Our policy on accepting pets for taxidermy at taxidermyuk.net
Reading and understanding this document completely is a precondition of discussing pet taxidermy. You will find almost all of your questions answered here, and also be able to reflect on the situation in light of what you learn here.
Is pet taxidermy a good idea?
If you have only just lost your pet you will be very upset and emotional. If you are reading this, you may be considering that taxidermy of your pet is the solution to your loss.
I have been doing taxidermy over 30 years, added to that, I have lost two much loved pet dogs of my own and some other non canine pets. So I know very well the emotions you may be feeling. Right now you do not require a taxidermist. What you do need right now is time to adjust to the situation and take any decisions with informed consideration. You should read this document in full with great care. This is for your protection, so that you do not make a knee jerk emotional decision. You need to be fully aware that high quality taxidermy of a pet is very expensive, and it can take easily over a year to complete. You will have moved on, emotionally, a very long way in that time and you will see matters very differently. You may also have large vet bills to settle if your pet was treated prior to its passing, so you don’t need more big bills right now.
My personal opinion on it…
It may seem perverse, a taxidermist talking a potential client out of having some taxidermy done. However, I am not in the business of taking money from people who are in a deeply emotional state. It is my considered opinion, after 30 plus years of work in this area (and the loss of two of my own much loved canine friends) that deciding on taxidermy as a reaction to the loss of a pet is, for most people, completely the wrong decision.
Time is the healer of loss, not taxidermy. Please consider this very deeply and if you have any doubts at all about taxidermy as an option, then I would strongly advise against it.
Deciding on taxidermy of a pet requires a calm, pragmatic, well thought out decision. Few of us can take a decision like that when we have just lost our friend of many years. It is for these reasons that we respectfully request that you do not contact us immediately. We are not an emergency or storage service for deceased pets, nor are we qualified to council people on pet bereavement. Please do not call or email us until you have read, acted on and fully understood this entire policy document. It is a strict condition of discussing the matter with you. If you have read and understood the following, this should be several weeks or even months following your pets’ demise.
About pet taxidermy
Working on pets is unlike any other area of taxidermy, because of the intense emotions involved with the death of a much loved pet. If you are reading this document, then you have done at least some research into the subject and may be considering it as an option for your own pet or that of someone you know.
The reason pet taxidermy is so much more costly than most other taxidermy work is because it is far more demanding technically and artistically. It requires a very different technique and approach to most commercial taxidermy and, done well, is more akin to high end museum quality taxidermy. It also requires far more non studio working time to be spent on consultation with the client and other administration work. This time too must be accounted for. It is for these reasons that many taxidermists will decline to do pets.
In the following text I have addressed the main issues raised, regarding this delicate subject, and deal with some of the most frequently asked questions and issues. At the same time I have set out my own personal approach and strict policy with regard to working on pets.
Only very rarely do people plan in advance to have their pet set up, or mounted, as taxidermists prefer to call it. In the majority of cases (at least in my experience) people only consider taxidermy as an option in the first hours after their pet has died. They will be upset and often confused about the best choice to make over the fate of their pet. They often do not wish to be parted from the mortal remains and find the prospect frightening and upsetting. Many feel under pressure to decide quickly on how to proceed. My policy on pets hopefully goes some way to explaining and clarifying things as regards taxidermy and particularly our own approach.Read More
‘What to do’ Q&A…
Q. My pet has died and I am thinking about taxidermy as an option. What should I do next?
A. Put your pet somewhere very cold (NEVER WRAP IT IN BLANKETS OR TOWELS), preferably put him or her in a deep freeze. In the very short term, a cold concrete floor will do for a few hours. This is very important as warmth causes the body to deteriorate (rot) very quickly, sometimes within hours. In summer you have only a few hours to act. The priority is to get the pets’ body frozen. All vets have several large chest freezers expressly for this purpose and will usually store a pet (sometimes for a fee) for a time, whilst you make a decision about what you would like to do with your pet. If your pet has been euthanized by your vet, then you will be able to store it for a time at the vets.
- We do not accept pets, for storage here at our studio, under any circumstances.
- We do not accept pets on short notice.
- They should be stored frozen at your veterinary practice.
- Appointments here are very strictly by prior arrangement and telephone consultation.
- Pets must only be brought here deep frozen.
Q. Is my pet actually suitable for the taxidermy ?
A. Possibly not! Not all animals, whether wild or pets, will be suitable for taxidermy. The condition of the pet, at the time of its death, is critical to the outcome. Even the most skilled taxidermist cannot make a very old or ill animal appear healthy and young again. Pets that are old and/or in ill health when they die are usually in very bad condition; they may be losing their fur, or hair. They may have lost or gained weight or have injuries and scarring from accidents or illness. They may have had their fur or hair heavily shaved off by the vet. Please note, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT, AT ANY POINT, TO DECLINE TO WORK ON A PET. Agreement to view a pet does not in any way mean we are contracted to work on it, or that work started on it can necessarily be completed.
Q. Can it all go wrong?
Yes, it most certainly can. Any animal skin can fail during the process and this risk must be considered and accepted by the client. Failure of a skin can occur for many reasons, as listed above, but for herbivores such as Rabbits, Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Guinea pigs, Hamsters, Degus, Chinchillas etc. it can be a very particular problem. It is called Post Mortem Epidermal Skin Slip (P.M.E.S.S). It is caused by a process called Autolysis where the skin cells below the epidermis are destroyed by their own enzymes, which causes the epidermis to separate from the dermis. The fur or hair is held in the epidermis and when P.M.E.S.S occurs it simply sloughs (falls away) and leaves a white clean looking, smooth hairless skin.
P.M.E.S.S. can occur in small mammals as soon as 30 minutes after death, in certain conditions and it is irreversible. It occurs initially around the abdomen, mouth and eyes, but soon spreads across the body of the deceased animal. The only way to mitigate it is to deep freeze the whole animal immediately following its death. Any delay whatsoever will risk this happening .
N.B. Freezing is not a guarantee that (P.M.E.S.S) will not occur in any animal.
Q. What should I expect?
A. Your expectations of taxidermy of your pet must be realistic and based on a calm, rational assessment of what exactly you are entering into when choosing taxidermy. If your pet was old and/or ill and had lost weight when it passed, then that is how it will look in the completed work. No taxidermist, no matter how skilled, can make an old or very sick animal appear young and healthy. For example, a fourteen year old cat or dog, which has died of a long protracted illness, would not be a good subject to work on. Irrespective of the ability of the taxidermist, the finished mount of the animal will be very poor and the client will be left with a reminder of how their pet looked in its final weeks or days. We would, more than likely, decline the work in such a case or advise very strongly against the option.
Q. Will my pet still be soft and cuddly?
A. No, high quality pet taxidermy is a technical and involved process and, a finished mount is hard to the touch. The pose cannot be altered, the legs, tail and head do not move. The eyes, though very realistic and anatomically accurate, are made from glass. Areas of skin with little or no hair or fur may show stitching, which is part of the process. The older and the more ill the pet, the less satisfactory the result will be. It is a fact that a young animal in healthy coat looks better than an old, infirm one.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. Like most things in life done properly and well, pet taxidermy is very expensive. Actual costs are specific to each pet; the species, age, breed, size, pose required and condition of the animal are all factors which can affect the cost. A very close (short) haired dog, like a whippet or greyhound requires very considerably more work than does a rough or long coated breed. This will be reflected in the price.
Guide to Pricing
CATS – We charge from £2000 for a flat coated standard domestic pet cat. A fine bodied seal point Siamese would be more. Also some cats are very large in size and likewise will be correspondingly more.
DOGS – From £2500 to £5000 for a small to medium dog (A medium dog is an average healthy Springer spaniel). For larger dogs up to Alsatian/Lab size I would need to consult with the client and assess the animal. Short or fine haired dogs or cats have substantial visible anatomy and musculature which will add cost dependant on the breed and the position. A whippet would be 20% more than a long haired dog of the same size.
Q. Are there other costs apart from taxidermy?
A. Yes. Cremation of remains. After the pet taxidermy is done, we must legally dispose of all pet remains. They must be taken to a pet crematorium. We have to charge for these disposals. You have the option of having your pets remains cremated individually and returned. Costs vary according to the animal and if you require them back or not. We can only give these costs at consultation (See foot of this page for the full details of cremation of remains).
Q. Can I have my pets’ remains back to bury or cremate myself?
A. This is an environmental health issue and a public health issue. We do not, under any circumstances, hand back any pets remains once work has commenced. The only option is cremation at a charge.
Q. What happens if I decide to cancel the taxidermy once you have my pet?
A. If you decide to cancel, you must return personally to take your pets whole body away for burial, cremation etc. within 14 days of the decision. We will not send the body by post. You will be charged £150.00 to cover our time in consultations with you, administration paperwork and the storage and handling of the pet when removing pet from storage, wrapping and returning your pet to you at my studio. The pet will be placed in a sealed polythene liner and placed in a plain cardboard box, as would a vet if you picked up your pet from them. We can make wooden crates at a cost.
If we have started work, then return of the pet is absolutely not possible, in any circumstances. The entire remains must be cremated and then returned at a charge for the service. We only work with a dedicated approved facility crematorium.
Crematorium costs are expensive and in addition to the taxidermy. Please consider this, as the costs can be very considerable for taxidermy and cremation costs. If these costs are too high for you we strongly advise that you contact your local pet crem, or R.P.C and disregard taxidermy with us.
- We must dispose of all mortal remains through a registered pet crematorium. Remains cannot be returned to clients unless they are the whole animal untouched.
- We do not, under any circumstances, return remains to clients after work has started. This is a health and safety and environmental health issue.
- We work with Rossendale Pet crematorium http://www.rossendalepetcrem.co.uk/
We charge to deliver and collect pet remains to Pet crem. It is not local to us and we must make a special trip.
We charge £50.00 to collect or deliver remains. To deliver and collect is £100.00. This is additional to the crematorium costs.
R.P.C charge for all cremations: There are two options…
Remains cremated and not returned. One way trip. Clients are advised of actual crematorium costs, at the time, as prices vary depends on size of pet and prices also go up regularly.
Remains cremated and returned. We deliver the remains and they are cremated INDIVIDUALLY. They are then placed in a box for which there is an additional charge. We then collect and return them to you with your pet.
In the event that we decline to mount a pet, or you consider our costs to be too high, you may wish to explore other taxidermists for taxidermy of your pet.
This of course is your decision, but please do your homework first, and heed the following advice when selecting a taxidermist capable of doing pet taxidermy.
You will find a host of people out there, professing to be taxidermists, particularly on social network sites, who will say they are able to do taxidermy, and pet taxidermy. Unfortunately it is a fact that some of them are not qualified to stuff a pillow! Many are “have a go merchants” whose experience in prefessional taxidermy can be written on the back of the proverbial fag packet. Only a handful are genuinely professional, long established practitioners, capable of demonstrating that they can produce consistently high quality taxidermy and only a fraction of those who fit that description, can or will do pets.
Things to look out for:
Be wary if any of the following applies, and ask questions.
- If they are quoting a cheap price (£400 is dirt cheap to do a cat to a high standard and I would say it not possible). I have yet to see one done at that price which is better than appalling.
- If they say “yes, pop over now!” or “It will be ready in a couple of weeks”…This will mean that they probably have no other work to do and are more interested in your wallet, than providing you with a good service.
- “I’m Local” – being convenient and local is no qualification for doing a good job of anything.
- If you visit, and the animals you see do not look impressive – leave! Being nice is not a qualification either.
- Ask to see either examples of their pet work or good quality photos from, what should be, a considerable portfolio of recent work.
- If they say “I’m a member of the guild of taxidermists”. This is neither a qualification, nor an endorsement of ability or quality. Anybody can register or join the Guild of taxidermists – even a non taxidermist. Membership is just that. On its own, it means nothing.
This is not a criticism of the Guild, but of those who falsely try to give the impression that membership alone bestows some sort of automatic endorsement of their ability as a taxidermist. It does not! The guild of taxidermists itself is very concerned about people using its name as an endorsent of their ability.
- “I am Registered with a government department”
Registering with a govenment such as Natural England does not confer on the registrant any endorsement of ability, any more than a driving license makes one a good driver. In terms of ability it means nothing.
Much of the above may seem very strict, involved and expensive. It is intended to protect and inform you, very clearly, on the potential pitfalls, financial and emotional commitment of pet taxidermy.
I sincerely hope that the above is clear and informative. I have tried to cover all aspects honestly and clearly to avoid any misunderstandings in regards to this area of taxidermy.