What is taxidermy?
The word taxidermy originates from the greek “taxis”, meaning arrangement, and “derma”, meaning skin. The definition is, “the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals with lifelike effect.”
Where do you source your animals?
We try to source as ethically as possible. Many of our specimens are either found roadkill, or nuisance animals that we receive from farms. Our insects are collected from the forest floor when they die natural deaths. Some specimens we collect **
Where did you learn taxidermy?
I attended the Missouri Taxidermy Institute, they now offer 4 week and 8 week long taxidermy courses.
What are dermestid beetles?
Dermestidae are a family of Coleoptera that are commonly referred to as skin beetles. They are often used to clean skeletons for museum preparation, but they are also pretty common to find in your own home. If you have larvae capsules or fine dust under your bugs or taxidermy you are most likely looking at a dermestid infestation. Don’t worry, they are not horribly harmful except to your specimen collections, but they can spread from one cabinet to another or from mount to mount and they definitely deteriorate mounts and insects quickly. The best treatments/preventatives are: freezing the specimen for two weeks, or surrounding/rubbing it with borax, (you can find it in your local grocery store in the laundry aisle) or using some chemical treatment spray (Mount Saver). Keep in mind that old taxidermy mounts purchased from vintage stores, etc, probably need to be treated in some way before they come home to your shelf.
Do you guys offer beetle cleaning?
We do not offer it here in Charleston, but we do have capabilities of sending out your skeleton to be preserved by beetles.
How do I clean/preserve/whiten this skull/skeleton?
Keep in mind that any “meat” left on the bone is fair game for dermestid infestation. It’s best to clean it yourself using knives and scrub brushes before you take the next step. Leaving a skull or skeleton in the sun or in the forest is the best way to clean it, but remember that animals often drag things away to munch on. I suggest building a wire box for your specimen, and letting nature take it’s course. Alternative ways to clean a skull are to use a 100% hydrogen peroxide bath (switch out daily for a week) or boil the skull. Both of these methods are pretty gross… and are not recommended. I have used the HP bath for small skulls like mice and voles, and it’s much easier on the skull than boiling.
How do I whiten the skull so it looks clean?
You may use a bath of water with a capful (or two) of bleach if you need to- I prefer to leave my skulls unbleached so they look more natural. Be careful not to leave it in for more than a few days, replacing the water and bleach solution daily.
Can I keep this dead bird/bird feather/bird nest?
You cannot keep any portion of a bird that is protected under the SC migratory bird regulations. The birds that are legal to bring to a taxidermist are starlings, chimney sweeps, and domesticated animals like roosters and farm raised pheasants. No taxidermist can mount a bird that is protected. Refer to http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/migratorybird/migratorybird2015-2016.pdf for more information on SC migratory bird laws and permitting.
What’s the best way to preserve an insect?
Most insects are just fine if they are totally dried out. Caterpillars and huge beetles with lots of guts don’t do so well unless they are freeze dried. You can rehydrate insects and pin them for museum style mounts. This is one of the services we offer.
How do you tan your skins?
We typically tan our own skins using a wet tan purchased from Mckenzie Taxidermy, but when we outsource that task to achieve a dry tan/gallery tan, we use H&H fur dressing.