Taxidermist Romana Daniels with the skins she works with at her Bonalbo home.
Taxidermist Romana Daniels with the skins she works with at her Bonalbo home. Susanna Freymark

'I'm not a monster': Woman reveals her 'creepy' job

THE clear, brown eyes of a fox seems to follow Romana Daniels around her Bonalbo home.

The eyes aren't real, they're specially shaped marbles she orders from the internet. Foam mouth bones and plastic pink tongues are ordered online as well.

As a taxidermist, Romana wants the finished look of the fox, deer, rabbit or wolf she is working on to look real and authentic.

Matt Daniels models a headpiece made by his wife, taxidermist Romana Daniels at Bonalbo .
Matt Daniels models a headpiece made by his wife.

In her brick home, the room where she works is filled with skins of animals, hanging on rails and hundreds more stored in boxes. The room doubles as a bedroom for her eldest son until she can build her own studio.

A soft-mounted coyote has been sent to Fox Studios in Sydney and restored wolves have gone to Movie World.

With husband Matt Daniels, Romana goes hunting for foxes and rabbits.

"I shoot with a a rifle and a bow," Romana said. "People call us up and we go and hunt on their land."

Taxidermist Ramona Daniels skins animals at her home in Bonalbo.
A deer head on the wall at Romana Daniels' home. Susanna Freymark

Her former military husband taught her to hunt.

"It's awesome," she said. "You feel like you're taken back to your roots."

Landowners are more than happy to have foxes and rabbits culled on their properties, she said.

She doesn't do koalas or kangaroos.

"There are rules about native animals," Romana said.

She insists she is "not a monster" even though people may think what she does is creepy.

She admits it is a smelly job and takes some getting used to.

"There are huge misconceptions by people in the city," she said. "Foxes are adorable but I understand they are a pest."

Taxidermist Ramona Daniels from Bonalbo works on a commissioned fox.
The commissioned fox starts to take shape.

She makes sure none of the skins she purchases are from the black market.

"I'd never buy a rhino or tiger, I'm about being sustainable."

Romana has been a taxidermist for three years and is mainly self taught.

"I'm best at wolves."

"I'm never going to touch a wolf in real life.

"This is as close as I'll get and that's cool," she said of working with a wolf skin.

The wolf pelts come directly from the Inuit people and sell for up to $2500 as Romana spends a lot of time and money on tax fees and licences to bring the pelts into the country.

Medieval reenactment groups are a fruitful market wanting pelts and skins to recreate period costumes. Traditional, older buyers want an animal hard- mounted to sit on their wall.

Taxidermist Ramona Daniels skins animals at her home in Bonalbo.
Romana Daniels skins animals and restores them at her home in Bonalbo. Susanna Freymark

"I'm currently booked out for 2019." Romana said.

"I can take orders for 2020."

She plans to preserve her pet horse which is 15 years old.

"He's still alive," she laughs.

In between commissions, her son has asked for a wolverine. Who else has a mother who can make them a costume out of a real wolf?

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