Is It Weird to Taxidermy Your Pet?

Specializing in quality dermestid beetles

Macaw parrot. A closed up details of a taxidermy bird of macaw parrot species.

When most people think of taxidermy, images of animal skulls and skeletons may come to mind. Indeed there are services that can clean and return a pet’s skeleton or preserve a body part. Pet taxidermy is also taking other forms as alternatives to burial, cremation, or even disposal in nature after a beloved animal passes away. Freeze-drying is a perfect example.

The question is, will a traditional taxidermist agree to work on your pet? Is such a request just too weird? That depends on their point of view. Many work on bones and not faces, so they may refuse your request simply because they can’t guarantee perfect results. However, companies that specialize in freeze-drying are often glad to help.

What Is Freeze-Drying?

To freeze-dry a pet, first their organs are removed as is most of their fat. Preparation takes several hours. The bones and fur remain and are flash preserved. Since taxidermy generally refers to creating a three-dimensional replica of the animal, freeze-drying can be considered a subset of taxidermy. In fact, people have mounted the actual skin of creatures on frames for years; in some cases, man-made materials are used to reproduce an animal.

Most pet owners don’t want their preserved pet to look like it has been stuffed. Freeze-drying yields more lifelike results. It is accomplished by placing the carcass in a sealed vacuum chamber at an extremely low temperature. Meanwhile, moisture is removed to prevent decay. The remains are left to dry out, which can take five months for a small dog and up to a year for a larger animal.

Why People Choose Pet Preservation

Many pet owners find the sight of their dead animal unacceptable, while others prefer not to let go. To them, there’s nothing weird about having their deceased pet “frozen in time.” There are people who see it as a way to keep what they had.

Pets have been revered by people since classical times. Today, they’re often considered a family member. In western society, while it’s accepted we can love animals as much as or more than humans, there’s no norm for dealing with their loss. Burial isn’t uncommon and there are pet cemeteries; some offer online tribute sites. There are others that provide statues or plant trees in a pet’s honor. In some parts of the world, options include preserving an animal’s DNA, cryopreserving their bodies, or cloning them.

The perspective of pet taxidermy varies from person to person. But entire businesses and even reality shows have been created around it. American Stuffers, a Discovery Channel program, goes into great detail about the practice of pet preservation. It’s apparently enough of a phenomenon that it catches the attention of people who practice taxidermy, want to preserve a pet, or are simply curious.

History and Examples of Pet Taxidermy

Pets have enriched the lives of people for centuries. In classical times, vases and other items were used to record pets’ lives, in a similar way that they’re painted and photographed now. Here’s a look at examples of pets being preserved in historical times:

  • Ancient Egyptians preserved their pets and were the first to do so with embalming tools, oils, injections, and spices. The practice was common among those in nobility, including pharaohs.
  • Frederick the Great, King of Prussia in the 1700s, used marble tablets to document the lives of his greyhounds and was later buried with them.
  • Peggy Guggenheim was buried with her terriers at her Venice palazzo after she died in 1979.
  • A bird belonging to the Duchess of Richmond was preserved in 1702 and is the oldest known surviving example of bird taxidermy.
  • A stuffed crocodile is on display at a church in Italy that dates back to the 1530s!

Far from being weird, taxidermy for pet preservation has never gone out of style. The remains of animals can be preserved for some time, even hundreds of years.

What Does Pet Taxidermy Look Like?

Preservation of a pet is usually more complex than having a pet skull on a shelf. Taxidermists often receive requests to present their work in various poses. At Potter’s Museum of Curiosity in England, a large number of preserved cats are seen sitting around a dinner table. Dutch artist Bart Jansen even turned his dead cat into a drone!

But taxidermy for pets isn’t always that, well, weird. English taxidermist Clare Fowler doesn’t see it that way. She has said she believes taxidermy is part of the grieving process. Her process is to create a fiberglass mold of the body after removing the skin/fur and preserving it. The skin and fur are then placed back over the molded form. Oftentimes she presents her subjects in a sleeping pose, as for most it’s an easier sight to accept.

Kodiak Bones & Bugs Taxidermy

While we’re not in the business of freeze-drying pets, we can help produce fresh, clean skulls with the help of dermestid beetles. You can buy them directly from us and grow your colony until it’s ready to consume flesh and leave the bone fully clean. Beetles are shipped live and are 100% healthy. A professional, licensed taxidermy service, we can also prepare your animal skull trophy for you once we receive it.

We use the same insects and processes that museums and universities around the world do. The larvae of dermestid beetles are thorough. They remove all the flesh including that in the deepest recesses of the skull. No tools are needed that can harm delicate structures. There’s no weakening of the bone, shrinking (which can happen with boiling), or residual odors.

To purchase beetles/larvae colonies, place your order online. For questions about shipping skulls or about any other way we can help, contact us online or call 907-942-2847.