At the end of last September, I buried a fox and a squirrel that I had been given by a gamekeeper. (I buried because I wanted to get them rotted down but I now know the best way is to leave them above ground.) Yesterday morning, I went back to dig them up.
I had been back to dig them up before. I went back in January with dad after we had about six weeks of snow. We could hardly find the spot where were we buried them ! We had almost given up then we got lucky and found the spot. The snow on top of the spot had turned into an enormous slab of ice that the spade wouldn't go through. Eventually we put a rope round it and pulled it up.
We had a quick look but there seemed to be some soft tissue left. The maggots had died because of the cold.
When we went back yesterday we didn't know whether it was going to be rotted down enough. This time is was easy to find the spot.
After I dug down a bit I found the mesh I had wrapped the fox in.
Even after I dug it out, it was hard to see what was inside. Then I saw the skull !
The first thing I did was to put rubber gloves on that I carry in my rucksack.
Then we unwrapped the mesh and I started to take the bones out. I used the yellow box for the skull and jaw, the orange bag for the big bones, and another rubber glove for the tiny bones.
When we buried the fox in September this is what it looked like:
When we dug it up, this is how it looked:
The fur and skin at the bottom of the mesh had formed a layer that the bones sat on. Some of the bones were difficult to find and I had to pick through the fur to find them,
When I put the jaws away I noticed a bottom canine was missing. We looked all the way through the fur but couldn't find it. Then at the last minute I found it ! It had fallen out when I first moved the mesh.
After we got all the fox bones out, we went back for the squirrel:
When I buried the squirrel in September it looked like this:
And when I dug it up it looked like this:
I didn't take all the bones of the squirrel, only the big ones. The strange thing was, the chest cavity didn't seem to have rotted own. This is the squirrel skull which we put away in its own box:
The next stage is to clean the bones. I have already started with the fox skeleton by soaking it in hot water and biological washing powder.
UPDATE: Here's what I wrote about the squirrel, and here's what I wrote about the fox !
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