Rabbit fur

annamolly

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I'm not sure where else to post this, since I'm new to this whole idea of self sustainability, and frugality.

Anyway, my roommate and I got some rabbits for free from a local guy "Farmer Bob" we got them just before New Years, and to date three of the original seven have died. We're sure they were either old or sick as we build them a comfortable house that was water tight, its cold here in Idaho, but its not below zero F, they've had plenty of food and water, and tons of time to run free in the yard as well.

My main question however is, since we don't just want to throw the rabbit out in the trash we want to be able to skin and preserve the fur. Does anyone know the easiest, however best way to do this? We've simply been stretching and pinning the fur side down on a board and pouring salt over to dry. This however makes for a very hard skin. Whats the best way to soften it up?

Basically I need to know everything!

Thanks!
 

savingdogs

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I'm interested in what everyone has to say...I've been researching this myself.

You might look over at Mother Earth News. They have several articles I read about tanning hides and making blankets and such with the hides. They describe a method where you soak the hides in either alum and water brine or battery acid and water brine and then scrape the hides. Then you put them back in the brine for X amount of time....then take them out and dry them stretched. Then you work the hide over something hard like a coffee can when they are almost all the way dry, until it dries the rest of the way and is soft and pliable.

I have not actually DONE this yet.......

I plan to make a blanket and also wanted to make some slippers or moccasins.

I'd love to hear if other people have actual experience with rabbit fur myself. We are raising our rabbits for meat but they have beautiful beautiful hair, mine are Creme d' Argents.
 

annamolly

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We're not even at the point of deciding what to do with the furs. I just want to make sure that we at least take care of this process correctly, so that whatever ends up happening we're not working with jacked up pelts.
 

annamolly

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Thank you. I was reading that site, and wondered if the advice was accurate. I wonder, do you, or any, know what the alum in the tanning mixture might do? Or just what it would do in general? Like I said we've been just using salt, I'm wondering if their really is an added benefit to using the Alum as well.
 

booker81

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There are some commercial tans available that are fairly non-toxic and simple to use.

To get a soft skin, you have to break it - by stretching and working it, usually over some sort of edge or rod to break the fibers down a bit. Large tanneries use tumbers to do this, but it's not the most feasable thing unless you are doing a LOT.

Here's a link to a tan I've used - and liked a lot - before.

http://www.fntpost.com/Products/Fur+Handling+Specials/Rittel's+EZ-100+Tanning+Kit

You can brain tan for a decent result. You do need alum or acid to get the skin cells structure changed to really "pickle" the hide. Think of a cucumber. Stick it in a jar of salt, and it won't last. Stick it in a jar of water, it won't last. Stick it in a jar of water and acid (vinegar in this case), and it lasts and lasts.

For safety, though it's not as sufficient as pulling some battery acid out of the car or using loads of alum, I'd check out getting a kit of the EZ100. It lasts, the acid is not going to burn you, it smells nice, and one kit will last a while, plus it has a good set of complete instructions.

For now, you can just work as much NON IODIZED salt into the hides, and then let them sit where it can drain as much of the juice off as possible. After a day or two, you might have to shake off and resalt, you want to get where no more juice comes off. At that point, it's salt dried, and can be kept for months until tanning, as long as bugs don't get to it. This is NOT tanning or preserving, you need to change the chemical structure of the hide with something - brain, alum, acid, etc (the tan will use a non-alum compound and acid).
 

savingdogs

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Thanks Booker, I think you probably are much more experienced in this.

I was not fond at all of the idea of working with battery acid and was thinking of trying the alum.

annamolly, I have no idea how accurate the Mother Earth News site is. Sometimes they can be a good source of information however. I found the directions on that article to be a little vague and would have liked to see more photos and detail about the process. Let me know how things work for you....

I have not yet processed any rabbits....I still need to breed them so it will be a while before I get to try out the ideas presented.

I wanted to make full use of the animal however and was thinking of making rabbit feet charms too.

I'd like to hear more about using the brains to cure. I believe that was supposed to be how ancient man cured hides.
 

rebecca100

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To make a soft useable hide brain tan them. You don't have to use brains, eggs will work. Mix with a little water and spread on the flesh side of a hide. I usually rewet the hides and do it. I have used brain tan and veggie tan on deer hides with good results. You just have to remember to WORK IT as it is drying or it will dry hard in places. HOWEVER a brain tan IS NOT WATERPROOF. If it gets wet it will stiffen again and have to be reworked. It is technically a buckskin when braintanned.

edited to add that I don't use chemicals in any way and this way is basically free.

www.braintan.com has some really good articles about tanning. Veggie tanning is a little harder but yields a stronger more waterproof tan. It takes FOREVER though. but it is a true old-time tan.

I can't tell exactly amounts and such for a rabbit since I have only done deer hides.
 

fisherman

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You mentioned the rabbits being old or deseased as the cause of death,Wondering if it would be a good idea to work with an animal that possibly died from a desease?
 

annamolly

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I must admit I didn't read the entire mother earth article. My housemate and I are much more the "figure it out" kind of people. I read most of it, didn't know what Alum was or was used for, had salt, so we went to town.

Good to know its something that I need to finish the process. Know what kind of store I would get something like that?

As far as softening goes, we've been rubbing the skin side down against an old 2X4. Must admit we haven't been real ambitious about this, knowing that I can keep the hides for months without the Alum helps ease some worry in my mind.

Thanks.
 
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