I usually don’t taxiderm pets- actually, not even “not usually”- I’ve never done it before because there’s just something creepy about the finished product. A pet has a personality and a unique facial expression and a bit of a soul. A taxidermed animal that you never knew in life doesn’t carry an uncanny valley effect when the taxidermist can’t get the face and expression and spirit quite right. I didn’t think it was possible to capture the psyche of the pet.
I don’t know what convinced me to give it a try, but when The Lizard died, I felt like I didn’t quite want to let her go completely. Or I guess I felt like she was so pretty in life that it seemed a waste to just toss out her body. Or maybe I was just feeling ambitious and wanted to give it a try.
I couldn’t help but try to identify her cause of death upon necropsy. I learned that lizard lungs are weird compared to mammal lungs- they’re like two giant membranous air bags, rather than millions of tiny, spongy air sacs. I learned that she was indeed female (I’d just guessed in life). I learned that she did not die of any sort of bowel blockage, a common cause of death in captive reptiles. Nothing looked glaringly wrong on the inside. All I can say is that she was just old.
Yeah, I know the eyes aren’t right, but ordering custom-made bearded dragon authentic taxidermy eyes are prohibitively expensive. I had to make do with something more economical- some creepy doll eyes from Michael’s. But what I’m really pleased about is that I believe I have accomplished the impossible in pet taxidermy- capturing an accurate facial expression. The Lizard perpetually looked pissed off in life. I even manipulated the flesh above her eyes to enhance the pissed-off look. I think I succeeded, and that made me happy. So I decided to see if the other animals in house approved of my work.
Jimmy was fully convinced, and excited to play with The Lizard, since he was never allowed to before.
Then there was little Jub-Jub, who was never allowed to meet the Lizard when she was alive. That’s because The Lizard hated other reptiles and was several times larger than baby Jub-Jub. It wasn’t worth the photo op to risk Jub-Jub’s life, but they were finally in a photoshoot together now.
As you can see, Jub-Jub was initially perplexed, but then proceeded to ham it up. Jub-Jub has a fun trick- she will assume just about any reclining pose you put her into. Eventually she stole the show.
Look at her long, spidery toes! Isn’t she just the cutest thing? If all goes well, Jub-Jub could grow to be bigger than The Lizard in a few years.
Despite little Jub-Jub being intensely pretty and cute, the photoshoot really just made me realize that I miss The Lizard. I loved her more than any other reptile. I really did like her better when she was alive. I won’t forgot you, The Lizard.