it, insects can detect that smell from hundreds of feet away from it. A dog turd can be battered and fried, yet still, beneath the crust, is a dog turd.
    George likes this.
  12. John Galt

    John Galt New Member

    That's a good point if you live somewhere with anything that can get at it. I don't.
    I can't think of anything in NJ that would be a problem. Flies and mice couldn't take advantage of 30 year old dried up mummified remains, nor could ants.... we don't have roaches or dermastid beetles...

    But unless an invasive pest, I don't think it matters. The family dog? Might chew on it, that's a more realistic concern.

    Anything else would simply be eating away at the problem.

    Semi-related: I used to keep chameleons. I tried blue bottle flies. 3 ..
    THREE ! Escaped.
    A month later thete were maggots an inch long dropping down in the laundry room. When I removed the drop ceiling tile, there were a dozen spread out over a 20 foot area..BUT they had eaten all the mouse dookie from the ceiling tiles. It was so thorough I seriously considered letting them loose in another area. (I didn't).
    Point of that it might help if something ate the fleshy parts.
    Would dermastid beetles eat the skin too or maybe just any leftover meat? The cheapest and nicest skull I ever had done from a deer hunt came to me with a dead freeze dried couple of dermastid in it.
    Place in Montana I think did it, that was the method they used.
    No prep required! You just had to wtap the head in plastic and mail it
    For $50-75 they took care of the rest and sent me back a beautiful white skull with no damage to the antlers. Didn't even have to freeze it!.

    At the post office (maybe it was UPS )"Anything liquid, fragile, perishable?"
    Me: "Well, it's already perished, but yeah..."