When folks find out that we know all about taxidermy, one of the most common questions we get is, “how do the fleshy eyes of animals get preserved in taxidermy“? We’ll answer that for you here.

The simple answer is, they don’t. The eyes of animals are not preserved, or tanned, in taxidermy. Glass eyes (and plastic eyes too!) are substituted for the real eyes. Today’s glass eye technology has come so far that quite often it’s hard to distinguish the real from fake!

Many think taxidermy means “stuffing” animals. Also not true. Taxi means “to move”, and derm means “skin”…taxidermy is the manipulation/movement of skin over a mannikin that has been sculpted to resemble the anatomy of the animal. Nowadays, an animal’s anatomy is sculpted initially in non-hardening clay. Then it is molded in fiberglass and cast over and over in a 2 part urethane foam. Taxidermy supply companies like McKenzie and Ohio Taxidermy Supply sell these mannikins in countless shapes, species, and sizes.

taxidermy eyes - glass eyes replace the real eyes in taxidermy
Glass eyes are pre-set in the mannikin. This moose, for example, has glass eyes with clay sculpted over them to replace the surrounding eye tissue and anatomy. Note this one was even made for removable antlers!

On these taxidermy mannikins, there are eye sockets pre-sculpted in place. The taxidermist will “set the eyes” on the mannikin using clay. The clay serves two purposes; it holds the eye on the mannikin, and 2) it allows the taxidermist to sculpt in the eyelids/eye anatomy for the necessary “padding” under the skin and over the glass eye to give it its realism. A skilled taxidermist can fool you into thinking the animal’s really alive!

taxidermy eyes - glass eyes are very realistic
Today’s glass and even plastic eyes for taxidermy are so realistic, you might think you’re staring at the real thing!

Tohickon is probably the most popular glass eye manufacturer. They make hundreds of species, sizes and colors of artificial eyes for taxidermy. Taxidermy eyes are generally inexpensive. They range from a few dollars to over $50/pair for large species of high quality.

Now you know what the fleshy eyes of animals become when an animal is preserved through taxidermy! Let us know if you have any other taxidermy related questions.

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