Anonymous asked: Hi! I remember you saying before that you find some of your bones in creeks and rivers. Some of the locals here have had luck finding fossil bones in the river near me, so I'm going to give bone/fossil hunting a shot. Do you have any advice for bone collecting by a river? Are there certain times of day that are best to look, or anything in particular to look for? Do you look in the water/by the water's edge, or higher along the bank? Thanks!
Banks along running water are great places to hunt for bones! Stuff will wash in from miles around and new things come each time a heavy rainfall makes the water levels rise so you never know what you’ll find!
You can find bones anywhere around the water and even in it too. The edge, farther up the bank, even in the woods and fields around the water as well. Predators will catch fish and other small prey in the water and drag them to a quiet place to chow down and sometimes you’ll get lucky and find their leftovers. Bones really just turn up anywhere and everywhere!
Inspect everything closely. See a tiny piece of ivory white peaking out of the gravel or mud? Pick it up! It might just be a pebble or it might be an entire vertebrae or leg bone buried in the silt.
I’ve found that cloudy days a few days after a big rain are usually the best times to look. It’s easier to look for stuff when the sun isn’t glaring down on the ground or reflecting back at you from the rippling water (sun glares give me migraines so that’s something I try to avoid, haha) and new stuff is likely to wash in or be uncovered after a big rainstorm.
Hope that helps, Anon! Good luck and happy hunting!
Anonymous asked: Hello! I'm relatively new to vulture culture, so I don't have a large collection. I'm keen to keep collecting, but I just moved into a 2nd story apartment. I used to live in a house where maceration buckets and degreasing buckets weren't a problem, but I don't think my neighbors will appreciate them now. Do you have any tips for a vulture in an apartment?
Hi there, Anon! Welcome to the wonderful world of bone collecting!
Your best bet might be a small colony of dermestid beetles. You can keep them in an aquarium and so long as it is secured to keep any of them from climbing or flying out (they don’t start flying unless it’s around 80+ degrees) then you should be good to go. They do have a bit of an odor to them, especially if there is a fresh carcass in with them so that might be something to be aware of if you go that route. Changing out some of their substrate every few weeks will help with the smell though.
Do you have any outdoor space where you could keep some flower pots or anything? You could do some nature cleaning that way, burying small carcasses in dirt in the pots and letting them rot that way. Might have a little odor but it shouldn’t be too bad especially with smaller stuff.
If you go the maceration route frequent water changes will definitely be your friend (same goes for degreasing; frequent water changes cut down on the smell) but maceration soup is always going to have some odor to it. Simmering is a faster alternative to maceration but you have to be careful to not get the water too hot because boiling bones will set grease into them and can cause serious damage.
If I were you I’d just experiment, start will small stuff first, and see what works best for you. Best of luck at the new place and happy cleaning! :)
Anonymous asked: Last night, a scavenger stole my rabbit carcass out from under a flowerpot. Do you know of any way to keep the pots down besides putting something heavy on top? The pots are on a slope, too. Thanks in advance :)
Aw sorry to hear about that, Anon! Wild scavengers can be very clever about nabbing dead things. I had something steal a rabbit carcass out of a closed wire animal cage one time. I figure it must have just grabbed a part of the carcass through the wire and then reenacted that scene from Alien Resurrection where the baby alien was sucked out of that tiny hole and in to space. ;)
Since it’s on a slope you might want to build up the ground or dig down to level it off a bit. Then you can build a little wall around the pot with some bricks or cinder blocks. That’ll keep anything from getting to the rim of the pot to dig under it or tip it over and then just lay some more on top of the pot too. The wall of blocks is what I usually do for nature cleaning small/medium sized carcasses. I’ll lay some plastic on the ground, make the wall of blocks, put the bagged up carcass inside, and then cover with more blocks or some weighed down wire.
Good luck and happy cleaning!
oosik said: Seems like a concentration of the bacteria might be better. Couldn’t a bucket with pond water be used? Then there’s a less likely hood of anything running away with it.
Great point! I’m gonna have to give that a try some time and see how it works. I bet it would do a really good job though! I’ve got a couple little ponds on my property so I have a steady supply of smelly pond water, haha.
Anonymous asked: Do you know of a way to utilize a pond for maceration? Not sure if having a rotting carcass in it would be bad for the other beasties living in/drinking the water.
I’ve seen stuff rot pretty darn fast in ponds/other bodies of water before! It’s a great environment for decay with all the bacteria and microorganisms that naturally reside in pond water and any crustaceans or fish (especially scavengers like catfish) would go nuts for the rotting meat.
You’d have to be sure to secure it well. Put the carcass in a heavy burlap sack (and don’t leave it for too long because burlap might come apart given enough time in water) or a very fine mesh wire cage. And then secure that to the bank with a rope and stake driven in the ground or tied to a sturdy tree branch to keep any scavengers from dragging it off.
But personally I wouldn’t want to do it in a pond that any livestock drink from or one that has any prize fish in it. It probably wouldn’t hurt anything, especially in a large enough body of water but I just wouldn’t want to take the risk.
Anonymous asked: Hi, I have a 4 point deer antler, that has been naturally shed. It has been painted with water based paint. I wanted to clean it and i'm not sure the best way to go about it. Any suggestions?
Hey there! There are a lot of different ways to go about removing paint from bones and such. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and a soak in hot, soapy water will loosen the paint enough to scrub it off (especially with water-based paint) but I usually end up using acetone and a brush to scrub it off. I’ve heard you can use rubbing alcohol too but I’ve never tried that myself.
If you do use acetone just remember that it is a very powerful chemical and you should only use it outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, keep it off your skin as much as possible and definitely out of your eyes, and wash your hands when you are done.
Good luck and happy scrubbing!
Anonymous asked: I don't have an incubator or an aquarium thermostat for maceration. Is there anything else that I can use? Does the water HAVE to stay hot? Thanks in advance! :)
Keeping the water warm/hot is really the best way to clean meat off of carcasses. It works a lot faster and more efficiently than cold water maceration. Temps between 85-105 degrees Fahrenheit or so are ideal.
You can get fish tank heaters for like $20 or less at pet stores, bucket heaters at co-ops that work well, you can even make your own (this post on the taxi.net forums has a good tutorial for one that’s ‘so easy a caveman can do it’), OR what I just do for the most part is just use the hot summer weather to keep the water warm.
Good luck and happy cleaning! :)