I’m not sure why but dead things keep showing up in front of me. You think I’m joking? The morning of writing this (6/20) I happened to be rummaging through my attic when this scene appeared out of the corner of my eye. A little brown bat lying lifelessly frozen… inside a Halloween candy bowl? I hadn’t quite ever seen anything like it… such a small-scale display of showmanship of Bowie-Esque inspiration, I had to memorialize this bat! This is likely going to be a shorter post as this project will be multi-staged and will have to be updated through multiple posts. Also, fair warning, if you’re uninterested in seeing or reading about the carcasses of some long-dead (but sustainably sourced!) creatures, perhaps this post isn’t for you.
Call me creepy, but the first google search on my phone after seeing this fellow was “how to taxidermy a bat.” Unfortunately this particular specimen was already too far decomposed to used that way, so I brainstormed other ideas until I was struck by memories of being in occult and oddity shops lined with the floating cadavers of dead creatures and critters… so I will be attempting to make a “wet specimen” out my new friend here I’ve decided to name Bat Benatar.
I did some research and it’s actually rather simple to make, all you have to do is clean it with some alcohol and light scrubbing followed by a soak in alcohol for a few days to a week while its body absorbs it as an embalming agent. Embalming is a process that involves replacing the bodily fluids of something with a preservative fluid of some kind… in this case alcohol. Once complete, I will inject it directly with rubbing alcohol Victor Frankenstein style to ensure that it is preserved inside and out, followed by placing it in a jar/globe of the same liquid. I’d like to dye the color of the jar green or perhaps red, something to give it a bit more excitement when light shines through it! Stick with me for updated details.
Around the time it started to get warmer out a friend paid a visit to me from out of town. They’d been interested in foraging for edible mushrooms so we went out looking for whatever specific kind we sought to find (we found them!) While searching for the shrooms, we also happened upon this scene of a skunk that was just… very dead. Sometimes things look out of place to me if they’ve just died, but by the time we had found it, this critter was basically part of the natural landscape.
The skunk became an object of my attention for the weeks following as I would periodically check up on it during runs or bike rides, watching its body slowly break down into the dirt below. One fateful afternoon I approached its usual location and curiously poked it with a stick – its body still largely intact. It’s going to take a bit longer before its backbones and appendages can be foraged, but of course, that wasn’t exactly what I was after. My patience was rewarded as I saw the apricot-sized skull roll away from the body as I poked and prodded it. My immediate excitement caused me to forget the gloves in my back pocket and so I grabbed it with my bare hands (ew!) but made sure I did not touch a single thing until I got home (the skunk was located only a mile or so from my place).
Once home I started the process of degreasing by giving it a hot soak in soap and water (dawn or other degreasing dish detergents work). Some hours of this was followed by a peroxide bath where they currently sit as I write this. It may take a few baths to get that bleached white look that would make it collectible, but I have more plans for this thing! Also, these photos are featuring some backbones of a deer I found a year or so ago on some solo hikes during the heavier phases of the Covid lockdown. I would love to somehow make a body for this skull, perhaps make a creature that isn’t a skunk at all and mount the skull on it. Stay tuned!
Featured imaged taken/edited by me.