Preserving Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Skin

Introduction

Meet Freckles…the cutest pug I’ve ever seen.  Freckles belongs to our 4H Extension Agent Tanya Binafif.  On November 17, 2021, Freckles was sniffing around in a natural area close to the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County and came within an inch of his life.  Freckles encountered a huge eastern diamondback rattlesnake.  For the safety of our visitors and pets, the rattlesnake could not remain alive on our public site.  FWC discourages moving rattlesnakes unless you have a license.  In this blog I’ll be explaining how we spent six months preserving this eastern diamondback rattlesnake skin.

Meet Freckles the Pug
Meet Freckles the Pug. Photo Credits: Tanya Binafif, UF/IFAS

Fortunately, I have plenty of experience extracting eastern diamondback rattlesnakes from the bushes on our campus in rural western St. Lucie County.  My tools included a snake grabber, S-hook and Kevlar snake boots.  Freckles was safe!

Snake Hook
Snake Hook. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS

 

Kevlar Snake Boots
Kevlar Snake Boots. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli

Preserving Rattlesnake Skin

Now that the people and pets were safe, we made a decision to tan, preserve and mount the snake skin.  It was a process that we spread out over six months.  The head was removed for safety purposes and the skin was carefully removed from the internal organs.  We took time to remove as much of the connective tissue as possible using sharp knives.  We then rolled up the snake skin and placed in a plastic bag in the freezer until we had time to work with it properly.  In March 2022, we thawed the snake skin and meticulously removed the remaining connective tissue to avoid rot and odor.  This particular snake had 10 rattles which were carefully disconnected from the rattlesnake skin and kept in a dry place for safekeeping.

Cleaning Rattlesnake Skin. Photo Credits: A. Rezazadeh, UF/IFAS

The cleaned rattlesnake skin was then submersed into a glass container containing 50/50 blend of glycerin and 70% isopropyl alcohol for one week.  It was agitated (stirred up) at least twice a day to make sure the preservation solution coated the entire snake skin.

Preserving Rattlesnake Skin
Preserving Rattlesnake Skin. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli

After Preservation

Afterwards, the rattlesnake skin was removed from the preservative solution and wrapped around a short pvc pipe.  The remaining preservative can be kept for future projects.  The rolled snakeskin was then hung to dry for a few days.  The snake skin remained pliable and any excess preservative was dabbed off using a paper towel.  The rattles were snapped back onto the snake skin.  When the snakeskin is ready for mounting, we plan to apply baby oil to the skin to make it shiny and tack it to a wooden plank.  This will then be added to our display “Artifacts of Extension.”

Preserving Rattlesnake Skin
Preserving Rattlesnake Skin. Photo Credits: G. Ricketts, UF/IFAS

Acknowledgement

Much thanks to Mike Hardiman for thoroughly researching this preservation process.

Additional Resources

For additional information, please contact Natural Resources Extension Agent Ken Gioeli at ktgioeli@ufl.edu.

Recognizing Florida’s Venomous Snakes. UF EDIS

Dealing with Snakes in Florida’s Residential Areas – Identifying Commonly Encountered Snakes. UF EDIS.

Managing Conflicts with Wildlife: Living with Snakes. UF EDIS.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With offices in each of Florida’s 67 counties, UF/IFAS Extension works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

UF/IFAS Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sexual orientation, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

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Posted: April 11, 2022


Category: Agriculture, , Home Landscapes, Natural Resources, Wildlife
Tags: Dog, Kevlar, Rattlesnake, Snake, Venom


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