snake skin tanning

When you live in the country you tend to come across snakes every now and then. In our part of the woods we have a lot of rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins – all extremely poisonous. When we see these snakes, they usually die. It’s an us vs. them situation. They have no qualms about striking so it’s best to just be the one to walk away from a snake encounter. And, when we are able to kill the snake, it gives you an opportunity to learn one more homesteading skill – snake skin tanning.

Over the years we have tanned several rattlesnake skins from those that my husband has killed. It’s a relatively easy process, but one that does take a few days. The good news is that you can use ingredients found at the local grocery store, which makes this that much easier to do.


  • 3 parts rubbing alcohol
  • 1 part glycerine

Skin the snake and carefully remove any meat from the underside of the skin. You need it to be as clean as possible.

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl (preferably one that you won’t need to use again). Dip the skin in the mixture. Roll it back up. Place it in a plastic ziploc bag and place it in the refrigerator. Do this three to four times a day for 3 days.

After the third day, remove the skin the bag and rinse in water. Remove any leftover meat from the skin (if you missed any).

Drape over clothes hanger and let it dry. In a few days check it to see if it’s thoroughly dry. It should be soft and supple. You can then use tacks to secure it to an old rustic board and hang it in your room.

Voila. You have no learned the art of snake skin tanning.