The last couple of rats that I have skinned I have begun with the belly instead of the back. When I first began taxidermy, I followed a manual that told be to start from the belly, but I had seen other tutorials that started from the back and I thought those looked easier (when you start from the back the spine and ribs protect all the organs from any slips with the knife). But now I am more experienced I felt comfortable trying out the other way.
I found the skin on the belly a lot easer to cut, it seemed thinner and a lot stretchier. It’s hard to say whether this way was easier or not, I think because it was new to me I found it a lot more exciting but I’m sure that will fade fast. I did find the tail a little harder to do but I think the main body was a lot easier because I was working towards spine and ribs rather than the soft belly, which meant I was tougher and faster.
When it came to the stuffing I did find the change in entry point easier. It was a little confusing to begin with as I had to stuff in an opposite direction but once I got the hang of it, I feel that it sped the whole process up a lot. It also made the sewing up a lot more pleasant, this was always one of my least favourite stages, but the skin was a lot thinner making is sooooo much easier to see through and the position was a lot more versatile.
Finally, the appearance of the rats when completed has improved so much! The slight fuzzy, sewn edge you can see on the yellow rats back is now hidden on the purple and pink ones, success!
I will definitely continue skinning the rats in this way, at least for the curled up rats, as it improves the appearance so much. I feel like I am slowly getting better at better at this, I’m excited for what’s to come next!