Favorite Things: Tiffany Hannay and her taxidermy opposum

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Tiffany Hannay is a musician who performs as the rhythm guitarist and lead singer of the Lansing rock group Rodeo Boys. When she’s not rocking the microphone or the six-string, she’s working in lumber and volunteering at wildlife rescues. Her favorite thing is a taxidermy opossum that she has named “Dixie.”

It was 2016, and I found this opossum on the side of the road — a car had recently struck it. My girlfriend at the time helped me load it into a bag. We took it to Nick Saade, who is a local taxidermy guy, and he mounted it for me. It’s the only opossum he’s ever done, he told me. It’s not the grossest process ever, but it’s kind of gross. I thought, “Maybe I can do it myself.”

I quickly realized there was absolutely no way I was going to do that by myself.  Their skin is tanned and cured and it is put over a sort of mannequin. There are only two different mannequin styles for opossums, but there are 400 different ones for deer or more popular animals. Most people don’t get opossums mounted.  I named mine Dixie.

It’s not my first taxidermy; I’ve got a big mouth bass and a couple of deer heads. But it is the first I’ve had made for myself. I like animals a lot and I think taxidermy is cool. It’s a little kitschy, and I’m into that sort of thing. The big mouth bass is my dad’s, I’ve inherited it and taken it to every house I’ve lived in throughout my 20’s.

My love for opossums started when I was growing up in the country out in Leslie. I remember one time this hillbilly boy came over when I was 15 or 16; he killed one in front of me and I was really upset about it. I always thought they were cool and I learned more about them. They’re actually really sweet. They are probably the most domesticated wild animals. I started volunteering at a wildlife center and really started to get to know them.

One of the opossums at the center I volunteer at is named Jasper and he got too friendly for them to release. The un-releasable opossums go onto the educational program. Before the COVID times, we would take him to schools and stuff, and he’s got a leash so we can take him for walks. He’s really friendly. Opossums do this thing called “slubbing,” where they lick you and rub their heads on you. Some people think it’s gross but I think it’s sweet.

Interview edited and condensed by Skyler Ashley, if you have a suggestion for Favorite Things, please email Skyler@Lansingcitypulse.com

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