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Encyclopedia > Animal hides

Hides are skins obtained from animals that are used for human consumption. Examples of animal hide souces are deer and cattle typically used for producing leather, alligator skins, snake skins and wild cats, minks and bears, whose skins are primarily sought for their fur. In India leather is produced from cattle hides at home/ small scale. Various tannins are used for this purpose. On large scale also leather making is done.



Anthropologists believe that animal hides provided an important source of clothing for prehistoric humans. Animal hides were also frequently believed to be used for shelter by primordial peoples.

American Indians (few of the tribes) used to build houses from animal hides. The arctic indians also used this fur for their houses

Animal hides have always been used as a status symbol. Fur was used to demonstrate wealth. Natural leather is used in many expensive products, including limousines and designer mobiles phones.


Wild animals are killed and skinned. Their hides are dried and tanned. (used in the past). More cost-effective today is to grow animals in captivity and then kill them.

Sable fur is produced in Russia and is one of the most expensive.


Fur and hides find their main use today as clothing, particularly coats. They are valued for their warmth, and as a status symbol. Ermine fur was historically popular in ceremonial clothes of European monarchs. The black-tipped tails were arranged around the edges of robes, producing the familiar pattern of black diamonds on a white field. Because of this use, "ermine" became a term in heraldry, to mean a white field strewn with small bell-shaped designs called ermine-spots.

Hides have also been used to build canoes and tents, as simple window panes, and as material for writing. For example, many Medieval books were written on vellum parchment.

Rabbit fur was once a popular material to make hats from, as was beaver.


Animal rights activists protest use of animal hides in clothing. They use a variety of tactics from persuasion (a campaign with celebrities posing naked with a slogan "I would rather go naked than wear fur") to coersion (spraying people wearing fur clothes with paint).

There are many artificial replacements for animal hides, including artificial fur and artificial leather. Their quality and the quality of other replacements is often comparable to that of the natural product.

  Results from FactBites:
Leather tanning information (810 words)
Animal skins or hides are first "cured," a process which involves salting and/or drying the hide once it's been stripped from the animal.
After soaking, animal hides are moved through a machine which strips the flesh from the surface of the hide.
The hides are then transported to a large vat, where they are immersed in a mixture of lime and water, which loosens the hair from the skin.
  More results at FactBites »



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