How to Tan a Squirrel Hide


How to Tan a Squirrel Hide



Squirrel Hunting can provide many squirrel hides that can be turned into durable leather or made into nice decorative pieces in just a few simple steps. We will examine how to tan a squirrel hide in a simple and effective manner.

The art of tanning a squirrel pelt, or any other animal hide, is a talent that has become more and more lost in today’s world of easily accessible food and resources. Squirrel pelts were traditionally used as a durable leather that had many uses, such as being sewn into patterns to make coats and other articles of clothing to keep our ancestors warm. Even though you can run down to the local Walmart store and buy a coat eliminating the NEED to tan a hide, the process of tanning a hide can still be an interesting and entertaining activity, even if it’s just done for fun.



Here’s What You’ll Need:


  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Salt
  • Dull knife
  • Alum (tanning chemical, short for Aluminum) can be purchased many places including Do a quick Google search for a place that carries it near you.
  • Hide from a squirrel
  • Neat’s Foot Oil (purchased at any leather shop)






  • Prepare the pelt by scraping away as much visible meat and fleshy tissue as possible from the hairless underside of the hide. A dull knife is recommended, as it will scrape the hide without slicing through.


  • In a 5 gallon bucket, prepare a solution of saltwater: 5 cups of salt to 1 gallon. Submerge the hide in the salt solution for a minimum of 24 hours. Remove and scrape away any remaining flesh and membrane that has come loose during the soaking process.


  • To prepare your tanning solution, begin with 2 lbs. of salt mixed into 4 gallons of water. You can reuse the same bucket as before.  Stir it to dissolve the salt completely. In a separate container, mix 2 lbs. of alum in just enough water to dissolve and mix thoroughly. Add this to the salt mixture.


  • Place the scraped pelt into the tanning solution. Allow it to sit for 24 hours and stir it a minimum of two times during the tanning process.


  • Remove from solution and rinse the entire pelt under clear running water. Hang the pelt outside with the fur side up, over a clothesline or railing out of direct sunlight. Let it hang for several days.


  • Rub the hide, back and forth, over a straight edge to soften the leather. A patio railings will work well for this process.


  • Work Neat’s Foot or other leather lubricants into the underside (leather) with your fingers to insure the tanned hide becomes both soft and pliable. Use a dog brush or other comb to work out any mats or tangles on the fur side of the hide.

Now you have your very own Squirrel Pelt. A set of them placed over the arms of your couch looks great!




Things to note:


The chemicals, salt and alum, are non-toxic to humans but should NOT be digested. Wear gloves and wash hands frequently. As always, you should read the product label before using any chemical.
This method can be used to tan almost any type of animal hide. Increase times and amounts of tanning solution for larger hides.
Squirrel hides can be frozen in the freezer until ready to tan if you choose to tan several at the same time.
Alum can usually be purchased at any pharmacy or drug store.
The tanned hide is NOT WATERPROOF. Exposing it to water can cause hair to fall out or the hide to stiffen. However this method is still good for preserving hides.


  1. Thank you. I like the fact that you made the instructions brief and relevant, that is very helpful. I’m looking forward to doing it myself.

  2. Jarrod J. Williamson says:

    Just FYI, alum is not short for aluminum, although it has aluminum in it. Alum is potassium aluminium sulfate, KAl(SO4)2·12H2O.

  3. Squirrel Hunter says:

    Thank you for your input! Hope that clears up any confusion on that.

  4. Should make mention that you shouldn’t hang the pelt over a metal clothesline. Metal and your solution don’t react well together.

    Can you cut this mix in half? 4 gallons of water seems like a lot more than is needed for a squirrel pelt.

    Wouldn’t it be better to stretch and work the hide as it is drying to break down the fibers and make it more pliable?

    Great website.

  5. Squirrel Hunter says:

    HillBilly Jeff,
    First off, great name! And yes, the solution should work just fine if cut in half. Also, it was a valid point about hanging over metal, probably not a great idea. Also, stretching and working the hide would make it more pliable but it all depends on how soft you want it and what you intend to use it for.

    Thanks for your feedback and happy hunting!

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