The practice of taxidermy is both a science and an art. It is a science because it involves preserving a dead organic body using different chemical treatments; it is an art because it consists in making the specimen as life-like as possible with only the skin and body to work with. Initially, the practice involved stuffing the sample with fillers such as rags and pieces of cotton and arsenic as the primary preservative. However, modern-day taxidermy utilizes an array of styles based on the kind of specimen being worked upon.
Types of Taxidermy Mounts
A mount refers to the taxidermy animal that has been preserved and is kept or mounted over a surface known as a manikin. Mounting a taxidermy specimen depends on the type of animal a taxidermist worked on, and regardless of how long it takes, the processes are usually the same. The animal to be mounted over the manikin must be dead and frozen solid, and the taxidermist has to determine which part is to be mounted, whether the head or the whole body of the animal. The following are the modern types of taxidermy mounts:
The Shoulder Mount
This is the most common kind of mount used in the U.S and is used primarily for deer. Just as the name implies, it features the animal’s skin and head down its sternum and comprises skin from just below its shoulder. The method allows owners to display their trophies in a way that preserves the beauty and expression of the animal in its natural state while maximizing space.
The Full Body Mount
This is the most difficult of all mounting techniques, and it involves mounting the entire animal in a way that captures its natural aura in real-life. This method is preferred when there is plenty of spaces and funds to execute. It, however, has the advantage of reproducing a life-like scene, attained through a mix of pose manipulation and type of base.
This mounting technique involves preserving the animal while removing its internal organs, leaving only the visible tissues intact. After that, the animal is then positioned in a life-like form and supported where necessary. The animal is then kept in a customized machine designed to freeze-dry it without damaging its body. A snake could be stored in the act of striking prey or a bird with its wing out.
The European Mount
This is also known as the skull mount and is regarded as a cost-effective and easy style of taxidermy mounting. It earned its European mount title due to its prevalence in Europe. The mount is made up of the skull and antlers or horns of the animal where applicable. It involves preserving only the head of the animal and keeping its skin and hair in their original state.
Reproduction mounts are designed to simulate the animal’s exact look without using its body. They are also used to simulate endangered species of animals that are difficult to mount in the flesh. The mounts are made of resin or fiberglass and are primarily used in zoos and museums.
Mounts are meant to look natural in whichever setting they are placed in and not merely occupy space. It is essential to do adequate research before deciding which mounting style to utilize. Take into consideration the kind of specimen, available space for mounting, and the required taxidermist.