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
The pellets we buy in for our workshops are sterilised by heat treating to kill any bacteria, and come wrapped in foil. This makes them safe for you to handle. You can now buy these pellets from us in kits which contain our unique ID chart, dissecting tools and a little pot to store your boney finds!
You can purchase owl pellet kits from us by clicking here 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!
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.
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.
Now your bones are clean and preserved. Store them in a box, pot or box.
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