Squirrel Study Skin
By Rick Seymour
1) Freeze specimen to eliminate lice, fleas, and reduce body juices.
2) Measure total length.
3) Stick first pin on center line of drying board at nose.
4) Make sure head is flat and measure from tip of nose to last vertebrae on tail, mark this spot with 2nd pin.
5) Record total length (A).
6) Measure and record tail length (B).
7) Measure and record heel to tip of nail (C).
8) Measure and record height of ear (D).
9) First incision: cut with "X-Acto" knife/razor from anal area to base of neck or the chest area.
10) Cut between skin and inner skin sheath holding organs, thus avoiding intestines, etc.
11) While cutting, pinch skin but don't hang onto one area too long.
12) Ripe specimens will fall apart easily, fur can fall off with little pressure.
13) Salt Water Bath: Add non-iodized salt to small glass of water until salt is no longer absorbed.
14) As you work, use salt water bath on skin and cavity area to lessen blood flow, and to dislodge meat.
15) Work your way over to the hind knee joint.
16) Use scissors to cut knee joint.
17) Trace outline of leg muscles on paper to later judge outline of cotton muscle form.
18) Remove meat from leg bones.
19) Tail: use forceps to hold ( ? ) loosely, then pull tail-bone through forceps like "Chinese handcuffs".
20) Use probe to isolate tail bone from connecting tissues.
19) ?? (lay specimen on stomach, head flat).
20) ?? (very slowly, using almost no pressure).
21) Wash body with luke-warm water and baby shampoo.
22) Blot dry with paper towels.
23) Roll in corn meal, turn inside out and repeat.
24) Sawdust recommended by some as more inert and less attractive to pests, but causes inhalation problems.
25) Blow corn meal off pelt using compressed air.
27) Mix 8 parts borax to 2 parts alum in water.
28) ie: 1 heaping "teaspoon" to 1/4 heaping "teaspoon" in 4 oz. (?) water.
29) Alum tightens skin, can help reduce fur loss on ripe specimens.
30) Brush alum onto inside of pelt.
31) Mending buckshot holes: make elliptical hole around round shot hole, sew shut.
32) Pull thread over paraffin to make waxy coating, helps reduce dry-rot and lubricates thread.
33) Make knot at end of thread.
34) Lips: sew through middle of lips, working toward one end, then repeat working toward other end.
35) Use baseball stitch with odd number loops.
36) Wire: cut wire for tail a couple inches longer than tail vertebrae.
37) Cut leg wires about twice as long as leg bones.
38) Dull both ends of tail wire.
39) Sharpen one end of each leg wire (?)
40) Tail wire: apply "Elmer's" glue about an inch from far (sharp?) end of tail wire.
41) Pull cotton into thin "sheets" and "weave" onto wire.
42) Some people coat cotton with borax powder before inserting in tail.
43) Bend end of wire to use as a handle while inserting into tail cavity.
44) Leg Wires: Lodge leg wire into ankle bone.
45) Turn leg right-side out to test that wire is lodged and won't slip, piercing through skin.
46) Hold wire against leg bone and turn inside-out again.
47) Wrap leg bone and wire together using thread.
48) Glue and wrap cotton around wire & bone to size of outline sketch (#17).
49) While inside-out for the last time, coat inside of leg pelt with preserving solution.
50) Body Cavity: Fill using body-length pieces of cotton, not balls of cotton, which cause ridges while drying.
51) Stuff with tweezers, stuffing irons, etc.
52) Pinning: Mount nose on center-line of drying board.
53) Size of red-squirrel mounting board: 6"X 16"
54) Pins used: "Super Steel Sonomor (?) Pins
55) Line up front paws, using a line 90 degrees to the center line.
56) Use toothbrush to brush fur into position.
57) Dry for a month.
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Last modified: August 20, 2012.