내 책은 지금 한국에서 발표되었습니다! 자세한 내용은 여기를 참조하십시오.
My book is now published in South Korea ! Read more here.
내 책은 지금 한국에서 발표되었습니다! 자세한 내용은 여기를 참조하십시오.
My book is now published in South Korea ! Read more here.

How I clean up animal bones

Jake
Jake
Jake


Important: This blog post from 2009 is now out of date because I have written a much bigger and better post about everything I know about cleaning bones from five years of bone collecting. You can read it by clicking here or by clicking on the "Cleaning bones" tab at the top of every page.

Most of bones I collect are mostly clean already, because all the flesh has been eaten off them already by animals and bugs. But they all need cleaning up a little bit, and this is how I do it. This is how I cleaned up the skeleton of the red deer that I found here.

Starting off



After I brought back the bones, I put them in a bucket to store them. This is about half of them. All together, the bones filled this bucket. There were 157 bone parts in all.



Getting the dirt off



All the bones had dirt, bugs and pine needles on them. I took out the small and delicate bones, and washed the rest with a hosepipe and a brush to get the worst off.

Hydrogen peroxide



One of the most important steps is to leave them in peroxide, which is an acid oxidiser, for about a week. This makes the bones go white and nice. When you use new peroxide, you see it bubbling, and it can burn your hands, so daddy has to do it. After a while, the peroxide just turns into dirty water, and you need to get some new bottles. Here you can see all the bones in the peroxide, with the red deer skull and the split roe deer skull on top.

Rinsing the bones



We left these ones in the peroxide for about a week. When we took them out, we rinsed them in fresh water to get the peroxide off. If you don't rinse them, you get a white powder on the outside.

Drying the bones



After we rinsed them, Dad and I went through each bone, dried them, and got any last bits of dirt off with a toothbrush. Then we left the bones to dry inside on old newspaper. You need to leave them for at least two days inside. If you don't dry , you can get white fuzzy bits growing on them.

Gluing the bones



After the bones dried I started to put some of the bits back together with glue. Here is a front and a back metatarsal. Because it was a young deer, the ends of the bones weren't properly fused, and had to be glued back together. I held the bits together with elastic bands while we did that,



In young deer, the bottom of the braincase isn't fused on. Here you see the skull with the bottom bit to the left in the middle. I glued that back on carefully.



Here are some more of the bones we glued back together. You can see the toes(the front and back bits come apart in young deer), the hips (which we found in four pieces - all young deer hips seem to do this), the jaws (they always come apart into two bits, however old), the leg bones and one of the next bones which was fractured.

Storing the bones



After we did all that, we put the bones in a special box, so they wouldn't get lost or mixed up with other bones. We called this deer Alice. we haven't given any other deer names, but it was getting confusing without names. We also put on the box where and when we found them.

Now that we've done some of the glueing, I think we have 139 different bits of bones, but there are still some bits to be glued together. And I think I know how this deer died, but I'll write more about that later.

Enjoy this post ? Share it !


127 comments :

Anonymous said...

hi there, great site
I'v just found a squirrels carcass, but its got too much hair on it still, how I can I get it out?

ALKAEST04@yahoo.ca

Jake said...

Hi there ! Some people would take the skin and flesh off, but I'd leave it to rot, either in the woods, or burying it, or putting it in a bucket of water (it will smell if you do that). Some times you can boil it too to get the flesh off.

Clara said...

If you leave the bones in a small box outside with the lid off, flies and other bugs will find it and remove the flesh by eating it. I am doing this with a fox carcass at the moment. It doesnt smell too good but after a week the skin is sloughing off and bone is now clearly visible. Thats having found the fox about 12 hours after death so not bad going if you ask me. Good luck!

Great site Jake - your a biology PhD in the making!

Anonymous said...

Hello.I have just found the skull and teeth of a deer...

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Mahala and I have found a skeleton of a fox and a chicken in the bush at the back of my dads place. I am 9 and I live in Australia.I really like your site :)

Jake said...

Hi Anonymous - do you know what kind of deer it is ?

Hi Mahala - that's a cool name ! Fox skeletons are cool. I wish I had a whole fox skeleton. Have you cleaned it up yet ?

Lin said...

Hi Jake!

Just wanted to say thank you for the advice on cleaning bones. I live at the beach in California, and found a sea lion decomposing one day. I grabbed the vertebrae, but they were just sitting in my spare bathroom being a bit stinky. Now they will go into some hydrogen peroxide and be pretty!
Lin

Jake said...

Hi Lin,

Sea lions have amazing skulls. They look a bit like real lions !

Hydrogen peroxide is good at making bones go white. You can buy it at places where hairdressers buy their chemicals. Don't get it on your fingers because it can make them go white for a bit. Dad does all my stuff with the chemicals. The other way of doing it is putting them in with a biological washing powder. That will stop the smell. Then you can make them white with the peroxide.

Anonymous said...

hi jake,
my name is taylor i just found my first rabbit skull.
thanks jake for the information about cleaning the skull.
i realy like your site.

Jake said...

Hi Taylor,

Thank you! I started off collecting rabbit skulls because they were so easy to find. But I haven't written about them much here. I should do a post on rabbit bones !

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,

I have started using bones in the jewellery I make and recently was given the bones of a badger and two fox skulls with all the teeth.
! I really like your site, I am inspired to carry on bone collecting!

From Claudia

Jake said...

Hi Claudia,

Thank you for saying so. Badger and fox skulls are very cool. I don't have a fox skull with lower jaws yet, but I will have once this fox rots down.

I think bone collecting a loads of fun and I am glad you enjoy it too.

From

Jake

Veruca Assault said...

Jake, I'm so impressed by your interest in collecting and preserving, and am in awe of your extensive set! I consider bones a rare buried treasure, because I don't see them often around here and when I do I feel I've struck gold! I refuse to kill anything so finding bones is so much more precious. Your site is helping me to learn the best techniques for preservation and inspiring me to get out there and search for more! Around here, animals' rights to live and die naturally are sadly not always observed; there is way too much hunting and way to many animals are hit by vehicles.

One thing I have always wanted is a crow skeleton. I identify with crows somehow, and they seem to uphold some spirituality in me. Whenever I see one I am filled with such admiration. I was wondering-- do you come upon any of those there? Could I possibly... pay you to send me even just a crow skull if you could find one? It would mean so much to me.

Your Fellow Bone Lover,

Alexandra Molina (21)
Florida, USA

Jake said...

HI Alexandra,

Thank you for all the nice things you said. We get crows here in Scotland, together with ravens, rooks, jackdaws, choughs and magpies. The gamekeepers try to capture and kill all of them (apart from choughs which are protected) because they eat pheasant eggs.

At the moment I've only got one magpie and one crow skull, but if I get another crow skull I'll let you know !

Craig said...

I found part of a buck and it has tissue on it how do you get rid of tissue

Jake said...

There are lots of ways. The best way is to leave it outside where bugs and flies can get to it, or you can bury it underground, but this might stain the bone. You could also leave it to soak in some biological washing powder. If that doesn't work, try simmering it in very hot water for a bit (that's a gross way of doing it).

Anonymous said...

Very cool blog, have you ever considered trying to make a full skeleton (connecting the bones with wire).
I'm a chemist in my day job and I just wanted to say that some other compounds would work very well for bleaching the bones. Hydrogen peroxide would work pretty well for dissolving some stains, but if you really want to bleach them I would try using benzoyl peroxide (which is sold as a acne fighting product) it would bleach the bones much faster and also would not burn your skin as readily.
One last thing is that the peroxides are in fact not acids but are oxidizers which means they like to pull electrons off of less electronegative compounds.

Jake said...

Hi Anonymous,

I haven't tried to make a full skeleton. I think it's quite quite difficult to do.

Thanks for all the other information !

Nikki Firestarter said...

Hey Jake!

I recently came across some young deer bones that were left by coyotes near where I live. There was a nice full skull that I found interest in, as well as some other parts, and while I was searching for cleaning tips I came across your blog. I just have to say thanks for the great information!

I have a few cool bones that I collected already with a friend a couple years ago, but she did all the cleaning. She's a few years older, and much more experienced in this field, than I.
As an artist, I've been taking an interest in bones as a possible art medium, so I've been collecting small bits here and there for possible use in jewelry and sculptural pieces. I don't have a very large collection yet, as it's hard to find a large variety of species around here, but I'm planning on some very cool stuff with them once I get enough. For now, I mostly have deer bones. That's the most common to find around here.

Awesome blog; keep it up!

-Nik

Jake said...

Hi Nikki,

Glad it helped !

James said...

Hello Jake

What a great blog! I just noticed the comments about reconstructing skeletons. Some years ago a couple of friends gave me a dead fox that they found on the road. It's the first complete skeleton I've got (except for a stoat, but someone accidentally threw the body away). Anyway, I cleaned up the fox and put all the bits in a box, then forgot about it until last week. I'm now having a go at reconstructing it. So far it seems to work by drilling tiny holes in the ends of each bone and threading them together with fishing line. I decided not to use wire because I want to see how all the joints move. I've only done the tail and half a foot but they look amazing!

James

Anonymous said...

hi there! thank you guys for your awesome website. it has been so helpful. i was wondering if i can buy bones off you, as they are hard to find in my area and i like making jewelry for myself out of bones and rocks i find. thank you so much! arielmontage@yahoo.com

Jake said...

Where do you live ? If you live in the UK I could but it would probably be too expensive to post if you live elsewhere.

Dewi (David) Hyde said...

Fantastic work thanks Jake and a very helpful, impressive site.

Keep it up!

Dewi
Esperance, Australia

Jake said...

Thanks

Dewi (David) Hyde said...

Hello again Jake, you may have mentioned what concentration of hydrogen peroxide you use but I haven't seen it. I have a few skulls I want clean up, one especially 'valuable' to me - a juvenile wedgetail eagle - and I don't want to damage it.

Can you let me know how you mix the solution please?

Dewi
Esperance WA

Jake said...

I use 40 strength peroxide which is 12% and that is fine for buzzard skulls.

Anonymous said...

Ultrasonic cleaner did the trick for my company. Give it a try , it really does work !! - We did a test on a bear skull yesterday, the first one we tried, and it remove the oil substance and and left over debris on the skull, cleaned it as well in under 4 minutes. The water in the tank did get a bit smelly but it saved about 6 months in turn around time....- Eastern Ultrasonics

Gillian said...

Hi Jake! I just found an armadillo skeleton, and would like to clean the bones. However, I live in an apartment, and I don't have a lot of room to do it. How badly does it smell when you immerse them in peroxide?

Jake said...

Hi Gillian ! If there is no flesh, the smell is okay. There is a smell but it's not unpleasant. I leave some bones in peroxide in the kitchen and mum never complains about it.

Hi Anonymous ! Thanks for the tip.

Sea Wolf said...

I can't believe that the same scammer and liar (about the ultrasonic cleaner)posted on your site. This *test* never happened and anything they say is an outright lie. Sent you an email Jake and an invite to our USA bone site. Great blog that you have. :)

Anonymous said...

I found a ducK carcass a while back while walking my dog. I came back yesterday and ended up taking the skull and a few of the vertebrae that were still attatched by dry ligaments. This is my first bone that I have found that isnt completely clean.
What would you reccomend?
I was planning on boiling it to clean it off.
I'm glad I found your note about peroxide. Is this hyrdogen peroxide, the same stuff people use to clean out wounds?

Jake said...

Don't boil it ! Use warm water and biological washing powder to start with and leave in a warm place for a few days.

The hydrogen peroxide is the same as you get at chemists but you can get bigger bottles at hairdresser supply shops.

Boscat said...

Thanks for all the information and congratulations on a great blog site. I found a fox skull the other day and although it is almost completely clean the hydrogen peroxide may well do the trick thank you :)

Jake said...

Cool ! Glad it helped !

Anonymous said...

I just dug out some little bird bones and im planning to make some jewelry out of it. But i want some more bones. I live in the netherlands and appearently its very hard to find dead animals here. Do you have some tips for spotting them??.

Jake said...

I'll need to write a post about it, but a good place to start is round the edge of woods, especially if there are foxes living there.

Rhiannon White said...

Hi Jake!
Love this blog, love bones. I also like hides and pelts (but I dont kill creatures for these things). Other people think I have an obsession with death. =P
I need your advice. I have confidence in what you do!
Im doing an art project where I am going to make a puppet from various farm animal bones which I am going to collect tomorrow.
I am a bit confused about cleaning. A lot of these bones, especially the skulls, are going to have meat on them. I can obviously cut a lot of it off but I'm not sure about the rest. Can I just scrub it off in water or do I need to do the soaking/boiling process ? Then the Peroxide, which I am finding tricky to get hold of so is bio washing powder ok? I dont need these bones to be white by the way. I need the quickest possible method that will make them clean and stop any smell. There is so much information about on what to do and what not to do that I am just lost.
Please help me!! x

Jake said...

Hi Rhiannon,

If the bones have flesh it's best to let them rot down naturally, by leaving them where flies can get to them, or by leaving them in water. Don't boil the water otherwise the fat will go into the bone.

Warm water and biological washing powder is good to clean the bones once most or all the flesh is off.

Maddy said...

Hi Jake!
Today I found the skull from a wild boar I saw dead near my friend's house a few weeks ago. It is mostly clean but I think some moisture from the ground got in it and also there is mold in the inside of the skull where the brains were. There doesn't seem to be flesh but there is also some mold in the hollows from the nostrils. Can I go ahead with the peroxide or should I leave it to decompose more?

Jake said...

Hi Maddy,

I would get all the flash off before the peroxide. Try leaving in warm water and biological washing power for a bit.

allison said...

Hi Jake,

My son and I found a small animal jaw (might be a fox). All the flesh is gone, and the teeth have started to fall out. What should I do with it? I have it soaking in a small tub of water outside. I had it in a plastic bag for two days but that seemed icky.

I'd like to keep it, and hopefully put the teeth back in. If you could give me suggestions how to do this, that would be great. And what I should do with the bone if I can't get to treating it right away.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A friend found a moose tooth out in the woods and mailed it to me. There appears to be some residue on it (was still attached to the mandible) that I'd like to remove. For teeth specifically, should I still use the peroxide method, or try efferdent first?

Thanks!

Jake said...

Hi Allison,

Try drying it and see if it still smells. If it does try warm water and biological washing powder. You can put the teeth back in with glue.

Hi Anonymous,

Either should work.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jake,

I have some mouse and small bird bones. I plan to use them in sculptures, any ideas on how to strengthen the bones?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake - loved reading all the comments, and would appreciate your advice on what do do with a dead magpie my daughter found yesterday. We live in Australia, where the magpies are pretty large, but we'd love to keep it's skeleton. I have heard that burying carcasses in a pair of nylon tights is a good way of letting nature take it's course, whilst still retaining the bones, but have no idea how long this takes, or what would happen to skin and feathers.
Any comments would be much appreciated.
Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jake

Im writing from Australia i a have a question which i have been having no luck getting answered by on google and i think your the perfect man for the question.

So my mother is a photographer and has just started taking photos of dead sheep skulls (which i think is well weird) but she does it all over the house putting them in different positions etc she got them from our friends farm. The skull is very clean i think it has been out there for a while so all the bugs have cleaned it. But i want to know does the bones carry any diseases or nasty bacteria that could make our family sick?

Thanx Jake keep up the great work !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh golly just to clear up the last post .. i think its weird she's taking photos of them in my Kitchen not weird she's collecting bones.. Think its very cool Jake and i will be sharing this blog with my mum she might send you some pictures to show you !! Never stop what your doing !! its fab !

Jake said...

Hi anonymous #1: no I have no idea how to strengthen bones.

Hi anonymous #2: nylon tights or muslin would work for tiny bones. I've used wire mesh before for a bigger animal like a fox.

Hi anonymous #3: I don't think so. There are bones all over my house and no-one is sick. Peroxide is good for cleaning bones because it is like an antiseptic, but even if you don't the bones should be fine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake!

I´m about the same age as you and I live in Hungary in a small town.
First I would like to tell you, your website is awesome!
Secondly I would like to tell you my towns name is Nagykovácsi. Its sorrounded by forests and I go out almost weekly. I have found fallow and roe deer sheds but I never find a roe deer skull, no matter how much I look for it, and I have searched almost the whole area. I refuse to accept skulls which have been shot so I was wondering if you had any spare roe (buck) deer skulls, if you do please write to me and Ill pay so you send it to me.
Tnanks!

Written by Diego

Batboy said...

Hey Jake!

I recently found a very old, decomposed raccoon. I took it's skull, and have been keeping the skull in a plastic bag in the freezer for two days. I am searching for the absolute, quickest way to clean a raccoon skull. How do you think I should do it?
Since we don't know how the raccoon died, my parents are a bit skittish about keeping the skull in the house. They believe that we might get a disease from it. Is this possible? I really do want to be able to keep this skull!

Jake said...

@Diego: I don't have any spare at the moment. Sorry !
@Batboy: I think it is unlikely you can get a disease from a skull if there is no soft tissue left. I have hundreds and I have never got ill from them. If you clean it in peroxide that should sterilize it.

Gregory said...

Jake you are one amazing little dude! love the collection, and that your willing to help others enjoy the same activity. Very glad you have your parents support on this. i wish you the best of luck on your future projects and hope to keep checking in to see what new things you have done. out of question have you ever tried to tea stain any of your bones to give them an aged look? just wondering, i was debating using that technique but havn't talked to anyone that has done so yet. Thanks Jake!

Jake said...

Hi Gregory ! I've not done it myself but I know sometimes museums do it to see detail on some bones, like fish bones.

LizClayton said...

hi Jake
this has been really useful
have you ever found bones that you cant identify? I have a couple of skulls and some random mixed bones that i have collected over the past few months from different places but i have no idea what animals they are from. any tips? :)
Thanks
Liz

Jake said...

Email me some pictures or post them on my Facebook page and I'll have a look.

Anonymous said...

This site was great. Thanks for the detailed and to the point information alot of sites are lacking theses days. Good job!
Andrea
Atherton
Australia

Jake said...

Thanks Andrea !

Anonymous said...

hi Jake! i just found what i believe to be a raccoon skull in my driveway a couple days ago. there's very little tissue on it (i haven't had the guts to see if the brain tissue is still there). i just put it on an anthill under a jar (with still enough space underneath for the ants to get in and out) but we are forecast for rain, so i was wondering if the damp ground would have any adverse effect on the bone. i was also wondering if doing the peroxide bath outside would damage the bone (like, magnify the sunlight or something and damage the bone tissue) because my mom is very adamant on not bringing it in the house until its completely clean and disinfected. please respond as soon as you can so that i can finish it up quickly. thanks, bye!

Jake said...

Hi Anon ! The damp ground won't affect the bone and the peroxide and sunlight won't damage the bone (though ti always use a covered container for peroxide).

Anonymous said...

ok, thanks! i just wanted to be sure, as this is the first bone that i've found, and its in really good shape too, so i want to make sure that it stays safe and sound. thanks again. bye.

Anonymous said...

hi jake! its raccoon skull girl again. i soaked the skull in water with a lot of degreasing soap (twice) and then gave it a peroxide bath for about an hour, then scrubbed it with an old toothbrush for about half an hour after that with the same peroxide. i rinsed it and then brought it inside. but i'm not sure if it soaked in peroxide for long enough. it was only 3% peroxide, so i hope that it was long enough. i'm pretty sure that the raccoon died of illness, and even though there wasnt any flesh or brain tissue on the skull, i'm kind of worried about contracting something. this is only amplified by the fact that it still smells. it doesnt stink up the room, but if you get within about 3 - 6 inches then you can smell it pretty strongly. i'm wondering if that's just the way that bones smell before theyve been sealed, or if that means that there's still something on it thats making it stink. either way, is there anything that would just be around the house that could make it not smell before its been sealed? im planning on using a 50/50 mix of elmer's white glue and water to seal it, but i want to get the whole smell thing taken care of first. i dont know where to find biological washing powder, and my parents probably wouldnt let me buy it if i did, so i need something that would just be around the house. do you think i need to bathe it in peroxide again for longer, or is it fine the way it is? this is my very first skull so i'm so confused! sorry about this very long post, but i really need help with this. thanks jake. bye!

Jake said...

If it helps, the most up to date bone cleaning guide is here.

You need to do things for longer. With 12% peroxide I would leave for at least three or four days, maybe a week. But if it smells it sounds like you have some soft tissue still on it and peroxide won't remove that. Biological washing powder is still best for that.

I never seal my bones. If you do, be very careful that the bone is completely, completely dry.

Anonymous said...

okay. thanks jake! i'm probably going to be asking more questions in the future because i'm thinking about starting bone collecting as a hobby. needless to say, my parents arent too thrilled about that, but i found with the raccoon skull that its something that i really enjoy. thanks again for all your advice! bye!

Anonymous said...

and yet another lame question from raccoon skull girl! how can you tell gender just by a skull? i'm hoping you know that for raccoons (obviously), gray squirrels, opossums, and maybe foxes, as those are the animals most common to where i live (georgia, u.s.). oh, and i also figured out what was making the skull stink. there was still some of the tissue that connected the muscle and skin to the top of the snout (would that be called tendons...?) and now thats starting to come off, and i'll get the rest off with the bio powder. thanks again for answering all my stupid questions (I feel like such a noob asking them) and i hope you don't mind too much. thanks again. Bye!

Anonymous said...

there are dark spots on the top of my skull. what are they, and are they bad??? they are not whitening in the peroxide, they are just staying the same. please help! i don't know what to do!

Jake said...

Hi raccoon skull girl !

Unless there are major differences between male and females (like in most deer and the antlers) it is very very difficult just from a skull. Sometimes there are size differences between males and females (usually males are bigger in mammals and females are bigger in raptors) or muscle differences (eg size of saggital crest). The best way to tell the difference between the male and females is the shape of the pelvis (see here)

It is difficult to say what the spots are. Can you email a picture to jakesbones@gmail.com ?

Anonymous said...

Raccoon skull girl again. (btw, both those comments were mine) sorry i havent replied in awhile, its been a busy week. i did check out the saggital crest as that was the only thing that applied to the skull, but i still couldnt tell which gender it was as the saggital crest on raccoons are less prominent than they are in other species. I'll probably send you the pictures of the weird dark spots within a few days. I did take pictures of it but i couldnt find the cord for my camera to upload them. :( also, do you have any tips for removing the teeth? i got all of them out except for one stubborn canine. the other one was stubborn too, and when i did get it out i found that it had burst through the outside of the jaw, which was weak since i was soaking it in water to make the teeth come out more easily. i dont want that to happen with the other canine! help! thanks again for all your advice. bye

Jake said...

I don't have any tips for removing teeth apart from giving a good tug. The canines are usually easy to come out. It might mean there is still some flesh at the base. Remember canines are sometimes curved so you have to pull them in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

hi again jake. raccoon skull girl here again. well, um, i tried to pull out the canine again after it had been sitting for a week in cold water to at least weaken any remaining flesh. it didn't work too well. after pulling for ten minutes, i gave one good last tug, and um, where the skull wasn't fully fused, the skull ripped apart, so the whole left front part of the skull came off. i managed to fit it back together pretty well, but i was pretty shocked. so, yeah............ i don't think the tooth needs any glue. any tips? or should i just leave the tooth in until it needs glue at some point in the future? has that ever happened to you? well, thanks, jake. bye.

Jake said...

Hi raccoon skull girl, that's real shame. Just leave the tooth in and as long as there is no smell it should be fine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake! Great site!

Do you have any advise on finding bones? I'm trying to learn how to put them back together and so far, my biggest hurtle is actually finding them. I've been to wooded parks and streams and I feel like I'm looking for a needle in a hay stack!

Thanks for your help!

Ashley

Jake said...

Hi Ashley,

I've got a post here that might help you.

Anonymous said...

hi again jake. raccoon skull girl here again. thanks for your response, and that's probably what i'm going to do. there's no smell now, and it's been drying for the past week while my family and i took a trip to Canada, so i think today i'll glue the teeth back in and bring it in to it's place of honor. guess what i saw when i was in Canada: a dead fox on the side of a country road. oh my gosh. i wanted to get it so badly, but apparently it's illegal to bring dead animals and/or animal body parts across the U.S/Canada border, so........... yeah. stupid customs law. also my mom said the only reason a fox would get hit by a car is because it had rabies, and was stumbling around, but still! it was so fresh i could've kept the pelt if i wanted to (i probably wouldn't, but my point still stands). it pained me to leave it there, it really did. it was such a gorgeous red fox....... but, anyway, nothing i can do about it now..... well, thanks again jake. once the skull is finished i'll email you a picture or two of it to see how i did. k, bye!

Anonymous said...

raccoon skull girl again. sorry i post so many questions, but i find that this site is the best and most reliable way to get info on this stuff. okay, for future reference, what do you do when you find dead birds or bats? my mom said that if i ever find a dead bird that i should never ever touch it or jostle it because all of the dander on it will kick up and could get me really sick. i was wondering if that's true and if it is how you deal with that danger. thanks jake. bye!

Jake said...

Hi RSG: I might use rubber gloves and wash my hands afterwards, but that's about it if the body is fairly fresh.

Anonymous said...

ok, thank u!

Anonymous said...

hi jake. RSG again. this time its NOT about the raccoon skull! okay, well my family had a yard sale today, so we got a bunch of stuff that we've had forever out of various place in the house. one of those places was the storage room, which is in the older part of the house and isn't all that well sealed. i think you can probably see where this is going. there was a dead mouse in the corner, which we could only see after we moved all the stuff. my mom says that its half rotted, but even though i didnt get a good look at it, i think that its mummified, because there is absolutely no smell. well, there IS a smell, but our storage room has always smelled like that, so im not sure that its from the mouse. anyway, my parents didnt tell me about it, bt when i went in to have a shower (the back bathroom connects to the storage room), i noticed that the light was on. I looked in, hoping to something INTERESTING, and i did. since the corner wasnt all that well lit, i wasnt sure that it even was a mouse at first, and i wasnt even sure that it was dead. i was pretty sure though, so i went to get a flashlight to have a closer look. however, my mom said that there is NO WAY that i am getting to even go near that mouse, and that my dad will go dispose of it in the morning. we argued, and finally she said to go talk to my dad about it. well, i must have debated with my dad for almost an hour, but he finally said that we would talk about it more in te morning, and that we would figure out some way that i could get the mouse bones in a way that my parents were comfortable with. theyre kind of concerned about my safety, but they also think that its gross and disgusting to touch any mouse, dead or alive, fresh or half-rotted. they think that mice are dirty, disgusting creatures. do you have any advice on how to convince them to let me work on the mouse? its a little bit different than with you and your parents, because at least your dad fights for you. ive got both my parents against me. ive already told them that i would be extremely careful, and that the mouse wouldnt come back inside until its completely clean and sanitary. my mom is still adamant on me not keeping the mouse, but i think my dad is weakening - i hope that my saying that doesnt jinx it. but really, any advice at all would be helpful. and to everyone else that might see this comment, FEEL FREE TO GIVE YOUR ADVICE!!!!! i really need all the help i can get. please respond very soon. PLEASE. anyway, thanks in advance. sorry for this very long comment/question. BYE!!!

Anonymous said...

MOUSE UPDATE: pretty sure that its partly mummified, but it decomposed first because you can see the skull and spine. (my dad put it in a bag to put it outside, so i got to see it in the bag) thats all the extra information that i have at the moment. BYE!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,
I'm living in Africa for a year to see my dad who works here. Today on safari we found a perfect African buffalo skull, its huge... I think it's been lying outside for quite a while because there is no meat on the skull (there is only some dry skin stuck on the nose) and there are almost no bugs. Do you think soaking the skull in some peroxide for a week is enough to clean this beast of a skull? There is also horns on the skull but I don't know if they need cleaning. Thanks!

Jake said...

Hi RSG: You could ask them to leave it on a small plate or tray under an unturned flower pot, with only a tiny, tiny gap at the bottom so flies can get in. That way you don't need to touch it and it can rot down by itself. You'll need to leave it for a few months but it means it won't be in the house and you won't need to touch it.

Hi Anon: peroxide for a week should do it, but try and work the horns off first, or keep them away from the peroxide.

Anonymous said...

RSG again. hey jake! i am thinking about doing that, but i'm just worried about how to clean bones that small. first of all i'm worried that when theyre soaking in water to macerate or in hydrogen peroxide that some of the bones will turn to mush and disintegrate. and even if they don't, how am i going to put the skeleton back together. since its a small skeleton and wouldnt take up that much space, i want to re-articulate it. but i'm especially worried about the skull. if it wasnt a very old mouse, then during the cleaning i can expect to skull to fall apart. but since it's so small, i'm afraid that i won't be able to put it back together. have you ever put a small skull back together before (like, a really small skull, like a mouse or a rat)? If you have, then do you think that you could do a guide post on how to do that? i've looked all over for something like that, but most thigs just seem to be redirect virus sites. please help me; i really want to keep this mouse, but i need to figure out how. thanks jake. bye.

Jake said...

Hi RSG, like I said above, leaving on a dry plate under a flowerpot where water can't get in but flies can will be the best way to rot down the mouse.

Keithkralik said...

for the peroxide, is it hydrogen peroxide or just regular peroxide? where would i buy this at? super market. i have some bones to clean. thanks so much.

Jake said...

Hydrogen peroxide. I buy it from a hairdressers supply shop called Sally's Salon Supplies - http://www.salon-services.com/ They won't sell the 12% (40 strength) but will the 9%.

Rooniehopperbob said...

hi all
i have just found a 4ft rib off a whale that is free of flesh but stinking. how can i get it clean and are there any risks of cashing a illnesss from it.
many thanks paulie

Jake said...

I would use a 2ft deep container and use hot (not boiling) water with biological washing powder, then turn it round to do the other end. I would leave for a few days then rinse, then try again until the smell went. A whale rib is cool but sometimes you need a licence for it (I think you do in the UK). I don't think you will have much of a risk of getting a disease if there is no soft tissue.

Badger said...

Hey kid.

Cheers for this. My mate found a ram skull an he gave it to me a couple days ago. It aint been lyin too long as it stinks an still has a bit of sinew on it. Ive been lookin at how to bleach it white an now I know.

This is a pic of it. Its 18" across.

Jake said...

Great skull ! Take off the horns (carefully) and clean underneath them as well if you can. Simmering in biological washing powder will help too: http://www.jakes-bones.com/p/how-to-clean-animal-bones.html#biological

Peter said...

Hi, can you tell me how can i glue a broken tooth?

Jake said...

Never done it myself, but if it is broken from top to bottom I would put the two halves together with glue inbetween, wipe off any extra then hold the two halves together with a cable tie until they dried.

Fran said...

Do you do anything additional besides the scrubbing and peroxide to clean the bones? My son found some deer bones this weekend and we brought them home. I've never done this before but someone suggested baking them to kill bacteria. Someone else suggested boiling, that baking them might make them brittle. Have you ever tried either? Help/tips are greatly appreciated - I'm a mom of a boy with a huge interest here, this is totally NOT my area but I want to support his curiosity. The ones we have are filthy and since he will be playing with them in the house I would like them to be clean. Help! lol :)

Jake said...

Does this page help ? http://www.jakes-bones.com/p/how-to-clean-animal-bones.html But DO NOT bake or boil !

Danelle Jacoby said...

I am currently studying veterinary technology and found a groundhog skeleton in a friends back yard. I thought it might help me in anatomy and physiology. I am amazed at the site of this skeleton and am probably now going to start a new hobby - bone collecting. Thanks for this informative site.

Jake said...

Cool ! Thanks !

Katie & Nellie said...

Hi Jake. Thanks for the info on your site. My daughter, 7, just found some bones on our property. We are pretty sure the larger one is a deer. Not sure yet about the smaller one...as all we have found so far is part of the skull. But it could be a baby deer. We also picked up some snake skin! We live in Texas.

Luna said...

Hey Jake, my name is Luna! Is it okay to do the peroxide/water step in a bucket indoors in a room no one uses? I live in an apartment, so I'm not sure if I should leave it outside since I have so many neighbors that might be creeped out!

Jake said...

Good find ! If you'd like help identifying them, you can email pics to jakesbones@gmail.com and I'll have a look.

Jake said...

As long as you don't knock it over, 'cos peroxide can stain carpets and fabrics. But at lower dilutions it's just a disinfectatnt cleaner.

Skunk love said...

My friend and I skinned a skunk recently . I've had the feet soaking in rubbing alchol for 4 weeks. Are they still safe to make keychains out of ? Wasn't sure if they've been festering too long? Any info and guidance is appreciated.

Jake said...

Sorry, haven't a clue I'm afraid !

Mark said...

I found a mummified mouse once, poured hydrogen peroxide on it and the little thing sizzled till the flesh and meat had disintegrated

Vina Rua said...

Hi Jake,
First off, your blog is amazingly well-written! I'll be following it from now on! :D

Secondly, I have some deer bones that still have some soft tissue attached and antlers that were lying on the ground in an old shed for ages. I also have a very curious cat so don't want to leave them outside unprotected. Would 40 volume hairdresser's peroxide or biological washing powder work better And/or quicker? I have both in the cupboard...

Happy hunting!
Vina Rua

Jake said...

Peroxide is good for whitening, but not brilliant for removing flesh. Warm water and biological washing powder is better for removing or softening tissue. My best guide is here: http://www.jakes-bones.com/p/how-to-clean-animal-bones.html

nakiesha said...

Hi Jake , I have a horse skull that I would like to use in an outdoor display . Is there anything I can use to make it waterproof , as you know ,bones don't like rain,rain,rain and then hot sun . Hope you can help. I absolutely adore your site. Nakiesha I'm 14 and live in Australia .x

Jake said...

You can get clear varnish which sprays on, or I've heard of people making a thin glue and dipping the skull in and leaving to dry. never done it myself, so don't know how well it works !

RobRoy said...

Hi
Great site with lots of good information
I would like to polish the fore leg, shoulder bone, of a red deer that I have cleaned up to use as part of a serving platter. Could you recommed the best way to polish the bone for this purpose?
I'd be grateful for any advice.
Thanks in advance

Ashley from Canada said...

Hi Jake!
I've had the same interest in bones as you only I haven't done much collecting. I find your site to be fascinating and plan to buy your book :). I have a few bones but one in particular has lead me to your site. I have a Coyote skull sitting in A bucket of bleach as I type this but wanted to make sure what I'm doing is correct. it had bits of flesh and bugs on it still but once I take it out I'm not sure what to do with the bleach. how have you been disposing the leftover bleach and animal flesh? Not sure if the answer is noted on your site somewhere but if not I could really use the help. I was really excited to see someone else as interested as I am in bones! Right now my friends on Facebook are probably not feeling the same way lol. Keep up the great work!

Jake said...

Bleach isn't great. Have a look here: http://www.jakes-bones.com/p/how-to-clean-animal-bones.html

Ilesha Cherry said...

Hi Jake! A couple of weeks ago I dug up a cat in my garden. The bones had dirt on them but that is all. Initially I thought it was our cat that we buried two years ago but then realized that she was buried in a different place. Also the skull on this cat was severely damaged. Is there any way to tell how old the bones are?

Nellynoorules said...

Just found wallaby skeleton and I want to put it together. Should I glue as well, or just use wire? I found it next door and it looked like it had been there for a couple of years and I already cleaned them.

Jake said...

You'll probably need to use wire as well for strength. See http://www.jakes-bones.com/2014/02/how-i-rearticulated-my-badger-skeleton.html

Jake said...

If you mean how long the bones have been in the ground, that's difficult to know. Bones do change a lot but it depends a lot on the type of soil. If you mean how old the cat was at death, look for wear on the teeth, fusion at top and bottom of bones (juveniles have loose ends when bones are growing), and whether the pelvis is fully fused. Yours looks like an older adult.

makaleha said...

Jake You are absolutely amazing. I bet your teachers, and parents are very proud of you. Glad you use peroxide. Many people use chlorox, but that turns the bones yellow and crumbly and smelly.
If the carcass is fresh and you want to get most of the skin and muscle off quickly, just boil it in a large pot. Preferably outdoors rather than in the family kitchen.
Again, you are a marvelous young man. Have you noticed how much you can learn about what an animal eats just by looking at the teeth? Compare a deer's teeth for grazing grass with a dog's teeth designed to tear meat apart. [From a science teacher]

ed said...

Hi, I am slicing bone very thin for a craft project. Is there something I can do to it ti strengthen it as its so thin?

Finn said...

You go Jake! It's super rad that you find this as a fun hobby!

Jake said...

Thanks !

Jake said...

Haven't a clue, sorry.

Jake said...

Thanks !

rose said...

hi I just recently found sheep bones I found several small bones I thought were possibly human teeth in the last picture above on the left you have these same bones displayed Can you tell me what they are ? Thank you

Jake said...

I think you mean sheep molars and premolars, which are similar to deer molars and premolars.

Daisy said...

Hi Jake! I would like to clean up some chicken bones (that I got from a roast chicken) to make a part of my halloween costume. Can you tell me what would be the best way to make sure they don't go smelly or mouldy before I can use them for my costume? I have already cleaned all the meat off of them, but the ends of the bones still have soft stuff on them and I don't want to scrape it off in case I damage them.

Jake said...

Cooked bones are difficult to clean because the cooking melts fat into them. They will be fine for a while, possibly fine until Halloween, but after that, they may start to smell or get greasy. Baking them again to get the fat out might help, or might make the bones more brittle. Soaking in a bucket of soapy water might help a bit as well, or simmering in biological washing powder. But when fat is in the bone it is difficult to get out.

Rita Vaz said...

Hi There! I would like to know what percentage of hydrogen peroxid do you usually use?

Jake said...

Somewhere around 12% (40 strength), but usually less (eg 3% or 6%)

Rita Vaz said...

Thankyou for your time. Two more questions: How many liters do you use and how long?

Luxury Apartments Lady said...

Interesting, and then what do you use those for?

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