Taxidermy is the preservation and mounting an animal for study or display, and involves the use of dead animals or animal parts.
The process generally starts with skinning an animal, then fitting the tanned skin over an artificial body made from carved polyurethane foam or sculpted wire. Clay and wax are used to reproduce the soft tissues and glass eyes are also added. Knowledge of animal anatomy, technical skill and artistic talent are needed to achieve a lifelike result.
Professional taxidermists supply preserved animals to museums and other research and educational organisations, and to hunters and fishers. Taxidermy is also practised as a hobby and there are many companies which stock a wide range of supplies.
Taxidermy may be for educational, research or private purposes. A licence is required to carry out taxidermy or hold preserved specimens of native fauna. This includes whole animals and any animal parts such as eggs, claws or feathers. However, OEH does not issue licences to collect fauna or fauna parts for use in making jewellery, handicrafts or for use in artwork. Please contact us for further advice.
A licence for private purposes will not be issued for any species listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, or for any bird of prey, unless it is proven that the specimen is from legally-held captive stock. However, OEH may allow the collection and holding of threatened species or a bird of prey when a legitimate scientific or educational use is demonstrated. Some other exclusions may apply.
No licence is required from OEH to hold specimens or carry out taxidermy on non-native fauna such as foxes, pigs or goats.
Download the taxidermy and preserved fauna licence application form (PDF 117KB). An application fee of $30 applies. Remember: if you are applying to carry out taxidermy you need to support your application with details of your experience in this area of work and by attaching photographs of your work, if possible.
Questions and answers
Q. I found a dead animal on the side of the road, can I have it preserved?
A: It depends on the species. Most species can be kept as preserved specimens under a licence except for those listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 or birds of prey (e.g. eagles, owls). However, you cannot remove any animal from a national park or nature reserve.
Q: Can I hold a preserved eagle?
A: OEH only allows eagles or other birds of prey (e.g. owls) to be held as preserved specimens if they have originated from captive held stock or used for legitimate educational purposes, such as education at a local school or environmental group.
Q: Can I sell a preserved specimen?
A: No. Preserved specimens cannot be sold or traded. If you have a licence to hold a preserved species but can no longer keep it, contact us for advice on how to dispose of it.
Q: I have found a dead animal I want preserved, what do I do?
A: Take the animal to a taxidermist licensed by OEH and have it identified. If it is a species that can be held, you will need to contact us to apply for a licence to hold it. A list of licensed taxidermists appears at the end of this page.
Q: Do I need a licence to hold native animal parts?
A: Yes, a licence is required to hold native animal parts such as feathers, claws, bones or eggs. But licences are not required for processed products, such as appropriately tagged kangaroo skins.
Q: Do I need a licence to transfer a preserved specimen interstate?
A. Yes, an import/export licence is required to transfer a specimen to or from another state.
Q: Where can I find a licensed taxidermist?
Taxidermists licensed by OEH include:
- Actual Animal Appearance Taxidermy: phone 0412 054 789; PO Box 284, Ingleburn 2565
- Animal Fetish Australia, North Bondi: phone 9130 7088
- Australian Taxidermy Studio, Frenchs Forest: phone 9972 7463
- Mario's Taxidermy: phone 4283 1753; 116 Caldwell Ave, Tarrawanna 2518
Is your licence due to expire? Download the taxidermy and preserved fauna licence renewal form (PDF 176KB). A renewal fee of $30 applies.
Taxidermy licences are administered by OEH's Wildlife Team. Find out more about what the Team does or contact the Wildlife Team for further information.
The websites listed below may be useful or interesting to taxidermists or those thinking about getting involved in taxidermy.
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Page last updated: 03 May 2016