A Mount For Every Taste: The Extremes of Squirrel Taxidermy

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In this close-up, you can see the detail Nadeau puts into his work. “Even on a small animal like this, the eyes make it or break it,” says 53-year-old Nadeau. Other details include the critter’s claws wrapped around an assault rifle. Nadeau has sent mounts similar to customers in places as far-flung as Iceland, Norway and Japan. This particular mount was a custom order for a retiring U.S. Army colonel.
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“The card-playing mounts are popular for deer camps and poker rooms,” Nadeau says. This poker-playing cowboy was made ahead of time, for when business slowed, and was sold on eBay. Nadeau’s chest mounts go for $75 to $90 a piece.
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Do I hear banjos? The only thing delivered here was this made-to-order cigarette-smoking, banjo-picking squirrel by the UPS man a few years back. “Most taxidermists don’t even want to mess with animals as small as these. Obviously, it’s paying off for me,” he says.
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Nadeau tackles full-body mounts during the fall football season. This one, paw out for the block, was made for an attorney in New York. “I’ve also done a referee, hands up, signaling a field goal,” adds Nadeau. He sells full body mounts for $155 to $165.
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“You’d be surprised at all the miniature accessories you can find on the Internet,” says Nadeau. This jazzed-up cello-playing squirrel, complete with felt-lined instrument case, was a gift from a father to his son who plays the real thing. A taxidermist by day and warehouse supervisor by night, Nadeau sometimes trades hunters squirrel pelts for a mount of their choice.
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Tail and whiskers back, this motorcycle-riding fox squirrel was a custom order for a woman in St. Louis, MO, who restores human-sized bikes. “You have to have a good imagination to do this kind of stuff,” says Nadeau. “Then again, some clients, like this one, let me know exactly what they want.”
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This military mount is one of Nadeau’s best sellers right around Christmas. “Mounting squirrels is very tedious work; work others won’t even attempt. The smallest animal they’ll do is a coyote,” he adds.
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A little bit country? A little bit rock and roll? “It’s up to the customer as to what they want,” he says.
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Right before the World Series, Nadeau mounted several squirrels for his home team–who call the ballpark just over the state line near his shop. Here, a beer bottle Koozie made the perfect St. Louis Cardinals uniform.
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Beer? Baseball? Need we say more? “Some locals question my beer brand of choice for these mounts with the Busch Brewery so close to home. All I have to say is when they send me a check I’ll slip a Bud Lite bottle under there…” Nadeau’s in the process of producing squirrels with a German look to pair with some local hand-crafted brews.
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A close up of one of Nadeau’s rally mounts, including life-size-to-a-squirrel baseball and mitt.
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A lot of the clothing is sewn by Nadeau’s wife, such as the bibs on this fox made for the author of a children’s book whose main character is a fiddling squirrel.
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“Nothing says happy St. Patty’s Day better than a squirrel sporting a green top hat and gold from the pot at the end of the rainbow.” This one’s a popular purchase in early March.
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Even the best of the best like novelty mounts, such as the retired Green Beret who received this one.
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“By far, the most popular mount I make is the full-size business card holder,” Nadeau says.
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Nadeau’s novelty mounts are becoming his most popular request, but he still gets the occasional call for a lifelike in a natural stance.
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The shop of Rick’s Custom Squirrels, where the critters are fleshed out, washed in Dawn soap, and then their hides tanned and taxied.