How To Tan a Squirrel Part 4: Drying, Stretching & Finishing

This article is a continuation of the process, step-by-step, of how to flat tan a squirrel using the Advanced Tanning Solutions Tan-a-Fur Skin Kit.  We are demonstrating on squirrels, but the process is similar for other fur skins. To get to this point, you should have already completed steps 1-7 in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Tan-a-fur-skin kit

The Tan-a-Fur Skin Kit includes everything you need to tan a life-size mountain lion, a medium bear, or several small animals. It’s a perfect kit for beginner home tanners and DIY taxidermists. You’ll get a professional-quality result with a simple, all-in-one experience.

The kit includes:

  •    Fleshing/Shaving Tool
  •    Degreaser
  •    Pickle Tan
  •    Fur Oil
  •    Softening Stone
  •    Silk Powder
  •    Dust Mask
  •    Non-Latex Disposable Gloves (2)

You will need table salt, bleach, baking soda, a plastic bucket, and hot water.

Step 8: Drying and Stretching

After you’ve oiled your squirrel skin, fold it in half, flesh side in, and leave it to dry overnight. The next day, hang the oiled skin to dry, flesh side out.

drying flesh out

Then, turn it over to dry, fur side out.

drying fur out

After about 4-6 hours, you can begin to stretch the skin as it continues to dry. This will keep the skin soft and pliable and prevent it from becoming stiff and crispy.

stretching squirrel skin as it dries

more stretching squirrel skin

Step 9: Finishing

Your squirrel skin should be dry and ready for finishing after about 24 hours.

At this point, you can apply Silk Powder that’s included in your kit. This will leave a soft, velvety feel to the skin.  It’s not necessary with thin-skinned animals, like squirrels, as you’ve most likely already achieved the perfect soft, silky tan. But, can be used with thicker-skinned animals like raccoons and bears. 

optional application of silk powder

Next, use a brush to smooth out the fur and break up any clumps. Be sure to brush with the grain of the fur. Start on the edges and work your way to the inside and don’t forget about the tail. When the fur is all smooth, it’s ready to be fluffed.

Then, to fluff out the fur, you want to give the fur a spritz of water so that it’s damp but not soaking wet. Quickly brush with the grain of the fur to distribute the water into the fur. You’ll know you have the right amount of water on the fur when you start seeing grooves in the fur from the bristles of the brush. You aren’t trying to rehydrate the skin — you’re just fluffing the fur, so don’t use too much water here.

Next, use a hairdryer on a cool setting and blow-dry the fur against the grain while also brushing against the grain of the fur. Be gentle and be patient. The entire process only takes about ten to fifteen minutes.  For large fur skins, use a vacuum or shop vac with the hose turned to blowing out.

fluffing squirrel fur with a hairdryer

And there you have it! Now that you’ve completed your first squirrel skin, you’ve got the skills and knowledge to tan any small fur-bearing animal. The Advanced Tanning Solutions Tan-a-Fur Skin Kit makes it simple by providing you with all the tools you need in one simple-to-use kit! 

If you liked this one, be sure to check out our other all-in-one kits, too: 

Tan-a-Hide is an all-inclusive deluxe tanning kit specifically designed for tanning large mammals such as deer, antelope, elk, moose, and other like animals.

And our brand new Tan-a-Snake Kit is a unique, easy-to-use, snake tan system that will produce a true tanned leather.  Unlike conventional glycerine methods which require more time and do not actually tan the skin, Tan-a-Snake will leave the snake skin clean, bright, soft and stretchy.  It is a quick process - snakeskins will be tanned within 7-10 days and  will dry flat, so no pinning or stapling is necessary!