Category Archives: Crafts

How to preserve a squirrel paw

What you need:

  • Squirrel paws (duh)
  • Dish soap
  • Towel
  • Hair dryer
  • Container, no lid
  • Plain salt


  1. Rinse each paw under warm water and rub in dish soap to clean the fur of any blood, dirt, or grime.
  2. Dry each paw with a towel as much as possible
  3. (Optional) Blow-dry with a hair dryer to speed up the drying process
  4. Fill the bottom of the container with a thin even layer of salt
  5. Gently place the paws in the container, in a single layer.
  6. Cover completely with salt
  7. If you have a batch of squirrel paws to preserve, repeat steps 5 and 6, layering the paws and salt.
  8. Keep container in a dry place, out of reach of pets or children.
  9. Check the container once per day. If you notice salt clumping up, that is because it is absorbing moisture. If there are too many salt clumps then you may have to refresh the salt by emptying the container and repeating steps 4-7.
  10. After a week, check the container to ensure that paws have completely dried out.

The wonders of denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol, or methylated spirits, is a wonderful compound that has a wide variety of uses including fuel for camping stoves and as a paint stripper in a pinch. But it also serves many uses in the world of squirreling.

As an astringent

Submerging any part of a squirrel’s skin, including the tail, in denatured alcohol will cause the follicles to contract, locking in the squirrel fur.

As a cleanser

Can be used to kill bacteria, fleas, and ticks from squirrel pelt.

As a preservative

You can submerge squirrel pelts, tails, and limbs for a long time and remove them from the liquid for later preservation.

See How to preserve a squirrel tail.

How to preserve a squirrel tail


You will need:

  • A container long enough to hold your straightened squirrel tail
  • A squirrel tail
  • Lots of salt

Cut the tail from the squirrel.

Remove any excess meat attached to the tip of the tailbone.

Prepare a container to dry out the tail by covering the bottom of the container in salt.

Place the tail in the salt.

Pour salt to completely cover the tail.

Place in a dry, warm location for a week, or when tail has completely dried out.

Bones can be sold to Mepps for 16-26 cents each:

Bone removed

You will need:

  • 1 squirrel tail
  • Sharp knife
  • Pliers

Begin by using just your fingers to expose as much of the tailbone as possible.

Peel back a section of the skin of the tail. Using your knife, gently scrape between the skin and bone to coerce the skin off the tailbone. Rotate the tail and repeat until enough bone is exposed to grip with pliers (about 1-2 inches).

Firmly grip the exposed bone in the pliers in your dominant hand. Using your non-dominant hand, grip the base of the exposed tail and pull apart firmly with steady pressure. The tailbone should slip right off.

Discard the tailbone and soak the tail in a solution of 50% water, 50% denatured alcohol for at least 48 hours. This will tighten up the hair follicles on the tailbone ensuring that the hairs cannot be easily pulled out.

Remove from the alcohol solution and rinse thoroughly with running water. Apply shampoo and conditioner as you would your own hair. Towel dry, then blow dry as much as possible.

Lay the tail flat on a dry towel, and the tail should be fully dried and preserved within a week

Note that this process is similar to that of preserving a fox tail:

Squirrel products

Besides squirrel meat, you can use all parts of a squirrel to your own liking. Here is some inspiration


Squirrel skulls are a popular way to preserve part of the animal. As squirrel heads are not generally eaten, they often go to waste but this doesn’t have to be the case.

See the article How to make a squirrel skull.


For fishing, squirrel tails provide the best hair, according to Mepps. In fact, Mepps will buy your tails for a few cents apiece.

See the article How to preserve squirrel tails.


Full skeletons often sell for hundreds of dollars and are very laborious and time consuming to extract, assemble, and articulate.


Taxidermy is an art that requires considerable skill and should not be performed by a beginner amateur. However, the results can be quite stunning and lifelike.


Squirrel pelt can be used to make pouches, wallets, and other small trinkets.

How to tan a squirrel pelt.


The paws and feet of a squirrel, which are usually cut from the body before skinning, can be dried in salt or borax and made into earrings, necklaces, or other decorative items.

How to make a squirrel skull

Most squirrel hunters do not eat the head of the squirrel, but that doesn’t mean it needs to go to waste. Making a skull is a very simple process that will teach you about squirrel biology and is fun for the kids too!

If you haven’t done so already, dispatch the squirrel and remove its head from its body with a sharp knife.


  1. 1 or more squirrel heads, removed from body. Skin does not need to be removed prior.
  2. Container or pot large enough to fit all heads.
  3. Water
  4. Stove or sous vide machine
  5. Small screwdriver
  6. Kitchen gloves (optional)
  7. Hydrogen peroxide


The process of making skulls consists of four major steps: boiling, cleaning, reassembly, and bleaching.


If you have a sous vide machine:

  • Vacuum pack the squirrel heads into bags. If you don’t have vacuum bags, place the heads in a Ziploc bag and remove as much air as possible.
  • Fill the container with water
  • Set sous vide to the following settings: 160F (71C), 16-24hr
  • Completely submerge the bag of heads in the water
  • After the sous vide timer is up, remove the squirrel heads

Without a sous vide machine, boiling can be done over a stovetop:

  • Fill pot with water, heat to a boil
  • Place the heads into the pot, ensuring that all heads are completely submerged
  • Turn down the heat so the water simmers right at boiling temperature
  • Leave the head(s) in the boiling water for a minimum of 20 minutes, no more than 45 minutes. For especially small heads, I recommend no more than 30 minutes. If you boil a head for too long, the skull may split along its joints.
  • Using a pair of tongs, take the heads out of the pot and rinse thoroughly in cold water


If the squirrel heads are still hot, we recommend a pair of kitchen gloves for the initial steps.

  • Peel off the outer skin with your thumbs, rinsing under cold water as necessary.
  • Carefully peel the muscle away from the bone. If boiled properly, the muscle should easily separate. If this is not the case, return the head to a boil for a few more hours.
    • The nose cartilage may come off of the skull at this point. This is normal. Save it for later if you wish to reassemble the skull.
  • Dislocate the bottom jaw from the top jaw. The bottom jaw itself may come apart into two symmetrical pieces. Remove any meat from the bottom jaw and set aside
  • Insert the screwdriver into the brain cavity through the back of the head, and swish around under cold water to break apart the brain. Do not use heavy force. Shake the skull to dislodge parts of the brain from the cavity.
  • Insert the screwdriver through the nose, and carve away any remaining soft tissue. Do not use heavy force.
  • Any remaining soft tissue can be removed by hand, or with the screwdriver.

Reassembling your skull

The skull will come apart in the cleaning process so you may wish to reassemble it.


  • Skull pieces (upper head, lower jaw halves, nose cartilage pieces)
  • Toothpick
  • Styrofoam board, can be bought from an arts&crafts store such as Michaels or JoAnn
  • Superglue or adhesive

Start by gluing the two jaw halves together:

  • Dampen one half of the jaw (doesn’t matter which one)
  • Affix the jaw half to the styrofoam board by its base
  • Place one drop of super glue on the inside of the other half of the jaw where the incisor tooth meets the bone.
  • Affix the jaw half to the styrofoam board, while maintaining the correct position for both halves of the jaw
  • Check for the correct fit by placing the skull on top of the jaw. The molars should line up, and the upper incisors should overlap just in front of the lower incisors. Adjust the lower jaw halves as necessary.
  • Let sit for 24 hours or as long as indicated by your superglue instructions
  • Lift the jaw from the styrofoam

If either part of the squirrel’s orbit is missing, it can usually be pieced back together simply by reinserting the dislocated orbit piece into its original location. In some cases you will need super glue to affix the bones together.

You will need to reassemble the nose cartilage, usually this can be done simply by reinserting each half of the nose firmly into its original slot. Some super glue may be needed if too much bone material has fallen out.


Bleaching whitens the squirrel skull, and this step can be skipped if you wish to retain the skull’s natural color. You will need:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide
  2. Skulls, cleaned
  3. A container to submerge the skulls
  4. Tongs

Place the skulls in the container and pour hydrogen peroxide in the container, covering all skulls. Wait 24 hours. Use tongs to remove and wash hands immediately after removal.