Skinning. In skinning serpents there is some nicety required, to cut them so as not to disfigure the scales; the opening should be made in the side, commencing at the termination of the scales; and they should on no account be divided, as upon their number the species is mostly determined.
It is a very frequent practice to send home serpents without the head, which renders them quite unfit for any scientific purpose. This proceeds from the fear of receiving poison from the fangs. But there is not the slightest danger of being affected, as these can easily be cut out by means of pincers. The head should be cleaned and the brain removed, in the same manner as recommended for birds and quadrupeds, the skull anointed and then returned into the skin.
When the skin is removed, it may be rolled up and packed in small space. The simplest way to preserve small species is to put them in spirits, which must not be too strong, as it will destroy the colors.
Mr. Burchell, in his four years' journey through Africa, glued the skins of the smaller serpents perfectly flat on paper, which preserved the size of the animal, and the skin retained all the beauty of life.
Stuffing. The skin, if not recent, must be first softened in the manner recommended for birds. A piece of wire is taken, the length of the animal, which must be wrapped round with tow till it is of a proper thickness, and above the whole a spiral band of sliver should be carefully wrapped. It is then placed inside of the skin, and sewed up. The eyes are placed in, as directed for quadrupeds and birds. When dry, give the serpent a coat of varnish, and then twist it into any attitude wished. A favorite and striking one is to have it wound round some animal, and in the act of killing it.