Skinning a Snake

Somehow or other, I was tasked with skinning a snake because, well.... just because. Anyway, this is the process that I followed.

Gather Some Supplies

  • Female Rattlesnake: this girl was roadkill and has spent a few months in a friends freezer
  • Hella sweet Buck knife: this was the prize at a facial hair competition in Willits, California during the Kinetic Carnivale. Thanks Sideburns!
  • Practice Chanter: If you are going to cut up a dead animal, you might as well play it a few tunes out of respect.

Off With Its Head

Did I mention that this was a rattlesnake? The head of a rattlesnake has a mouth, and in the mouth are fangs, and those fangs have venom that can kill a human.

one more time... those fangs have venom that can kill a human. Don't fuck with rattler fangs.

With the scissors on the hella sweet utility tool that I received as a holiday gift (thanks mom), I began cutting down the belly of the snake.

All Skinned

Not just skinned, but gutted as well. When cutting the belly, try not to go too deep into the snake or you might rupture the internal organs, and you don't want to get snake gut flora all over the place. blech.

The snakes body looks mangled on the right because that is where the car tire ran over this specimen.

At this point I still have to remove the skin from the 'tail' that is beyond the anus. While skinning that bit, I couldn't help saying "eh-neus" a few times.

Fleshing The Skin

It should be called "de-fleshing". After peeling off the skin, there will still be a bit of flesh and muscle on the skin. To remove this stuff, scrape a knife blade across the skin a few times.

On the left is "fleshed" skin.

Get Some More Supplies

Actually, I had these supplies well before I started this project, but taking a picture of the stuff that gets used is always a good thing.

Rubbing alcohol and glycerin can be purchased at your local pharmacy, and really, who doesn't have at least one empty peanut butter jar just sitting around waiting to be used?

Mix It All Up

After the rattler skin was placed in the jar, equal parts rubbing alcohol and glycerin were added to the jar. To make sure the snake skin stayed submerged, I added a small rock on top of the skin.

Did I mention that apple wedges with peanut butter is one of my favorite snacks? Well it is, and I have far too many empty peanut butter containers.

The skin needs to stay in the jar for at least three days, and the jar and its contents needs to be shaken once or twice a day.

Nom Nom Nom

It tastes like rabbit, but is leaner and needs to be tenderized. My marinade of beer and tapatío didn't do enough to soften the meat. The next snake I get is going into a crock pot for a long slow cook.

If the scissors cutting the skin during the initial skinning process go too deep, the intestines may rupture and contaminate the meat; don't let that happen.

Three Days Later

The skin was removed from the curing solution, rinsed off, stretched out, and pinned to cardboard. Once pinned appropriately (scale side down), the skin was given a generous coating of glycerin and then set up in a cool dry place until the skin was no longer wet to the touch.

All Done

It took another another three days for the skin to finally dry.

If anyone can explain to me how the alcohol and glycerin mixture cures the skin, I would greatly appreciate the knowledge. From what I gather, the alcohol opens the skin cells and the glycerin replaces some of the water in the cells; but I could be very wrong.

The next time I skin a snake, I'm going to use a sharpie to draw a line down the belly before I do any cutting. There was one spot where I went way off and I'd like to keep everything even next time.

Now quit reading, and go look for some roadkill.

2014-01-13 Alison Chaiken:
Didn't the carcass stink? I can't imagine getting past the smell.
2014-01-13 mcnalu:
I promise, that after being intrigued by this post, I will skin the next snake I run over... but don't hold your breath.
2014-01-13 jezra:
Alison, there was no stink, because there was no decomposition of the body.

mcnalu, there are snakes in your neck of the woods?
2014-02-13 ghostDancer:
Impressive , it was like watching some kind of documentary , thank we don't see many snakes where i live , probably too cold. One day i have to try snake meat. Although i think is not easy to find , much less here.
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