Saturday, March 15, 2014

BONELUST Q&A: "How do I get the bones from this small animal?"

This is one of the smallest skulls in my collection at approx .5" long, from a Carolina Anole. The fact that I have some of these in good condition & complete is quite a task for me.

Give me an entire adult deer & I can process it for the bones no problem. But it is the tiny reptiles, amphibians, rodents, birds & etc that I have the hardest time processing. You can't macerate like you do with medium sized animals (raccoon, opossum, etc) & up (deer, boar, cattle). The bones can literally be eaten up by the bacteria that defleshes larger bones.

You also can't simply let dermestid beetles help with a skeleton this small and forget about it. I tried, and this is all they left me from 8 full lizards. Although I may try that again with a more controlled environment where I watch more closely with fewer beetles.

In the meantime, it comes down to painstakingly slowly & carefully removing the flesh by hand with tweezers & scalpel after rehydrating it with plain water. A very tedious process. Once I myself take the time to master this process I will make a blog about it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

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

First off, always be sanitary when handling any dead animals to process for their bone. Wear high quality waterproof gloves. Don't touch anything dead then cross contaminate like touching your face, clothes, steering wheel, or anything you may touch once you remove the gloves later. See my related blog post for more info on the sanitary concerns of bone processing/collecting.

Nine-banded Armadillo Young & My Foot - Dasypus novemcinctus
From back in 2003, a litter of armadillo were born under my house.

Armadillos are unfortunate in that are among the few known species that can contract leprosy. I want to stress the word CAN here. No, not all armadillos are carriers of leprosy as far too many people believe. But they can get it just as humans, mangabey monkeys, rabbits and mice can. It is too often misunderstood that all armadillos have the disease, they do not.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 15th century, leprosy was unknown in the New World. Given that armadillos are native to the New World, at some point they must have acquired the disease from humans. This is a scientific fact. So it is a matter of susceptibility NOT that one species alone is the main carrier spreading the disease. 

"Oh Hai" Nine-banded 
Armadillo Young - Dasypus novemcinctus

In order for a human to get leprosy from an armadillo it has to be infected first of all. Secondly you'd have to eat and/or heavily handle it. Armadillo to human spread cases are concentrated in Louisiana and Texas, where some people hunt, skin and eat armadillos.

Only about 150 to 250 people in the United States each year even get leprosy and not all of those cases were caused by armadillos. So, just be very careful when handling an armadillo dead or alive and avoid eating it and you're very unlikely to ever get it. Approximately 95% of people are naturally immune to the disease anyway and sufferers are no longer infectious after as little as two weeks of treatment if the disease is recognized and treated early on.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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

BONELUST Q&A: "Why is is bad to boil bones? It is the way I was taught to clean them a long time ago." I took these surplus deer leg bones & scapula to show you why. After only a couple hours of boiling them I could push my finger through these large prev

I took these surplus deer leg bones & scapula to show you why. After only a couple hours of boiling them I could push my finger through these large previously very solid deer leg bones with no effort & bend the scapula right in half. A rolling boil is very detrimental to the structure of bones. You literally cook off tiny pieces that hold it together. Even a very low heated slow simmer can eventually destroy bones. Especially ones smaller than these. I think many people learned the oldschool word-of-mouth techniques of bone processing which are to boil & bleach them. Even I started of experimenting with that & quickly found out it was a terribly bad idea. I've spent the last 35 years processing my own bones & now use the most delicate processes to keep them structurally sound for the long run. I share this priceless info freely with you so that you don't make the same mistakes I did. Stick to cold water maceration to have strong solid bones. Just takes more patience. Even if you don't see obvious damage to your bones after using a heated water process you have likely caused structural damage to your bone. Bone simply is not meant to be heated unless you are cooking off the flesh to eat & don't intend to keep the bones.

For much more info about this & why chlorine bleach is also bad read my related blog post Bad Words: Bleach & Boil