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preserving rattlesnake skins

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by brighamr, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. brighamr

    brighamr Well-Known Member

    Hello All,

    I figured this would be the best place to post this question. I have recently began rattlesnake hunting. Yes I am hunting for them. Why? Because there are way too many around my house, and with the 7 different critters I own, I don't want them around. In addition, the meat isn't half bad and is actually a nice change in diet.

    So here's my question: How do you tan/preserve rattlesnake skins? I've tanned deer and elk hides, but I don't have a clue as to snake skins.

    Any help or recommended books would be appreciated!
  2. blkbrd666

    blkbrd666 Well-Known Member

    Oh man!...I've been wanting to grill or fry some and can't FIND one around here. There's a lot of step-by-step info on the Internet if you Google it.

    Just Google " tanning snakeskin ".
  3. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Well-Known Member

    the tanning stuff i got from cabelas says it will do snakes i think
  4. B.D. Turner

    B.D. Turner Well-Known Member

    Of the poison snakes in the lower 49 states North Carolina has them all.
  5. brighamr

    brighamr Well-Known Member

    I've been googling. I'm a fan of primitive tanning, thus the query here. Pretty much everything I've found on the web is there to sell the websites tanning product, which I really don't want to use.

    So, any options for primitively tanning a reptile skin?

    I've heard that scraping the flesh off and drying in the sun is good enough for snake, but I'm trying to make a hatband with this one and don't want to over dry it...
  6. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Well-Known Member

    The one's I've done I've simply stretched and dried them - they're thin enough to dry completely and there's been no tissue to scrape off. When dry I mount it them to a piece of tanned leather using a cement suggested by a leather shop, I believe the brand was Barge cement (it's kind of a rubber cement). Held up pretty good as hatbands anyway.

    The skin peels off quite easily, and I just stretched them directly onto a paper sack or newspaper (they kind of self stick due to the membrane), then when dry they pretty much peeled back off.
  7. 472x1A/B

    472x1A/B Well-Known Member

    When trapping season starts here in Ill. theres always one or two guys that will ask me to tan a deer or coon or mink,or some thing. Every tanning solution I've ever used you can do any animal/reptile skin. I've been doing this for over 15 years, and have used at least 20 differnt brands. The most imporant step is to soak the skin twice as long as what the instructions say and USE NON IODIZED salt. If you use iodized salt ( table salt ) it won't work, belive me.
  8. Rottweiler

    Rottweiler Well-Known Member

    I used a product sold by Tandy Leather called "Rep-tan" or something like that back in high school to tan a snake skin. Worked well, Mom tossed it when I left home for the military, along with 2 shoe boxes of baseball cards that today would probably be worth a new truck. Yep, they still sell the stuff http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/products.asp?number=22046-00
  9. K3

    K3 Well-Known Member

    Even Western Diamondbacks and Trans-Pecos Copperheads? ;)
  10. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 Well-Known Member

    My only experience with this is close to what was mentioned above.

    Skin, dry, rubber cement to leather backer, cut to fit.
  11. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Well-Known Member

    LOL- that's a good catch.

    I wrote an article about venomous (not poisonous!) snakes in western NC last year and was very surprised to find the number of different venomous species in NC. And, that the timber rattler has been found as far north as Maine!
    Love the eastern diamondbacks, man. But, boy there are some big ones in eastern NC.

    anywho, if you want to use the hide for a hatband, I would use a commercial tanning product that will give you more guarantees. Traditional tanning methods work, but require some practice and know how. It'd be a shame to ruin a rattler hide.
  12. blkbrd666

    blkbrd666 Well-Known Member


    All the snakeskins I have done have been just skin, scrape, soapy water wash, scrape again, soapy water wash, stretch, and dry. Sometimes clear scales will shed later, sometimes not.

    I have heard of some people using antifreeze on the hides and drying. Others use glycerine or oil tan, but I wouldn't recommend those if you're planning on using an adhesive later rather than sewing...won't stick.

    Most say, "Never use salt on a snakeskin". I would agree, just make sure to scrape all flesh away from inside.
  13. brighamr

    brighamr Well-Known Member

    blkbrd - thanks. I was researching this all day yesterday... pretty darn funny what you find online :)

    I chose to do it simliar to the way you describe. I think it turned out decent, but will be better once I get it glued to some left over buckskin.

    Thanks all for the tips and suggestions!
  14. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Well-Known Member

    bd lucky us right
  15. brighamr

    brighamr Well-Known Member

    Just in case anyone wondered, or wanted to try this, I went the old school (aka cheap) route.

    kill and skin rattler. Tack down to flat board (I used about 30 tacks to really stretch it out). Flesh the belly side with a dull knife, but be careful as it will rip easy. Dry out completely.

    Use 100% pure neetsfoot oil (buy it anywhere saddles are sold). Rub the oil on both sides a few times, let dry. Use hide glue or elmers wood glue to glue the snake hide to stiffer leather (I used buckskin). Cut to size, and your done.

    Really, this was the easiest tanning job ever. Compared to buckskins (which take multiple weeks), this was easy and fun. Try it!
  16. ltetmhs

    ltetmhs Well-Known Member

    Ive done several using 3 different ways. The first one was a copperhead and I spent about an hour scraping it then dried it w/ salt.. bad idea. The thing came out stiff as the board it was tacked on. I tried to soften it over another board, but it didn't really ever soften. Also, after a week or two, the color got very dull.

    The second one I tried was a cottonmouth. That is the only cottonmouth Ive ever tried to preserve, b/c I determined that cottonmouths are not that good looking. So now when I kill them turkey hunting or bowfishing, I leave them lay. I coated him in antifreeze and set in shade for a day or so. rinsed it off, and dried it, It came out quite nice, but I wouln't mess with these hell beasts again ( I am deathly afraid of snakes anyways).

    I have also just scraped them and tacked them up. No chemicals. Came out fine for wall, but wouldn't use for hatband. I think for a hatband, anti-freeze will do a good job. Ive seen chemicals do fine but if you want to be very traditional, just scrape till your arm falls of and set outside.

    Good Luck.
  17. rr2241tx

    rr2241tx Well-Known Member

    I've made a lot of belts covered in tanned snake hides. Usually unnecessary to scrape the flesh side if you take your time peeling it off the body. The pattern will come out better if you let it draw up a little as it dries. I usually use uniodized mixing salt from the feed store, but borax laundry detergent also works and gives it a little insect resistance as well. Spread a generous amount on the flesh side and roll as you go until the whole skin looks like a roll of canned biscuits. It will be completely dry the next day. Brush off the salt and rinse in clear water. Rub off the clear scales. Brush the flesh side with neatsfoot oil and give the scale side three or four coats of neatlac to seal the scales down and give them a nice finish. Rubber cement will stick the hide to the backing of your choice. Lap to the center for better adhesion if you're not going to lace the edges. Roll the glued hide with a rubber brayer to be sure it has 100% contact. For a hatband you will need a snake about 2 1/2 feet long from the back of the head to the vent. If you want to leave the rattles on, be real careful skinning past the vent as the hide is firmly attached there and tears easily if not helped along with a sharp blade. Don't leave your hat where your dog can get at it after you put your new hatband on.


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