Basic Muskrat Skinning 101 (With Photos)

Discussion in 'Trapping Techniques archive' started by gunrod, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. I thought skinning would be easier than it was. I cut the front legs too short, missed one ear and had trouble through the eyes. It won't be much but I'm sure it's just from never doing it before and if I can get a few more in the traps things will improve.

    Any hints on skinning? The eyes seemed to be where I had my most problem that I'm not sure what went wrong. Any tips for getting around the eyes.

    Wanna kill these ads? We can help!
  2. don't cut the fron legs, just pull the legs through the skin, they pop right off at the ankles. Cut towards the eye, when skinning the eyes, for that matter towards the skull as you skin the head, and you will get all the skin and eye lashes with it.

  3. A few more rats and you will get the hang of it. For skinning rats the fastest way I've found is to use a bench vise to hold their tail. Make your cuts from the back legs up the tail about one inch. Cut around the tail and nip off the front legs at the ankles.

    You won't need your knife till you get to the head. Pull the hide down to the front legs and pop them out with your fingers. When you get the hide to the head find the ear buds an cut next to the head. Pull down to eyes and repeat. Cut nose and your in business. Use the one inch tail strips for the hooks on your stretcher.

  4. Muskrats are really fun and easy to skin, once you get the hang of it. You should be able to skin a rat about every 2 minutes, when you get a little more practice.

    The method I was taught when I was 12 years old, is the method I still use today.

    Sit in a chair.

    Grab the rat by one hind foot.

    Place you foot on their tail.

    Run your knife from the foot to the middle of the side of the tail.


    Grab the other hind leg and make the same cut.

    Lay down your knife and use your fingers to peel the hide off the back side of the rat around the tail and then pull the hide loose from the back side of the tail only. (Leave the hide attached to the belly side of the tail!!!! This keep the entrials from poping out as you proceed with the skinning.

    Work your fingers around each hind foot and break the hide loose.

    Now hook your thumbs into the loose hide, with the rat's back up and its head pointed away from you. Use your fingers on both hands to push the rats head into the hide as you turn the rat inside out.


    Now, work each front leg loose and pull the hide loose from each front foot.

    Work your fingers around the rats neck and squeeze the hide with one hand so it is tight, by pinching it tight around the rats nose.

    Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the ear openings close to the skull on both sides.

    Now pull the hide tighter toward the nose and find the white areas that appear just above each eye. Using the sharp knife and while keep the hide squeeze tight around the rats nose, cut in the white area above each eye until the hide comes loose. You need to cut above the actual eye opening, if you want to get a perfect eye hole with the lids intact.


    Next cut the cartilidge in the nose.

    ( If you want to be really fancy, you can now use the point of your knife to loosen the roof of the rats mouth. Then use your fingers to open the rats mount and slide the mouth roof down off the rats front teeth. The will give you a very small mouth opening and help to keep the rats nose from sliding down off the end of a wire stretcher. This is my own personal modification to what I was taught as a young trapper.)

    With hide loose from the rats head, pull the hide toward the rats belly and use your knife to cut if free at the vents and base of the tail.

    A practiced muskrat skinner should be able to skin a rat as described above in well under 2 minutes, with the extra time need to leave the rats mouth roof in tack.

    Here is the finished product:


    Good Luck and happy rat skinning!
  5. Thanks for the help.
  6. I havent skined a rat in 20+ years. I hope to get some traps out yet this winter. Cant quite remember how to skin a rat well enuf to explain it w/o first doing it myself.
  7. Got one more today so I will practicing this method again tomorrow.
  8. always someone in here that will help you out
  9. Yep......I'll be out Wednesday moving sets. I think I found an area that I can have to myself.
  10. You catching and skinning those rats to sell.............or are you going to tie some flys out of them.;)
  11. To sell, that way I can buy tying supplies. At this rate it won't be much but I'm still learning. Hope to buy a Zero Gravity if things turn out well.;)
  12. a muskrat tanned should you leave the saddle on when fleshing or should this be removed??
  13. Skinning muskrats were as much fun as skinning can get. I cut the front legs off with snips, cut the tail off at the base and made slit inside the achilles and hung them on a small gambrel through both legs. From there, all I had to do was cut across from leg to leg, make a few little cuts to get the genitals and fur around the tail free and then pull down easy, pull the front legs through, and make sure I cut the cartilage at the base of the ears close to the skull, be careful around the eyes and cut the nose cartilage at the skull and the pelt turns out very nice.

    I'd prep all of the muskrats first and then skin them all at once. Once prepped for skinning, getting it down to around a minute is easy.
  14. Thanks again. I printed Dave's instructions and took them to the garage. It came out much better. Still wasn't the best around the mouth and could have been slightly better around the eyes but 100% better than the last. I also took too much meat when pulling the skin which made for quite a bit of fleshing but it will improve as I go.

    I even have an idea how Dave takes the mouth roof out but that will wait until I master this.
  15. Does the eyes hole size affect the price on a rat? I know any damage from the ears down affects the value of the fur, but what about from the ears up?



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