Alcohol preservation

The easiest method is to fully immerse the object in a preservative solution, typically alcohol (denatured ethanol 70%). Objects are initially treated with formol, a fixing solution which prevents tissue decay and autolysis, before placement into the preservative. Sensitive organisms such as jellyfish are to be treated with a fixing solution first. Formol is however toxic and after a few days is to be replaced with ethanol. The advantage of using alcohol is that the whole organism can be preserved. Such a technique is generally used for fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Individual birds and other mammals are placed in alcohol, initially younger ones. Alcohol causes fading away in natural colors although they lose their colors after the first few hours of after death. Exhibits preserved in alcohol are considered unattractive but vital for researchers.



Pelt is the term used to describe a skin which has been removed from the dead animal and tanned. Such technique is commonly used for birds and mammals. Important information is present on the pelt of hair and feathers. These exhibits form an essential part of bird and mammal collections. Pelts allow animals to sustain their original colors making this method desirable for objects desired for display. Another added advantage is the fact that they require less space compared to stuffed animals and are relatively easier to produce than dermoplastic exhibits.


Both full and partial skeletons require the tissue to be separated from the bones. Once the object has been placed in a maceration solution or enzyme solutions, the taxidermist then removes the tissue from the bones. The last step involves letting the skin beetles feed on the skeleton as they clean all tissue residues from the bones in a matter of weeks. Skeletons and bones vital for research purposes are merely kept in appropriate containers whereas those destined for display are mounted back into the original form of the animal by availing supporting elements.



Dermoplasty paves the way for three-dimensional reconstructions of the entire animal. The beginning point is always the preserved skin or the pelt taken from the animal. In some instances, the original parts of the animal such as teeth, hooves, and antlers are used. Until a few decades ago, animals were stuffed with a range of materials such as hemp, straw, moss, etc. which resulted in not lifelike exhibits. Today, however, artificial skeletons are tailored to individual species and body size to form a frame over which the skin is stretched. Wood wool and cotton wool are used to make fine adjustments to the body shape. In the previous days, arsenic was availed to prevent insects eating the skin, but today it has been replaced with Eulan, which is a mixture of two compounds used in the textile industry to destroy parasites. The most modern zoological taxidermy technique without a doubt is dermoplasty.