Taxidermists prepare skins of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish to create life-like 3-D representations for display in museums, or as trophies and memorials. The skin (including fur, feathers or scales) is removed from the specimen, preserved using various methods, and mounted on an artificial frame. Taxidermists in museums also prepare specimens for study, research and collection purposes. They may employ the technique of skeletal assembly to demonstrate the structural and anatomical features of a specimen.
Duties & Tasks
Taxidermists may perform the following tasks:
- take measurements and note features of specimens before mounting
- reproduce specimens by moulding and casting with a variety of materials including plaster, polymers, plastic, fibreglass and polyurethane foam
- remove and clean skin and treat with preservatives
- place skin on a model to reproduce the exact size and shape of the specimen
- preserve and prepare skeletons through the use of chemical and non-chemical treatment
- pose small animals and preserve them by freeze-drying
- prepare native and non-native animals for special exhibits
- prepare and preserve biological material for museum displays
- collect and preserve foreground material (plant, soil and leaf litter) for creating natural environments for diorama displays
- maintain exhibits and specimens.
Taxidermists may be employed by museums as preparators or exhibition project officers, who also create museum exhibits, including models and habitat displays.
- enjoy natural history and animal anatomy
- artistic interests such as sculpture, painting and drawing
- good observation skills
- good dexterity with tools and equipment
- woodworking or carpentry skills
- patient and careful
- attention to detail
- good hand-eye coordination.