At the start of each year at PrettyGreen, staff are allowed to select one item from their Bucket Lists and the company pick up the tab. It’s a great opportunity to do something you’d never normally do, and the added incentive of those not taking advantage being named and shamed in the company meeting is a real kick up the arse to actually do it.
Joe’s choice to do a taxidermy class was one that raised a few eyebrows, as apparently if you want to cut up small animals you’re “weird”, but he was still keen when he saw a class come up in his Twitter feed and got a ticket. It was called Amanda’s Autopsies; a class led out of the Pathology Museum at St Barts hospital in Smithfield.
So on Saturday afternoon he found himself taking a seat in the grand settings of the Pathology Museum, the desk in front of him laden with scalpel, wire, cotton wool, needle, thread and a suspicious looking bag of white powder that turned out to be a preserving chemical called borax. Oh, and of course, one rather sad looking dead hamster in a plastic bag.
How to stuff a Hamster; an idiots guide.
1. Cut from just below the jaw down to the crotch. Don’t cut too deep or you’ll cut into the guts and the smell will make you feel a bit nauseous.
2. Work the scalpel between the flesh and the skin, moving down the sides toward the back. When you reach a leg, work around it and down the leg. When you hit the wrist, snip through it on the inside of the hamster with scissors. Do the same with the tail.
3. Peel the skin off the hamster up to the head, don’t be surprised if you get pooped on at this point – it’s inside out.
4. Use the scalpel to cut the skin inside the head free, working bit by bit until the skin is free from the carcass. Avoid the eyes which will ooze on you if you cut them, and be aware that you may find food in the pouches in the cheeks. Even hamsters get a last meal.
5. Use freed hamster skin as finger puppet until boredom sets in.
6. Wash and dry the skin, then treat the fleshy side with borax to dry, deter bugs and preserve.
7. Stuff with cotton wool and wire to add some dexterity. Quickly Google “hamster” with your blood stained fingers to remember what one should look like and aim for that. Stitch it up when appropriately stuffed.
8. Add plastic eyes through the open mouth, then glue mouth shut.
9. Scare the crap out of friends, family and colleagues with what is meant to be a taxidermy hamster, but looks more like an affront to nature.
This is what a taxidermy hamster should look like.
And this is the product of Joe’s first try. Meet Timmy.