The Art of At-Home Taxidermy: An Unconventional Way to Work from Home

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
A dear mount, Taxidermy

In a world where remote work has become more prevalent than ever, many are exploring unconventional ways to earn a living from home.

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One such path is the intriguing art of at-home taxidermy.

However, venturing into this niche field requires not only a unique set of skills but also a thorough understanding of the ethical, legal, and practical aspects involved.

Understanding the Basics of Taxidermy

Taxidermy, a riveting combination of art, science, and craftsmanship, has a history seeped in intrigue and fascination that spans centuries.

This intricate craft, often misunderstood, plays a vital role in the preservation and study of natural history and allows us to develop a deeper understanding of the natural world.

A Brief History of Taxidermy

The art of taxidermy has its roots firmly grounded in the ancient world. From the mummification practices of Ancient Egypt to the specimen collections of Renaissance Europe, the preservation of animals has always held a unique place in human culture.

The Victorian era, with its fascination for exotic wildlife and natural curiosities, propelled taxidermy into the mainstream, where it was a staple of museums, educational institutions, and even home decor. Today, taxidermy continues to play a significant role in natural history studies, museum displays, and wildlife conservation education.

Different Types of Taxidermy

Taxidermy isn’t just about mounting hunting trophies. It’s a diverse field with numerous styles and techniques, each offering a unique perspective on the preservation of life.

Traditional taxidermy, primarily used for museum exhibits and education, involves creating lifelike, full-body mounts of animals in their natural poses. Trophy mounts, on the other hand, are popular among hunters and usually feature the head of the animal, often a deer or elk.

Rogue taxidermy, or ‘taxidermy art’, is a recent trend that blends traditional taxidermy with fantasy and surreal elements, creating pieces that are as much about artistic expression as they are about preservation.

Another form, called ‘anthropomorphic taxidermy’, involves posing animals in human-like settings or clothing. This whimsical style was popular during the Victorian era and has seen a resurgence in contemporary art.

The Art and Science of Taxidermy

Beneath its exterior as an art form, taxidermy is a detailed, scientific process that demands an in-depth understanding of anatomy, sculpting, painting, and tanning.

A taxidermist’s work begins with the careful examination of the animal’s anatomy, followed by meticulous skinning and preservation. Sculpting forms the backbone of the mount, where the taxidermist recreates the animal’s shape and musculature.

Tanning is necessary for preserving the skin, while painting brings the mount to life, accurately representing the animal’s colors and patterns.

Additionally, taxidermy requires an understanding of the animal’s natural behavior and habitat to recreate lifelike poses and settings. This marriage of art and science is what makes taxidermy a unique profession – one that celebrates life, acknowledges death, and immortalizes the beauty of nature.

Learning Taxidermy: Where to Start

Taking your first steps into the world of taxidermy can be overwhelming, given the depth of skills and knowledge required.

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A blend of formal education, hands-on practice, and continuous learning from various resources can provide a strong foundation for your journey.

The Importance of Formal Education and Training

While it’s possible to learn taxidermy through self-study, it’s often beneficial to start with a structured learning environment. Formal education in taxidermy provides a systematic approach to learning the craft, with expert instructors guiding you through each step of the process.

Several institutions and professionals offer taxidermy courses and apprenticeships, providing invaluable hands-on experience. For instance, the British Academy of Taxidermy offers a wide range of courses, from beginner’s basics to advanced techniques.

An apprenticeship under an experienced taxidermist can also be an excellent way to gain practical knowledge and hone your skills.

Recommended Books and Online Resources

There’s a plethora of resources available for those who prefer the self-learning route or wish to supplement their formal education.

Books like “Stuffed Animals: A Modern Guide to Taxidermy” provide a comprehensive guide to modern taxidermy techniques. Other books like “Taxidermy Art: A Rogue’s Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself” delve into the more artistic and unconventional aspects of the craft.

Online platforms also offer a wealth of information and community support. Websites such as provide a hub for both aspiring and experienced taxidermists to share knowledge, discuss techniques, and offer advice.

Additionally, video tutorials on platforms like YouTube offer a visual guide to various taxidermy processes.

Legal and Ethical Considerations of At-Home Taxidermy

Entering the taxidermy field means navigating a complex landscape of laws and ethical considerations.

Understanding Laws Related to Taxidermy

Taxidermy laws vary significantly across regions. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with local and international regulations governing wildlife trade and taxidermy.

Ethical Considerations in Taxidermy

While taxidermy is a celebration of nature’s beauty, it should not contribute to the harm of wildlife populations. Adhering to ethical sourcing practices is a responsibility every taxidermist should uphold.

Sourcing Specimens Responsibly

When sourcing specimens, always choose ethical options like roadkill, natural death, or legal hunting. Organizations such as The Guild of Taxidermists offer guidance on ethical specimen sourcing.

Setting Up Your At-Home Taxidermy Studio

Transforming a part of your home into a fully functional taxidermy studio is a significant step in your journey. From choosing the right space to investing in essential tools and prioritizing safety, careful planning and preparation are key.

Choosing a Suitable Space

The first step to setting up your at-home taxidermy studio is choosing a suitable space. You’ll need a well-ventilated area with plenty of natural light, as proper lighting is crucial for detail-oriented work like taxidermy.

A space with easy-to-clean surfaces such as tile or concrete flooring is also advisable.

Consider your storage needs as well. You’ll need space to store specimens, both prepped and finished, as well as a wide array of tools and materials.

If possible, choose a room with cabinets or shelving, or consider adding additional storage solutions.

Essential Tools and Materials

A taxidermist’s toolkit is an assortment of various tools and materials designed for precision and efficiency. The basics usually include scalpels, brushes, needles, and wires.

Tanning solutions and preservation chemicals are also necessary, along with sculpting materials for form-building.

Specialty suppliers like Van Dyke’s Taxidermy offer a wide range of taxidermy tools and materials, suitable for both beginners and professionals. As you advance in your craft, your arsenal of tools will naturally expand, catering to your growing needs and expertise.

Adopting Safety Measures

Working with animal specimens necessitates strict hygiene practices and the use of protective gear. Wearing gloves, eye protection, and a respirator can protect against potential infections or disease transmission.

Mastering the Taxidermy Process

With your studio set up and ready, it’s time to delve into the meticulous and rewarding process of taxidermy.

Step-by-Step Guide to Taxidermy

Taxidermy is an involved process that demands attention to detail at every stage. From skinning and preserving the specimen to sculpting the form, mounting, and final detailing, each step requires care and precision.

Several resources provide detailed walkthroughs of the taxidermy process. Books like “The Complete Guide to Traditional Taxidermy” offer comprehensive instructions and advice.

Online platforms like have a wealth of tutorials and guides, often accompanied by images or videos.

Key Techniques and Tips

The art of taxidermy encompasses various techniques, from skinning and fleshing to tanning, mounting, and airbrushing. Each requires patience, precision, and plenty of practice.

Experiment with different techniques, learn from your mistakes, and continuously seek to refine your skills.

Remember, every taxidermist has their own approach and preferred techniques. What works for one might not work for another. The key is to find methods and routines that work best for you.

The Importance of Patience and Precision

Taxidermy is a slow, meticulous art form that rewards those who approach it with patience and a keen eye for detail. Each step in the process, from the initial preparation to the final touches, requires time and care.

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Rushing can lead to mistakes and subpar results. Remember, the beauty of taxidermy lies in its attention to detail – your commitment to precision can transform an ordinary mount into a lifelike masterpiece.

Building a Successful At-Home Taxidermy Business

With skills honed and a studio ready, it’s time to take the leap and turn your taxidermy passion into a profitable business. From drafting a solid business plan to effective marketing and overcoming challenges, success requires a mix of strategic planning, patience, and perseverance.

Crafting a Business Plan

No successful business starts without a roadmap—a clear, comprehensive business plan. This document should outline your business’s goals, identify your target market, and lay out your strategies for reaching your customers and making a profit.

As you craft your business plan, consider the specifics of the taxidermy industry, such as your competition, your pricing structure, and your plans for sourcing specimens.

If you need help getting started, resources like the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Plan Guide offer invaluable advice.

Marketing Your Work

Effective marketing is key to establishing your brand and attracting customers. Fortunately, taxidermy lends itself well to visual marketing.

Social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest can be excellent places to showcase your work, offering potential clients a glimpse of your skill and style.

Consider participating in local craft fairs, art shows, or hunting exhibitions—these events provide opportunities to display your work in person and engage with potential customers.

Online platforms like Etsy or eBay can also help reach a wider audience.

Overcoming Challenges

As with any business, running a taxidermy operation comes with its own set of challenges. Sourcing specimens in a legal and ethical manner is one of the biggest hurdles you might face.

It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with relevant local, state, and federal laws regarding wildlife trade.

Legal restrictions and ethical considerations aside, finding a reliable source of high-quality specimens can be a challenge in and of itself. Consider building relationships with local hunters, trappers, or breeders to establish a consistent supply chain.

Financial management, client communication, time management—these are all common challenges that small business owners face. Stay flexible, remain open to learning, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help when needed, whether it’s from a business mentor, a tax advisor, or a legal consultant.

Remember, every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.


The art of at-home taxidermy offers a unique opportunity to work from home, embracing a career that combines artistry, craftsmanship, and a love for nature.

It’s a path that requires dedication, patience, and a deep respect for wildlife.

But for those who pursue it, taxidermy can provide a rewarding and fulfilling career right from the comfort of your own home.

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