Ethically Sourced. We hear that term often in the oddities community. But what does it mean to be ethical in taxidermy? Ethics are subjective and vary greatly from person to person. To remain "ethical" is to stand by your personal ethos. When buying specimens it is important to make sure your ethos align with the businesses that you support. That is why you will often hear us refer to our specimens as "sustainably sourced" while outlining what that means exactly in our ethics policy online.
As important as ethics are in sourcing it is also extremely important to follow wildlife laws. Wildlife laws regulate the trade of flora and fauna and they are extremely important to the biodiversity of our earth. There are so many different laws around collecting and selling specimens. These laws vary from state to state and they are changing frequently. Lets touch on some really important things
You need permits for any specimens listed on CITES if buying or selling internationally. What is Cites? CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
If you are buying specimens internationally that are not listed on CITES you need an import/export license. This is a big one that is often overlooked but can lead to some hefty fines.
Almost all native species of birds are protected by the MBTA (migratory bird treaty act of 1918). The MBTA implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada, Russia, Japan and Mexico. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory bird species. Any species listed on this list are illegal to possess even if found post mortem. You cannot collect their feathers, eggs or nests in addition to their physical remains. If it is a songbird, native or migratory it's more than likely illegal.
Roadkill is legal to collect in almost all states; however a lot of states require a salvage permit. It is best to always contact your local Fish and Wildlife department to find out the laws for your state. It is also important to make sure you are wearing gloves when collecting roadkill as a lot of animals carry harmful diseases. Especially deer.
If you want to learn more about collecting and processing sustainably check out our Bone Processing class.
Meet our beetles! Dermestids eat the flesh of deceased animals. This is an in process shot of our colony processing a cat.
Once the flesh has been removed the bones will need to go through a degreasing and whitening process done in house by our taxidermists.
If you have browsed our website you may have come across an assortment of "unmounted" insects and asked yourself, what does unmounted mean? Unmounted insects are specimens that have not been relaxed and pinned for display. They often come in a folded piece of wax paper. In this state they are super fragile and need to be handled with care.
Well how do I mount an insect? There are many many different ways to mount insects. I am going to discuss the process that I use. First step: relaxing. Take your specimen to the park for a nice stroll, maybe a massage, or to your local taco Tuesday hot spot. While those are all pretty relaxing the only one you will be doing is massaging your specimen and thats not till part two.
Relaxing an insect is simply restoring moisture inside the brittle specimen post rigor mortis. With smaller insects I use a quick, easy and accessible method of relaxation with items from your household!
To create a "relaxing chamber" you will need a tight sealed Tupperware container and a handful of paper towels. Simply layer specimens between wet paper towels (wet but not WAP wet) place the largest insect on the bottom and smallest on the top layer. If you have larger specimens that will need to be in your chamber for more than two days, add a few drops of 70% isopropyl (or moth crystals) to prevent mold growth.
Some people use sand, and others sponges. There really isn't a wrong way, the goal is to restore moisture while not compromising your specimen.
Check your specimens in 24 hours. If you can move your specimens legs easily without them breaking they are ready for mounting. Beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, etc., take a bit longer than butterflies. But it largely depends on size.
Check back in for part two. Mounting insect specimens and part three mounting insect specimens via needle injection.
Did you know that we teach classes in person and a select few online?! Browse our class section through the link below.
We can't wait to make beautiful things with you :)