We went to the Laurel last week and met with a woman who had just killed this snake. I have no idea why, it was really small and non-threatening, but you know some people just can’t let things that freak them out slither away. So, I asked her if she was going to use it, and she gave it to me.
I’ve never done anything with a dead snake before, but when my pocketknife failed to produce the desired effect, I decided to use scissors. Worked like a charm.
Once I got the skin split down the length of the snake, I gutted it. It was pretty much just like gutting a fish, much easier than a chicken for sure.
After I cut off the head, I worked the skin off at that point and it was really easy to peel it off the rest of the snake. If it had been a bigger snake I might’ve decided to eat the meat, but it looked like it would really be more trouble than it was worth.
So, I already knew that I could preserve snakeskin with glycerin and alcohol, both of which are common household items for me…I have glycerin for soapmaking purposes, but I understand that it is quite pricey if you don’t buy it in quantity from the soap supply. Anyway, after a quick online search I found that you can use isopropyl alcohol, it doesn’t need to be denatured, so we were good to go. It’s a half and half solution. I just eyeballed it, I didn’t measure. I poured the isopropyl in first and then the glycerin. This is my attempt at a picture showing the two before they became one.
Hey! you can see where the line was. Well, sort of. I think the white line is the top of the counter as refracted (is that what I mean? someone will tell me) in the liquid, but you can clearly see there is some swirly action there in there. I think if I had waited, the two substances would’ve made a uniform substance on their own, but I stirred them up.
So, at first the skin bobbed out a little, so I wrangled it down with a skewer. After it soaked up some of the solution it was okay, so I put the lid on the jar and waited three days.
We went for a nice long hike at Mill Ridge one of those days.
We saw these butterflies mating, too, and I had to snap a picture. I’m surprised it turned out so well.
After three days we get to stretch the skin. I was surprised at how it really has to be stretched. It was wiggly and puckered.
All that I had to do now was pin it down and work more pure glycerin into it.
So now I have to wait until tomorrow, and then it’s supposed to be finished, according to everything I’ve read about it. I am thinking of making a choker necklace from it, since it is not a really big skin, but I would like some other ideas if you have any. I’d like to have it completed before I go to the Firefly gathering so I can show it off to my fellow primitive skills enthusiasts. I am really excited about this! so if you see a dead snake in the road or something, I’d love to have it. I know only a true friend who really really loves me, or someone who’s just as much of a weirdo, I guess, will pick up roadkill for me, but if it’s a big enough snake to use it’s vertebrae as beads, I’ll make you something pretty with them. Promise! I haven’t proceeded to other forms of road kill yet so, hold off on the possums and raccoons for now. If you see a fox, though, I might just accelerate my learning for one of those. Yes, I know they spell possum with an o at the beginning but that’s just wrong.