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Hi, a couple questions about a raccoon hide

 
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I found a raccoon that had died and took it home and skinned it. The guts had been cleared out from the other wildlife already so that job was done too. I have the skeleton in soil so it can continue to decompose (the little flesh that was on it. ) was that a good move? Also, how can I clean up the hide more and what can I do with it?
This is my first animal other than a mouse (which my sister owns and sends the dead ones to me to practice taxidermy and such) so I am not sure what I can do with a larger hide. I got it before the decomposition started too so it is in good quality.
Thanks.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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You need to scrape the hide to get all the flesh and membrane off the pelt before curing it.  One can use a knife blade pulling it rather than slicing it to scrape.  A cabinet scraper works well, just don't put a large bur on the edge.  A smaller bur will take the flesh and leave the hide.

As for what you can make, that is up to one's imagination.  I 'coon skin may not go very far by itself; but you are learning a valuable skill.  

Rather than letting it decompose in soil, you may want to try worms or flesh beetles.  
 
Audra Dew
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Thank you! Also, I sadly don't have worms or beetles available.  Any other options? And I appreciate the tips for the hide. I was elated when I found the raccoon. I love working with this sort of a thing.
 
Jack Edmondson
pollinator
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I have been told that one can boil the bones to loosen the flesh.  Don't have any personal experience.  However, it will weaken to bone, so don't do a hard boil or for a very long time.  
 
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Audra, welcome to permies!

Here are some threads that will help with tanning:

https://permies.com/t/57560/permaculture-leathercraft/fiber-arts/Tanning-coyote-hides-special-considerations

https://permies.com/t/1145/permaculture-leathercraft/fiber-arts/Tanning-hide-Hemlock-bark

https://permies.com/t/105713/permaculture-leathercraft/fiber-arts/curing-lamb-pelt-home#860382

https://permies.com/t/42897/permaculture-leathercraft/fiber-arts/Tanning#336968
 
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the local parks department put the skeleton in a cage made of fine hardware cloth so that the bones don't escape and put it on top of an ants nest.  It cleans it in a few days, but the small bones go missing.

You can also boil the bones but there's something you are supposed to use with it and I cannot remember what that is.  
 
Rocket Scientist
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When I boil deer skulls I add Arm and Hammer Washing Soda to the water.   Makes short work of flesh. However if you boil to long it will eat smaller bones and cartilage.
Add about a cup to a good size kettle of water.
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Location: Upstate N.Y.
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So a bit of a PSA here... raccoons (and skunks, foxes and bats) can frequently carry Rabies. It's a virus that is 100% fatal if you show symptoms at all. Basically, if you get it you're dead. There are shots they can give you to prevent infection if you are bitten by an animal, but if you were to get infected from a dead animal you wouldn't know until you start showing symptoms, and then it's to late. Not something worth messing around with.
 
Audra Dew
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I appreciate the concern. I never touched it with bare skin and I never touched my face and I washed my hands and arms when done. I am very sterile. That is something I did take into consideration and was extremely careful with collection and dissection of the raccoon. And I will be just as careful with it in the future. But I  have showed no signs of rabies.
 
B. Rey.
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That's good that you took precautions. Didn't want to scare anyone, it's just something a lot of people don't think about and can be serious. I work with Rabies every day so it's always on my mind, hence the PSA.
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