How to Cure Snake Skin

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Preserve the rich color and interesting texture of a snake skin by learning how to properly cure it.
Preserve the rich color and interesting texture of a snake skin by learning how to properly cure it. (Image: AndreaAstes/iStock/Getty Images)

Unlike most animal hides, which require several weeks and a series of differing submersions, snake skin is fairly quick and easy to cure, or tan. From start to finish, a snake skin can be cured and ready for display or use in less than one week. Chemicals used to tan the skin are also less harsh than those typically used for leather or other animal hides, although proper precautions should still be taken. The key to success is removing as much flesh as possible without damaging the skin before beginning the curing process.

Things You'll Need

  • Airtight container with lid
  • Wooden stick or spoon
  • Glycerin
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rubber gloves
  • Knife
  • Clean cloth

Scrape away as much muscle, fat and tissue from the skin as possible, taking care not to damage or puncture the skin. The cleaner the skin when you begin, the quicker and easier it will cure.

A scraped skin.
A scraped skin. (Image: PlazacCameraman/iStock/Getty Images)

Mix together one part glycerin and one part rubbing alcohol in the container. You will need enough to completely cover the snakeskin.

Mix glycerin with rubbung alcohol.
Mix glycerin with rubbung alcohol. (Image: isak55/iStock/Getty Images)

Loosely coil the snakeskin so that it will fit inside the container.

A coiled snake.
A coiled snake. (Image: ricul/iStock/Getty Images)

Push the snakeskin into the glycerin and alcohol solution. Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin and use a clean wooden stick or wooden spoon to help push the skin completely under. Make sure it is completely covered by the solution.

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. (Image: Ramonespelt/iStock/Getty Images)

Place an airtight lid on the container and set it in a cool, dark place.

Stir the solution and the skin gently once each day.

Remove the skin from the solution at the end of the third day.

Rinse the snakeskin thoroughly in fresh, cool water.

Scrape away any remaining flesh or tissue, taking care not to damage the skin.

Rub a thin coat of glycerin on the inside of the skin.

Hang the skin in a cool, dry place for one day.

Wipe away any remaining glycerin with a damp clean cloth and then dry with a soft clean cloth. An old T-shirt works well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store your finished snake skin in a dry cool place and out of direct sunlight. A skin in direct sunlight will lose its color and begin degrading, even if it has been properly cured.
  • Don't roll the skin too tightly or try to squeeze several skins into the solution. It needs plenty of room in the container to properly cure.

References

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