Owl Pellet Dissection

Owl Pellet Dissection by Sciencedipity

Owl Pellet Dissection

 

Before you carry out an owl pellet dissection,  its important to have some background knowledge of what an owl pellet is. Here we also explain how to clean your boney finds!

 

What is an owl pellet?

An Owl Pellet is the indigestible parts of it meal that owls regurgitate after eating. Each pellet can contain fur, bones, teeth, claws, and seeds.

 

Why do owls make pellets?

Owls can’t chew their food as they have no teeth! They swallow it whole, where it ends up in their stomach, and enzymes start to break it down. The parts of food it can digest move into the intestines where nutrients will be absorbed. However, the owl can not digest the bones and fur of its meal, so these remain in another area near the stomach called the gizzard for a few hours. Before the owl can eat again it must regurgitate this indigested food, and it does that in the form of a pellet.

 

 

Dissecting owl pellets

At our Brilliant Biology Online club and other workshops we run, you can dissect owl pellets and identify the bones with us, using our ID chart. The pellets we buy in are sterilised by heat treating to kill any bacteria, and come wrapped in foil. This makes them safe for you to handle.

 

The pellets we buy for our clubs are wrapped in foil because they have been sterilised.

 

If you can’t attend our club, then you can purchase owl pellet kits from us by clicking here (just £6 including postage) and dissect out the bones using the forceps in the kit. We also supply cocktail sticks which are useful to push debris out of crevices and sockets in the bones. Carefully remove the fur, and then gently rinse the bones in water to remove any last bits of dirt. 

Lay the bones out carefully and use the ID chart (that comes in the kit) to help work out wheat the little bones are. Bear in mind that the bones you have found may be from one animal, so the jaw bones may have been attached from the skull in your pellet!

 

Here are the bones I found just after dissecting them from the pellet. They are now ready for cleaning.

 

BUY THE OWL PELLET DISSECTING KIT HERE

 

CHECK OUT OUR LITTLE SHOP FOR OTHER SCIENCE GOODIES HERE

 

How to clean the bones

Once you have dissected your pellet, and identified the bones, you can clean them to make them white and keep them. Some people make jewellery with them, or pop them in tiny glass bottles, or embed them in resin to create decorative items. To make the bones white, you will need 3% hydrogen peroxide from the pharmacy. Dilute the required amount of hydrogen peroxide with 2 thirds water (thereby making a 1% solution of hydrogen peroxide) and add it to a glass jar, pop the bones in, and you’ll see bubble start to form pretty quickly.

 

Bones in a weak hydrogen peroxide solution.

 

Bubbles appear once in the cleaning solution – this is normal.

 

Let this sit for a day and you should have clean bones in 24 hours. When clean, rinse them in water, and put them somewhere safe to dry. 

After 24 hours, rinse the bones off in water, then place them onto a paper towel to dry

 

 

 

Now your bones are clean and preserved. Store them in a box, pot or box.

BUY THE OWL PELLET DISSECTING KIT HERE

 

CHECK OUT OUR LITTLE SHOP FOR OTHER SCIENCE GOODIES HERE

 

 


Find out about our clubs

To see what other science workshops we have coming up locally, click here.

How about our award winning online clubs and classes where we send you the kit – the Brilliant Biology club includes the owl pellet kit.

 


Want free science activities?

Head on over to our blog to find out other cool science experiments such as Bath Bombs and Slime  and the Magic Milk Experiment  

 


 

If you have any queries, please call/text Ruth on 07847006048 or contact us here.

 

Happy science-ing

Ruth

Chief Scientist  

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