This week I got a great surprise present. My friend who is the gamekeeper in the Pheasant Woods came round on Monday to tell me that he had caught a fox and a grey squirrel for me to rot down for their bones. This was brilliant because all my fox skulls don't have the lower jaws, and none of them have all the teeth.
The problem with rotting animals down is the smell, and it takes about two or three months, and other animals can dig them up and spread the bones about. So we used the same plan that we used to rot down the hedgehog. Here is what we used:
- A big wood where no-one would mind the smell
- A spade to dig a hole
- Rubber gloves to handle the fox and the squirrel
- The dead animals (they are in the bag)
- Wire mesh to wrap round the fox so other animals couldn't eat it or dig it up and to keep the bones together
- The wire cage we used for the hedgehog
First of all after school on Thursday we found a quiet spot in a wood that no-one goes to, and Dad dug a hole.
Then he used the wire mesh to line the hole with.
Then I wore the gloves and took the dead animals out of the bag. The animals were smelly because they were killed about a week ago. The fox was shot in the chest, and you could see a broken rib on the left hand side where the bullet came out. The squirrel had been caught in a trap and had it's neck broken.
The reason the gamekeeper is catching and killing grey squirrels is because the grey squirrels are forcing out the rare red squirrels that live in the woods. If he didn't kill the grey squirrels then soon there would no red squirrels left. There about 2,500,000 grey squirrels in the UK, but only about 120,000 red squirrels. Here is one of the traps he uses with a different squirrel in it.
The dead squirrel was small enough for me to put it in the same cage we used to rot down the hedgehog. That way the bones wouldn't get mixed up with the foxes.
I put the fox in the big hole lined with the mesh. The fox looks like it has no tail but the tail is just underneath it.
Then I wrapped over the wire mesh around the fox, and put the squirrel in the hole as well.
The dad put all the soil back in, and you would never know anything was buried there.
Now I have to wait a couple of months for it to rot down. It will probably take about three months, maybe longer. We'll have to keep checking the hole to make sure other foxes don't dig it up.
UPDATE: I dug up the fox and the squirrel in April 2011 and I have written about that here.
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