How do I skin, tan, and cook a snake,
or what can I do with a dead snake?
Many individuals have made inquiries to Ranch Headquarters over the years with this theme. Our response is simple:
If you do not have an economic or food purpose for the snake, then let it be!
If you confront the snake incorrectly, then the result may be a seriously painful bite! If you have dispatched the snake, then hopefully you have an end purpose in mind to utilize the carcass fully.
Many early settlers ate snake routinely. They are quite a tasty morsel if prepared properly. For survival reasons or just the plain experience of having satisfied a sort of 'return to primitive' factor, eating the snake can be very social and eye-opening. The skins are also very unique if cared for in a manner to preserve and use them effectively. All of the following is likely to sound a little complex, but it is all rather easy and relatively simple to accomplish! Sticking to it should be the main goal, or decide instead to use the 'relocation technique' to rid your area of any danger or concern about snakes! We have just completed a new audio on common sense methods to apply in keeping snakes away from desired areas. However, some people just want to deal with the snakes in a little more direct and personal way, so we have prepared some tips for those adventurous types!
So, eating and using the skin are potential applications of responsibly utilizing a dead snake. Beyond these, if you are not in research or animal behavior, physiology, biology, or the like, just leave the critter alone! Some people include relocating the snake to another distant area as a valid means to cope with it being in their personal space. While we certainly support this valid option, remember, those who live near the 'new home' may not be so receptive of your intentions! Wanton or senseless killing of any animal is just not what our planet can consider responsible for the future, so plan on using the snake completely once you have chosen to dispatch it.
A little help is likely in order now, given the above recommendations.
First, skinning the snake is essential, then cleaning it for consumption is next. In skinning a snake, the important considerations include minimizing damage to the meat and hide. Keeping it as clean as possible while stripping the skin is easy, and storing the skin for later use is also simple.
The usual technique is to:
1. Remove head.
2. Make a shallow cut by entering from vent end , belly side, going all the way to neck.
3. Insert and work finger around neck area underneath skin and pull skin downward (off) while holding stripped neck section of exposed meat.
4. Cut off tail at vent leaving skin and carcass as two separated pieces.
Sometimes getting a grip on the skin at the neck can be a little tricky! Stick to it and once a small holding spot is peeled back, stripping the complete skin in one easy, steady pull is simple enough. Then roll the skin up like a bedroll to either freeze for later or put aside while you clean the meat. By rolling the skin, it makes later fleshing a little easier to accomplish.
The meat is considered a delicacy in most places, but in reality this is likely more to its rarity rather than wondrous taste! Most snake meat is stringy, light colored, and fairly chewy. It is very low in fat and easy to digest. Some cultures hold it in very high regard as a healing, healthy, energy-enhancing food. In any case, it is entirely edible and, properly prepared, very tasty. The concern over poison being in the meat should be relieved by the fact that all venom is in the jaw area removed with the head. If the snake has struck itself or been bitten by another snake, it is comforting to note that cooking removes all risks! Actually, the venom of most snakes can be ingested even fresh with no ill effect! Just eat and enjoy without worry.
The meat is going to taste much like how it is fixed, seasoned, and cooked. Prepared like fish with corn meal, it will remind you of fish. Prepared like chicken, with a flour dip, it will taste strikingly like chicken. It can be smoked, broiled, boned for gumbo, made into pate, and basically cooked any way that is the favorite of the cook! The simplest is sometimes the best! Many of our neighbors prefer the old fried chicken recipe:
1. Cut into serving sizes desired.
2. Dip in baking soda saturated water.
3. Roll in flour.
4. Salt and pepper; season as desired.
5. Fry until tender throughout (or floating).
Simple but effective with a light crisp shell! This meat is really good for you and should be considered among the best of wild game menu item! A reminder though that snake is very bony with relatively small amounts of usable meat per inch. It takes a trophy size snake for a family to even come close to satisfying any real hunger levels!
Now, tanning the skin remains as the final chore following the decision to dispatch the intruder snake. This is labor intensive and rarely comes out the way we would picture it in our mind or with a product finished like a glove soft commercial quality hide!
The first and perhaps most important step is fleshing the hide. This can be accomplished only with 'elbow grease' and stamina! Place the "green" hide on a flat surface and scrape the hide completely with a tool of choice which most readily removes virtually all of the facie or tissue adhering to the skin. A finished skin is a white skin! Some fleshers prefer variously a knife, a meat cleaver, a spoon, a putty scraper, and a host of other devices designed to get flat down on it and remove the stubborn tissue. By stroking the skin with the grain downward toward the tail, it seems to do less stretch damage to the hide or scales on the opposite side. Trim the tail carefully by inverting it so the tip is preserved as a part of the hide. Staple the skin on a board or flat surface without unduly stretching it. Leave it straight in positioning so that later uses will be supported by a natural shape without curves.
Do not put salt on a snake skin! There are several good commercially available tanning solutions to apply to the wet skin after stapling flat. At Ranch Headquarters, we sell a preparation that we have used on hundreds of skins over the years. It works effectively and is safe to use. Check out our order form if you desire.
There is an alternative easy method that works reasonably well which we will share here with you. Apply a green antifreeze to the wet side of the skin. Leave this in the shade to dry slowly and repeat the application several times, being sure to cover the entire wet scraped surface. Antifreeze is extremely hazardous to pets and must be used carefully! After the skin has dried, remove and rub, or break it, over a surface corner like a table edge - much like shoeshine buffing rag. This last step is not necessary if you are planning a wall mount display. Just mount the skin on a the desired board and be done with it. Some people add some felt or pinked-cut edge to enhance their trophy! There are many applications for the finished hide to add a special personal touch to articles of clothing, hunting equipment, decorations, and the like. Bragging rights remain the exclusive domain of the dispatcher - if they live to tell about it without a bite!
Seriously, plan ahead to utilize the snake completely or leave it alone! If you capture and relocate it, do so carefully and with good judgment on the choice of a remote area away from homes, pets, children, livestock, etc. Good luck on this part of your snake adventure....and if you need special advice or help, consult our videos, audios, or written materials for more help! Brazos Snake Ranch, PO Box 1655, Weatherford, Texas 76086.
|Authored by CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS. This page last updated on 06/29/97.
Copyright © 1997 CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS & TNE, Inc. All rights reserved.
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