Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BONELUST BLOG QUICK LINKS - Answers For Your Bone Processing Questions Are Here

BONELUST CUSTOM ORDER: Pet Processing for a customer - Menoh. Only part of the skeleton is pictured & it arrived with missing teeth.

Apologies in advance! I get countless messages in many online locations daily about bone processing, bone ID, etc. Please try to find your answers in these links before messaging me. If you still have questions you are welcome to ask but I may not reply for a while.

Sorry guys, I'm a full time self employed bone artist and simply do not have the time to always get back to your questions in a timely fashion. Especially when it is a time where I have to really focus on something like holiday sales. Which start for me in October. Or an art show or convention that could be any time of the year.

Please take note of the SEARCH THIS BLOG field to the right here where you can quickly search for answers in my many posts rather than having to look for it one at a time. 

BONELUST PERSONAL COLLECTION: Parakeet Skull. This domestic bird is one that's entirely legal to have in your collection. ��♥��


I really hardly ever post anything anywhere in general about birds because of legal issues. Most birds you're going to come across in US/Canada are illegal to have any part of dead or alive because they are Migratory Bird Treaty Act protected species. If you were to macerate most birds you're likely going to end up with nothing but a stinky pile of mush. To process birds, rodents & small reptiles/amphibians you can't really macerate like larger medium sized animals. You literally have to carefully remove the feathers, skin & muscle with surgical tools, tweezers & scissors as best you can. I rarely do this myself because it is so tedious. If it is mummified it may be even harder to accomplish. Or you can soak a while in water & if you're lucky you can carefully peel away the skin from the bones & just hope that most of the muscle was already eaten away by carrion insects. I'll have to make a longer blog post about this sometime for sure. But for now there's this one:

BONELUST PERSONAL COLLECTION: A new rodent skull addition to my personal collection - Golden Hamster AKA Syrian Hamster, Mesocricetus auratus. It is approx 1.5" long. ♥��♥


Most of the birds protected by the MBTA are not endangered. They are very common and abundant. But that was not the case when the MBTA was created back in 1918. Many common birds were being wiped out into extinction from people hunting them and collecting them & their eggs/nests for their collections. And people using the feathers in fashion. That's the misconception that most people don't understand now. The species that are alive now were saved from extinction by the MBTA. That's why they are so common and abundant now.

It is illegal in US, Canada, Mexico, Russia and Japan to even possess bird remains of species listed on the MBTA. We can not have or sell birds, feathers, bones, eggs, or even nests from anything on that protected list. Likewise, you could be fined up to $15,000 and/or do jail time for having/selling them. So be careful!

Your legal common bird options are - European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), chickens and other domesticated birds and birds like quail, grouse and pheasants. But some of those game birds you still need permits to hunt and can not be sold.

I want to point out as well that there are MANY pigeon/dove species that ARE protected species and many people have a misconception that they are not. Only Feral Pigeons are OK to have. Also, people often mention that crows are hunted and OK to have. Not that simple. You must have a permit to hunt where they are permitted to hunt and do so in season. Also, hunted crows can not be sold, they can only be gifted. Info about Regulations For Crows.

Final List of Bird Species to Which the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Does Not Apply - Note though that it is somewhat out of date - file orig dated 2005, PDF from 2008. Could be changes since then.

Tons More Animal Parts Laws Can Be Found Here. Here in the US you can quickly look up info on your exact state at the link above which is especially helpful with some laws being so varied from state to state.

BONELUST PERSONAL COLLECTION: The smaller of the 2 snake skulls I posted a couple days ago cleaned up beautifully!. Exact species unknown. But I was told it is from the Colubridae family. I took this photo at an angle to show you how the jawbones don't co

Here is a list of my most frequented blog posts and topics related to the questions I get for quicker reference to find your answers.


BONELUST BONE PROCESSING Q&A: I want to start collecting bones/animal remains but I'm concerned about disease.

Most Important Thing For a Bone Collector? Patience. 

Starting Over, Learning Anew

Bone Collectors Are Not Sociopaths

BONELUST Q&A: "Can't you get leprosy from armadillos?


BONELUST Q&A: "Can I just leave animals to decompose in a bone cage & do nothing else?" 


BONELUST BONE PROCESSING Q&A: What should the remains look like to begin maceration?

The Mathematics Of Maceration - A HowTo Guide For The Patient 

BONELUST Q&A: "I've been macerating bones & they are now a strange color! Are they ruined?"

BONELUST Q&A: "What's this white stuff on my bones? How do I get rid of it?" 


Whitening Bone Using Hydrogen Peroxide NOT Chlorine Bleach

Bad Words: BOIL & BLEACH


Bad Words: BOIL & BLEACH


BONELUST Q&A: "Why is it bad to boil bones? It is the way I was taught to clean them a long time ago."

Bad Words: BOIL & BLEACH


BONELUST Q&A: "What's this white stuff on my bones? How do I get rid of it?" 

BONELUST Q&A: "I've been macerating bones & they are now a strange color! Are they ruined?"

Whitening Bone Using Hydrogen Peroxide NOT Chlorine Bleach


BONELUST Q&A: "How will I know if a skull needs degreasing, I'm not sure what it even looks like?"


BONELUST Q&A: "The teeth fell out of my skull! Did I do something wrong? How do I fix it?"

BONELUST Q&A: "How do I put mandibles back together & teeth in?"


"Stick it on an ant pile!"

BONELUST Q&A: "Do you use dermestid beetles?"


Meet Jana Miller: Founder & Artist of Bone Lust

BONELUST Q&A: What do you mean when you say you’re an ethical bone artist?

BONELUST BONE ART SHOP Q&A: Who is your animal bone supplier?

Jana Miller Bone Lust Interview on Postal Treats

Bone Collecting from the Beginning

BONELUST PERSONAL COLLECTION: Another new rodent skull addition to my collection. Woodchuck (Marmota monax) AKA groundhog or marmot

Friday, May 15, 2015

BONELUST Q&A: "I've been macerating bones & they are now a strange color! Are they ruined?"

Maceration is the process of purification to remove the remaining flesh from bone. It is the easiest & least expensive way to do this while still leaving bones in good condition. Note that this process is typically best for animals larger than a rat. Smaller bones can turn to mush during maceration as they themselves start to break down.

To macerate you take your animal remains that have very minimal flesh on them (never a whole animal!), add them to a plastic container & fill with plain tap water then replace the tight fitted lid. The lid is important because you don't want insect larvae in your maceration water only the bacteria that will grow and eat away the flesh. You also don't want to leave it out in the rain without a lid or you'll get algae growing. Insect larvae & algae with both start to break down and possibly even stain the bone.

The more flesh on the remains the longer this process will take. Somewhere around 2 weeks the bones should be coated with a film that's pink, red, rust, brown or black. That's normal & means the bacteria is working to remove the flesh. The bacteria may however be dead now though so time to change the water if still fleshy and start the process again, or time to start peroxide bath if done. Pour out only half on the nasty water and add fresh water to fill the rest of the container if the maceration is not done yet.

These deer bones were covered with a bright red film because they were left for too long in the maceration process, on accident. They were completely flesh free though. Thankfully I just hosed the film right off then started the peroxide step to get rid of the awful smell.

The odd colored film you see on your bones is a residue of the bacteria or the bacteria itself coating the bone. It does this when the water runs out of oxygen for the bacteria to survive. Referred to as the bacteria going anaerobic. This anaerobic bacteria in maceration replaces the microbes that were doing the maceration work of defleshing the bones. And therefore the maceration process has come to a halt.

It can be caused by too many microbes using up all of the oxygen in the water or it can be from an oily film on top of the water that keeps oxygen from entering the water. Some ways to prevent this are - larger quantities of water, changing the water or a bubbler. It commonly happens to marine mammal remains during maceration because of the high oil content in their bones rising to the top of the water.

This is a potbelly pig skull that started off lightly mummified that soaked undisturbed for 2 weeks. The maceration water was still fairly clear and yet the skull was turning black. I've found that when there is little flesh to work with or very old flesh this can happen. Sometimes the black film easily hoses off or goes away once the bone dries. In this case though it took a peroxide bath to remove the black coloration. 

Raccoon bone that was pulled out of maceration. It was dropped into peroxide and pulled out an hour later to show how fast the peroxide can get rid of the staining. It can in most cases happen instantly.

"Before" of diamondback rattlesnake bones straight out of maceration.

"After" of same diamondback rattlesnake bones after a peroxide bath.

The maceration water needs to be kept at a certain temp to work. It will not work in the Winter in most locations because it is too cold for the bacteria to survive. It will also die off if it gets too hot in warmer months. For exact temperatures & more extensive info about this see this blogspot blog.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BONELUST Q&A: "What's this white stuff on my bones? How do I get rid of it?"

What you are seeing here on this rabbit skull is called adipocere AKA corpse wax, grave wax or mortuary wax. It is a crumbly, waxy, water-insoluble material consisting mostly of saturated fatty acids.  

BONELUST Q&A: "What's this white stuff on my bones? How do I get rid of it?" What you are seeing here on this rabbit skull is called adipocere AKA corpse wax, grave wax or mortuary wax.

Adipocere is the product of a chemical reaction in which fats react with water and hydrogen in the presence of bacterial enzymes, breaking down into fatty acids and soaps. Adipocere is resistant to bacteria and can protect a corpse, slowing further decomposition. The transformation of fats into adipocere occurs best in an environment that has an absence of oxygen and high levels of moisture. Adipocere formation begins within a month of death, and, in the absence of air, it can persist for centuries.

It is not uncommon for adipocere to be found on bones. Either found in a natural setting or while being processed. I've found that the best time to remove it is either A) when the bones are freshly out of maceration or peroxide and you use a toothbrush to literally brush the adipocere off while submerged in water or B) After the bones have been degreased, had a peroxide bath and then dried. The adipocere become less waxy and more flaky and you can more easily remove it with your fingernail or again, with a toothbrush. This time dry.

Be careful how much force you use on a bone with a brush or fingernail. This rabbit skull for example is going to be a real challenge for me to remove the adipocere as it is a very thin/fragile skull.