If you’re wondering how to do snake taxidermy, you’ve arrived at the right place.
In this post, I hope to cover everything you need to know on your journey to kill, skin, and mount a snake for taxidermy.
This post is divided into 4 sections
- How to kill a rattlesnake for taxidermy.
- How to skin a snake for taxidermy.
- Snake taxidermy full mount procedure.
- How much does snake taxidermy cost?
How to kill a rattlesnake for taxidermy
You first try to pin your snake down with a stick to catch it. Once you’ve done this, grab it by the neck with your other hand and kill it by forcing a jackknife into its mouth and severing the backbone just at the back of the head.
Just try to make sure you’re not cutting through the skin. This is one of the most painless ways to kill a reptile, wait a few minutes till motion stops.
Before we begin, if you’re not sure what you’re going to need, I have a huge list of taxidermy supplies here.
How to skin a snake for taxidermy
The correct way to skin a snake is to split it through the entire length from the side. Once you’ve done this, lay it back and remove the body from the skin.
This way you will be able to skin the snake without losing any scales. Once you’re at the bony head use scissors to cut it out, there’s no other way to do it.
A snake sheds its skin by breaking it at the neck, it then crawls out of the old skin and into a new one. You can skin a snake in exactly the same manner but don’t!
You CAN technically make a slit on the throat and draw out the body from the skin but you will loosen all the scales this way, which is not good for taxidermy, so avoid it.
A snake is one of the easiest animals to skin. It is much easier to skin one than to kill one.
Snake taxidermy full mount procedure
I recommend making the body before you skin the snake, this way you can visualize how you want it to look before you get started.
Mounting a snake usually requires 2 wires, one goes in from the head, through the vent, and through the skin. This provides support, make sure it’s large enough to hold the snake in position.
You will then use the other wire to twist it around the one above. We want to make sure that the wire is smoother than the specimen. Remember, the smoother the coil, the better the final specimen will be.
Firmly wind this wire form with tow and bend it appropriately, after bending, it should be in exactly the same shape you want the snake to occupy.
We will cover it with clay before we put the skin on.
Once you’ve covered it with clay, put the skinned snake on top of the manikin. The body should be exactly the length of your specimen.
I know it’s tedious but the finished product is completely worth it. Put careful attention while your covering the body up, make sure you don’t destroy the body in any way.
Once it’s all covered up you can fasten it on a temporary board with a wire, adjust the coils and make sure there are no humps across the work.
As you can see in the featured image of this post, the eyes of the specimen must have vertical pupils, this is common across all reptiles. There’s multiple ways to do it, you can either get pre made ones from your local taxidermist or get proper size of clear glass and color them yourself.
Once the specimen is dry, wax the underside where it is visible. If the color of your serpent has started to fade then you might have to retouch the specimen with oil paint.
Stuffing a snake
There’s an alternative way to fill up the reptile too, which is by filling it up with sand or sawdust. You can do this by starting at the tail and sewing it up as you go through the body.
I recommend bending the body as you go along as it might get difficult once it’s completely filled without harming it.
Overall I recommend going with the wire approach as it’s much easier, beginner-friendly, and produces great results.
How much does snake taxidermy cost?
Mounted snakes can go from anywhere between $300 to $1000+. It completely depends on the type of snake and the person selling it.
That’s it! Hope you found this guide helpful. Let me know about your experience or if I missed anything in the comments section below!