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.
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.
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.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
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."
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
Friday, September 20, 2013
Carrion insects have always been a part of my bone processing but I’ve never had a captive colony of any kind. For a while I had a wild colony of dermestid beetles/larvae helping me clean. As long as I supplied them with new food they stuck around. But I’ve not yet had a captive colony. Ever since that episode of Oddities with the dermestid beetles in a NY apartment I constantly see beginner collectors talking about getting them to clean bones & it makes me cringe.
Sorry but I don't agree that the best way to remove flesh from bones of an animal carcass is by using dermestid beetles. Many that suggests them too frequently neglect to also mention their care, upkeep and not to mention that while dermestid cleaned bones are beautifully flesh free they are also usually absolutely grease saturated. A step that's often completely skipped by me is degreasing because my maceration process often takes care of it. And to be honest I abhor bone degreasing. It is VERY time consuming and tedious. I'm also quite confused how the Oddities episode skips degreasing completely and goes straight from beetle defleshing to the Hydrogen Peroxide bath. As a longtime experienced bone collector/processor I know that scene must be missing or you'll end up with a grease saturated skull in most cases. Wanted to note that I actually do know Ryan and Monique that were in that episode, so I'm by far giving anyone hell... just wanted to point out some important factual things about bone processing and dermestid beetles that I feel were not mentioned in that episode of Oddities.
I still had to macerate this spine after dermestid defleshing because the cartilage was still between the vertebrae.
Care and upkeep of these beetles is far harder than people realize. I can’t recommend against it more if you are a beginner bone collector. Unless you actually need them for smaller animals & have a constant food supply for them, and are REALLY good at pet care I don’t ever suggest them to anyone. Plus, the maceration process is so easy & inexpensive in comparison. You literally need reg tap water, a tight lidded plastic container & patience.
Dermestid beetle care is far more complicated. They need very specific maintained temperatures, humidity, have to keep them free of parasitic mites, have to keep predators from them like spiders, need food/water, proper bedding, lighting, ventilation and enclosure... and so much more. I am currently working on setting up my first captive colony but only after a LOT of online research, talking to friends that successfully have healthy colonies & even located an out-of-print book on the topic. And I’m still not sure if I will be able to keep them alive but I will give it my best shot. The thought of them dying because I can’t properly care for them kills me. So I’ve prepared for this for literally years. Not haphazardly bought a starter colony online at a whim. If I'm successful I will post a followup blog.
There is a great misconception that feeding them alone is enough. Just drop a fleshy skull into your enclosure and you’re done. Or that cleaning bone is super fast and easy with a colony. Far from the truth. It takes a colony of literally 1000s of adults/larvae to even clean a med sized animal head. The larvae actually do most of the work but you need the adults to make more larvae
So this was just a little PSA to REALLY do your research. They need care just like any other kind of pet. Also, if they get loose in your home they can eat a whole lot of other things in every common household besides dried flesh. I've actually lost a lot of my personal collections in the past of smaller bones and insects to wild colonies invading my home. And yes, adults can fly. So you’ve been warned! haha
For more info on the topics discussed here clink on the links in the post to go to my related extensive posts.