1. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Do animals like the taste of leather?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Elven Candy, Dec 12, 2016.

    Hello everyone!

    So I'm writing a scene in my book, and I'm a little stumped. The main character is a dragon, and he's about to taste human-made leather. The trouble is, I don't know if he should like it or hate it (I know I have a right to decided for myself, but I'd like to make an informed decision). I googled various ways of asking if animals like the taste of leather, and all I got was anti-vegan or anti-animal-killing stuff. So, in desperation and knowing my fellow writers are fantastically smart and experienced, I decided to ask here! Do animals like the taste of leather? Specifically leather made the old-fashioned way without modern chemicals.

    Just to be clear, the leather was made by humans, not from humans.
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    What a dragon likes is really up to the author - since dragons are, you know, imaginary

    but that aside most carnivorous or ominivorous animals will eat leather if they really have to - but its tough, and lacking in nutrients since its basically skin that's been dried and treated with alum or tannin.

    Tbh if i was a dragon and had a choice of a leather shield or the warrior holding it, i'd spit the shield out and choose the latter , since he'll be squishy pink and rich in protein
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Are you sure that leather ever was made without chemicals? I realize that in the old days the chemicals wouldn't have come in packages with associated Material Safety Data Sheets, but when I Google. I read that leather was treated with salt, or tannin, or the smoke from burning green leaves and branches, and so on and so on.

    (Yes, I realize that salt might just make it tasty...)

    My vote is that he would perceive salt- or smoke- treated leather as food (as opposed to say, wood or stone, which wouldn't even count as food), but as really really bad and undesirable food. And that tannin-treated leather wouldn't be perceived as food at all.
     
  4. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Have you ever tasted leather? Try it. It is bitter, but grows on you.
     
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  5. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Haha, thanks everyone for you responses! My gut was telling me he wouldn't like it, but it's good to know readers won't go, "What, why didn't he like it?" He's tasting the leather because he watched humans pour water from a waterskin and thinks it's the organ of some animal he's never eaten before (he's in new territory). Naturally, he's curious of what it tastes like.

    I'd heard of leather being treated with the brain of the animal, but hadn't read about it being treated with salt or smoke. Interesting!
     
  6. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    You might want to do a quick search of history of humans eating leather, it is long, as long as we have had leather.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Aren't some dog toys made from leather? I know they are made from rawhide, and dogs devour them. More as a chewing thing than an eating thing, though. My cat used to enjoy the smell and presumably taste of a pair of leather gloves I had, and I was always having to keep them hidden away or she'd make off with them. However, while she chewed on them and disemboweled them, I don't thing she wanted to eat them. I think they were just an animal-smelling toy. She behaved the same way around pure wool.
     
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  8. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I know humans can boil and eat leather. I just didn't know if animals liked it. I'm just going to say the MC doesn't like the taste, because I've written it that way and like it. It's interesting to read these responses!
     
  9. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    There's many accounts of starving adventures, pioneers, and the like, boiling shoe leather and consuming it.
    It's the hide of an animal, I would think dragons would enjoy the taste.
     
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  10. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    @Iain Sparrow (the quote feature isn't working at the moment), I do know humans have boiled leather and eaten it, though all the research I've done says they only did that as a last resort. The thing is leather is dry, tough, treated animal skin, so I wasn't sure animals would enjoy the flavor or like consuming it. I suppose I could say these humans rub a bitter herb into their leather skins. It is fantasy, after all, and that could make it more believable. I just need to add that it tasted bitter to the story . . .
     
  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As @ChickenFreak already notes, just because the current process uses what we think of as "chemicals" - which is a broad way of encapsulating the idea of "artificial" or "man made" - doesn't mean the old way didn't also use chemicals. Everything is chemicals and whether they are derived from natural sources or not is really more of a description of how much refining is involved because, in the end, everything is derived from natural sources.

    Leather is tanned with chemicals that are naturally bitter. Bitter taste, in nature, is a red flag for "I'm going to make you sick". :dead: Humans teach themselves to like bitter things (coffee, red wines), but this is really contrary to how our brains are naturally wired to react to bitter. Read up on bitter and how we taught ourselves not to spit it out. :blech: It's actually kinda' fascinating. :bigwink:

    Anywho... your dragon would just need to like bitter to be cool with it.
     
  12. Quanta

    Quanta Senior Member

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    My dog likes to destroy leather shoes and gloves. I've also had a horse chew a leather rein to pulp. I think it's the feeling of chewing leather that's most pleasant to animals. The bitter taste might not repel animals as it does humans. Ever tasted a big old dandelion leaf? Ew! But my horses are crazy for them.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    As a random factlet, apparently grazing animals do, however, prefer lower bitterness if they can get it. A garden writer wrote about her experiments with breeding dandelions for eating, and mentioned that the deer would walk right past the patches of wild dandelions, to eat the low-bitter ones that she was breeding.
     

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