Common Taxidermy Techniques in Practice
March 13, 2022

Taxidermy is the artistic and scientific practice of storing animal bodies through various chemicals. The word “taxidermy” originated from two Greek words, “taxis,” which stands for arrangement, and “derma,” which means flesh. The practice was developed to help preserve animals discovered during various scientific expeditions, such as by Charles Darwin and James Cook. The method has, over time, grown to gain widespread acceptance, as it is now commonplace to find taxidermy specimens , known as mounts , a dorning homes.

Benefits of Modern Taxidermy

Most natural history museums contain various collections of mounts utilized for scientific purposes. The practice has been used to preserve animal species for advanced studies. The significant benefits of taxidermy are highlighted below:

• Taxidermy is vital in preserving animal species that would otherwise be lost to extinction. While the taxidermy specimens stored are usually dead animals, it helps to maintain them in their original and pristine state, allowing others to interact with such specimens.

• It helps advance various scientific methods to discover viruses in animals.

• Taxidermy specimens hold decorative values as they can be used to adorn the interiors of houses.

• Taxidermy products known as mounts have economic utility as they can be sold for profits.

Methods of Taxidermy

The techniques used in the taxidermy process differ and are majorly based on the kind of animal, the kind of preservatives to be used, and the taxidermist’s preferences. For instance, while mussel shells and snail shells do not need any special treatment and most insects are merely dried, preserving vertebrates usually requires complex techniques. The methods of taxidermy include the following:

1. Alcohol Preservation

This is the most straightforward taxidermy technique, and it involves placing the entire animal in a preservative solution comprising alcohol. This technique is used chiefly for amphibians, fish, reptiles and rarely for birds and mammals. The benefits of this method are that the entire specimen can be preserved. Also, tissues preserved with this technique can be utilized for long periods of genetic research (DNA).

2. Dermoplasty

This is regarded as the most prestigious of modern taxidermy techniques. It uses the skin and other original parts of the animal like the antlers, teeth, and skeleton to create a 3D version of it. The process requires professional knowledge about the animal because it involves detailed craftsmanship to produce such taxidermy specimens.

3. Skeletal Preservation Method

Skeletons offer essential information about the stature and shape of an animal and are often exhibited in museums like the skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct animals. This method of taxidermy involves removing all the tissues from the specimen down to the bones. It is usually executed by licensed taxidermists who place the animal in an enzyme solution and then remove the tissues.

4. Pelt

This involves removing the animal’s skin, drying it, and tanning it for display. This technique is used for mammals and birds and is preferred because it helps preserve an animal’s color in its original state, is easier to carry out, and takes up less space.

Taxidermy procedures require the services of experts who are knowledgeable as to the practice. Each method depends on the needs of the taxidermists and the specimen in question. The technique also varies from one animal to another.