How to Clean Your Taxidermy

How to Clean Your Taxidermy
Image: Lifehacker / YouTube

“I know a lot of people think you’re quirky,” my dad told me, “but I need you to know that you’re just a redneck.” This comment came shortly after I sent him a picture of the newest addition to my taxidermy collection, a mule deer mount my boyfriend gave me for my 32nd birthday.

It is my second deer mount. My first is seven-point, white-tailed deer named “Jimothy,” and he is one of my most prized possessions. My father shot (and ate) him in Mississippi when he was 17 years old, and his head and upper torso hung in my grandparents’ hall until my grandfather passed away, at which point my grandmother decided she was tired of his (Jimothy’s) company.

My dad then moved Jimothy into his home, but was forced to keep him in the study, as Jimothy didn’t really “go” with the rest of the decor in the house. I was in college at the time — and had no decor to speak of — so I asked my dad if I could give Jimothy a place of honour in my Gainesville apartment. He has been with me ever since (and my sisters have been plotting to steal him for years).

In my mind, Jimothy exists somewhere between pet and art, but that’s only because my mind is a little weird. Taxidermy is art and, like any piece, it should be handled with care, cleaned regularly, and hung in an environment that does not contribute to its decay. Caring for taxidermy is pretty easy — you just have to know and follow a few simple rules, which I have (kindly) laid out for you in the below video.

I demonstrate my methods using Jimothy and a chipmunk named Clyde, but the same basic principles apply to taxidermied birds and fish as well. Just remember: When in doubt, dust or wipe in the direction of feathers, scales or fur (just how you would pet them, were they not dead), and stay away from using oil and pretty much all solvents (except for a little Windex while cleaning the eyes). Follow my advice, and your little friends will most likely outlast you.


  • Damn, anyone who thinks killing an animal and stuffing it to mount on their wall is an ethical or right thing to do is seriously mentally damaged. Taxidermy is most definitely not art, nor is it sane. There’s a reason the vast majority of people find it repulsive…

    • A lot of taxidermy work involves beloved pets have that have died!!
      No killing, no shooting. Some taxidermists like myself refuse to work with animals, inc. fish, that are killed for sport or as a trophy.
      Taxidermy IS definitely art. You only have to see the disasters resulting from amateurs attemps to know it is highly skilled work.

      • Hate to break it to you HMac, but anyone who wants to stuff and mount a pet that they supposedly loved has a serious psychological issue. I can’t think of anything more disturbing than to have the dead, stuffed skin of an animal I loved staring back at me with fake plastic eyes. It’s about as screwed up as it gets, really.

  • I am not going to troll here. But what is this article targetted to? Lifehacker has always had great articles on productivity and life in general. Now we are talking about how to care for the animal you hunted down and hung as trophy? This is blatant disregard for the animals you care about. What is next? How to care for your elephant tusk ivory set? Or how to get bear bile for your balding head?

  • Most taxidermists actually work with beloved pets that have died as well as animals that died naturally both in the wild and from zoos etc.
    Quite a few of us will not work with ‘trophy’ animals, inc fish!!

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!