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.

14 comments:

Lola Biddle said...

Hello Jana! I been following your blog and your work on IG for over two years now. You're an amazing individual who I believe, help others gain a better understanding of nature. Some of your posts have inspired me to have more patience with all creatures. You're a wonderful being ^_^
I do have a question, i thought you might be able to help solve. Do deer have a baculum? I've tried doing some research online- but of course the searches keep bring me back to mink and raccoons. And if possible do you have link with some references? Thanks!

Jana Miller said...

Hi Lola, thanks a lot!

No, deer do not have bacula.

From wikipedia - "Mammals having a penile bone (in males) include:
• Order Primates, although not in humans or spider monkeys.
• Order Rodentia (rodents), though not in the related order Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares etc.).
• Order Insectivora (insectivores, including moles, shrews, and hedgehogs).
• Order Carnivora (including members of many well-known families, such as ursids (bears), felids (cats), canids (dogs), pinnipeds (walruses, seals, sea lions), procyonids (raccoons etc.),mustelids (otters, weasels, skunks and others).The baculum is usually longer in Canoidea than in Feloidea.
• Order Chiroptera (bats).
It is absent in humans, ungulates (which is what deer are), elephants, monotremes, marsupials, lagomorphs, hyenas,and cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), among others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baculum

See this link for a good example of diff ones from a variety of species:

https://www.facebook.com/SlaterMuseum/posts/478280788902947

Jana Miller said...

Hi Lola, thanks a lot!

No, deer do not have bacula.

From wikipedia - "Mammals having a penile bone (in males) include:
• Order Primates, although not in humans or spider monkeys.
• Order Rodentia (rodents), though not in the related order Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares etc.).
• Order Insectivora (insectivores, including moles, shrews, and hedgehogs).
• Order Carnivora (including members of many well-known families, such as ursids (bears), felids (cats), canids (dogs), pinnipeds (walruses, seals, sea lions), procyonids (raccoons etc.),mustelids (otters, weasels, skunks and others).The baculum is usually longer in Canoidea than in Feloidea.
• Order Chiroptera (bats).
It is absent in humans, ungulates (which is what deer are), elephants, monotremes, marsupials, lagomorphs, hyenas,and cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), among others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baculum

See this link for a good example of diff ones from a variety of species:

https://www.facebook.com/SlaterMuseum/posts/478280788902947

carapar56 said...

Hey Jana, I've been frequenting your blog more as I get more into preserving animal bones. I just wanted to know if you had any advice for trying to preserve a mouse/rat baby skull? I found a half eaten carcass outside of my home of either a mouse or a rat baby and I wanted to try and preserve the skull. I know all the basics and I have a large female deer that I did nicely but I've never done something nearly this small. The skull is probably maybe an inch in length. I don't think it still has its eyes and its noise has been eaten away, exposing the bone. Could I simply skin it, remove as much tissue as possible and macerate for a couple of days? I understand maceration can break down small bones but if I don't leave it for too long do you think it could work? Thanks so much, please reply asap as for the moment the mouse is chilling in my freezer.

Jana Miller said...

Hi, As it mentions here I'm honestly not nearly as good at processing tiny animals. Best way for you to learn what works best for you is practice. You could wet it just enough to try to carefully deflesh yourself. In my experience mouse/rat skulls can break apart during maceration, but not always. They younger the animal, the more likely it will come apart. Maceration takes quite a while to start happening, no matter the animal. so there's not really such thing as macerating a little bit. The bacteria doesn't really do its work properly for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

Good luck! jana

Archerygirl97 said...

How old were you when you started collecting bones?
Abigail

Jana Miller said...

My second blog post here is actually about that. :) I was 7 years old. http://bone-lust.blogspot.com/2009/04/bone-collecting-from-beginning.html

Nathan said...

Dear jana,
Today was my best day of bone collecting EVER! 2 deer skulls, 2 deer jaws, half an raccoon skull, a few deer toes and a perfect crow head!!

My question was what is the best way to rot down the crow head? it still has all the flesh and feathers and hasnt rotted at all. its very cold in the north right now so anything will have to wait to spring.

Also i came across an 8point whitetail buck and was wondering if macerating it would hurt the antlers? i have alot of expercience in rotting down bodies but no expercience with bird skulls. hopeing you can help! Nathan

Nathan said...

Dear jana,
I was wonderin how to rot the meat off a crow skull?
i just got it yesterday but its a fresh skull that hasent started to rot yet, what do you think would be the best way to go about this??

Jana Miller said...

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 blog post about this sometime for sure. As well as a longer post about legal issues related to bone collecting.

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.

List of species covered by the MBTA - http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/regulationspolicies/mbta/MBTANDX.HTML

Roxxie Rampage said...

Hey :)
I I've been looking for some info about anole skulls. I'm looking to expand my collection and been looking into little skulls like this, but I have no idea what they're worth. Could you help me out?

Jana Miller said...

Roxxie Rampage, there are so many factor involved in skull pricing. Species, demand, condition, complete or not, supply and demand etc. I've never seen anone sell anole skulls honestly so I have no idea.

jackie fitzgerald said...

Hello Jana, I recently came across an adult Australian water dragon who had passed away due to old age. He's approximately 24" in length and I was wondering if you could tell me if it would be safe to use maceration as a method of bone prossessing or if it would be better to view him as a small reptile and remove the flesh and muscles by cutting it away.

Jana Miller said...

jackie fitzgerald -Not unless you plan on piecing the skull back together. There's a good chance it would fall apart in maceration. You'll want to either deflesh carefully by hand or invest in dermestids or find someone that already has them.