Maybe you’re lost in the desert, down to your last canteen of water, or drinking from cacti. Or perhaps you just want to impress some of your friends with your manly hunting skills, while grossing out the squeamish ones at the same time. If these objectives aren’t enough, maybe you’re simply the kind of person who likes reptilian skins lying around, because you never know when you’ll be in the mood for a pair of snakeskin boots or sandals.

Whatever the reasons are, you have just decided that you’re going to skin that snake you just caught and killed, or the one you found dead (and hopefully still fresh) by the side of the road.

Here’s how you you’re going to do it.

Skinning A Snake

1. Be certain that your snake is good and dead before you handle it. This is especially true if you’re dealing with something poisonous, like a rattlesnake. Also, check the area and make sure the snake didn’t die from something noxious. Dead snakes can still bite and strike, believe it or not, even with the head removed, due to reflex reactions in the snake’s muscles, so be very careful.

(warning: this is video of a headless snake, and not for the squeamish)

2. Cut the head off your snake. If you’re only after the skin, and not the meat, you can leave the head on. If the snake is venomous, you need to break the fangs off and milk the venom. You’re best bet is just to get rid of the head. If you must keep it, use latex gloves and needle-nose pliers. Once the fangs are broken, you can milk the venom out with a cloth or paper towel.

3. Turn the snake belly side up and cut an incision all the way down the belly, from where the head used to be down to the tail. You can wash the snake with water and soap as well, before you make your first cut.

4. Hold the snake taut, and then slowly pull the skin off with your hands, starting from the head and working down to the tail. Separate the skin from the membrane beneath as you move along. If you find it rough going, you can use a knife to cut through the lower membrane.

5. When you reach the snake’s cloaca (the part where wastes come out for birds and reptiles), you might have to cut the skin off with a knife. Work around the cloaca, and then move on to the tail.

6. Cut off the rattle (if it has a rattle) as close to the tail as possible.

7. Now you need to gut the snake. You can remove the innards by hand. Start at the head, and scoop down with your cupped finger or a scooping tool, and pull the innards out. Take care near the digestive track, toward the bottom of the snake. You don’t want the snake’s last dinner to mix in with your own.

8. Wash the snake meat in water and get rid of any leftover guts or other parts you find undesirable.

9. Cut the snake up into segments, and start frying. Even if it was a venomous snake, if you cook it well, the venom will pose you no harm.

10. Last but not least, serve the snake up to your friends, and then listen to them tell you how it tastes like “spongy chicken.” If you ever happen to come across a constrictor, like a bull snake or python, these methods won’t apply. Their skin is attached in a very different way, and requires a lot more work, and you won’t look as cool trying to peel it.

Once the skinning and the cleaning is done, the meal is on. Bon appetite!

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