Taxidermy Skinning Preparing And Mounting The Mamm 93

When a quadruped is killed, and its skin intended for stuffing, the preparatory steps are to lay the animal on its back and plug up its nostrils, mouth, and any wounds it may have received, with cotton or tow, to prevent the blood from disfiguring the skin. The fox will serve admirably our purpose as an example. Therefore, Reynard being procured, we need not say how, lay him on his back in the same position as before recommended, and having first stuffed the mouth with cotton and tied it up, and measured his neck and body with rule and calipers, and noted them, proceed. Make an incision from the last rib nearly to the vent, but not quite up to it. Having done so, proceed to raise the skin all round the incision as far as the thighs, first skinning one side and then the other, using the flat end of the knife in preference to the blade to raise the skin. Having reached the hind legs, separate the latter at the femur or thigh-bone, close to the back-bone, leaving the legs attached to the skin. Now skin the head quarters close up to the tail, and separate it from the body at the last vertebrae, taking care not to injure the skin. Pull the skin over the heads of the hip-joints, and now the carcase may be suspended by the hind-quarters, while the skin is stripped by pulling it gently and cutting towards the fore-quarters. The fore-legs are separated from the body, as the hind ones had been, close to the shoulder-bone, and the skin fairly pulled over the head and close to the nose, when the head is separated from the body by cutting through the last vertebrae of the neck. Reynard is now skinned, the head, legs, and tail being all attached to the skin, from which the carcase is separated.

The flesh is now cut entirely away from the cheek-bones, the eyes removed, the brains taken out by enlarging the occipital opening behind the cranium, the whole cleaned and supplied with a coating of arsenical paste and stuffed with tow or wool to the natural size.

The legs are now successively skinned by pushing out the bones and inverting the skin over them until the foot-joint is visible; every portion of flesh and tendons must be cut away and the bone cleaned thoroughly, and a coating of arsenical soap laid over it as well as the skin. Wrap tow, or cotton, or any other suitable material, round the bone, bringing it to its natural shape, and draw the skin over it again. Do this to each leg in succession, and the body itself is ready for stuffing and mounting.

The utmost care will not prevent accidents; the fur and plumage will get sullied, and before stuffing it is well to examine the skin, for stains and spots are calculated to deteriorate its appearance. Grease or blood-spots may be removed by brushing over with oil of turpentine, which is afterwards absorbed by dusting plaster of Paris over. Macgillivray recommends that all skins, whether they are to be put away in a cabinet or stuffed, should receive a washing of spirits of turpentine sprinkled on, and gently brushed in the direction of the feathers or fur. Not to trust too much to memory, it is desirable to measure and note the proportions of the animal before skinning, first taking the muzzle to the tail. Afterwards, from the junction of the tail to the tip. Secondly, from the middle of the shoulder-blade, or scapula, to the articulation of the femur, or thigh-bone. Thirdly, the animal being placed on its side, measure from the upper part of the scapula to the middle of the sternum - that is, to the spot where the two sides meet above, and finally from the socket of the scapula to the socket of the articulation of the femur, or thigh-bone. In addition to these, note, by measurement with caliper compasses, the size of the head, the neck, the tail, and other points which affect the shape of the animal. These measurements will serve as a guide in stuffing, and for the size of the case and length of the mounting wires. In the process of skinning, it is important to avoid penetrating to the intestines, or separating any of the abdominal muscles which lead to the intestines; any such accident would be very disagreeable, as well as injurious to the skin.

Stuffing Quadrupeds, etc. Let us suppose the animal which we intend to stuff, to be a cat. Wire of such a thickness is chosen as will support the animal by being introduced under the soles of the feet, and running it through each of the four legs. A piece of smaller dimensions is then taken, measuring about two feet, for the purpose of forming what is termed by stuffers, a tail-bearer. This piece of wire is bent at nearly a third of its length, into an oval of about six inches in length ; the two ends are twisted together, so as to leave one of them somewhat longer than the other; the tail is then correctly measured, and the wire is cut to the length of it, besides the oval. The wire is then wrapped round with flax in a spiral form, which must be increased in thickness as it approaches the oval, so as to be nearly equal to the dimensions of the largest vertebrae, or root of the tail. When finished, it should be rubbed thinly over with flour paste, to preserve its smooth form, which must be allowed to dry thoroughly, and then the surface should receive a coating of the preservative. The sheath of the tail must now be rubbed inside with the preservative. This is applied with a small quantity of lint, attached to the end of a wire, long enough to reach the point of the tail-sheath. The tail-bearer is then inserted into the sheath, and the oval part of the wire placed within the skin of the belly, and attached to the longitudinal wire, which is substituted for the vertebra} or back-bone.

Four pieces of wire, about the thickness of a crow-quill, are then taken, which must be the length of the legs, and another piece a foot or fifteen inches longer than the body. One end of each of these is sharpened with a file, in a triangular shape, so that it may the more easily penetrate the parts. At the blunt end of the longest piece a ring is formed, large enough to admit of the point of a finger entering it; this is done by bending the wire back on itself a turn and a-half, by the assistance of the round pincers. On the same wire another ring is formed in a similar manner, consisting of one entire turn, and so situated as to reach just between the animal's shoulders. The remaining part of this wire should be perfectly straight, and triangularly pointed at the extremity.