Maceration Step by Step ... Revisited
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Wolfwoman
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« on: September 29, 2007, 09:15:07 PM »

Ok, now that I'm really done, let's see if I can simplify this a bit. The other post got quite large and people were having a hard time following it!

Fresh skulls outta the freezer... Black bear, Grizzly Bear and Wolverine...


I cut off as much meat as my patience and time allows, the more you cut off the faster the maceration process is. It works either way tho. I have three lynx that I threw in the bucket whole.


And the bins that I clean in. Lynx are in the white bucket and bears in the blue bin. Both have heaters set about 82 degrees, higher temps (I've heard) can damage skulls. Don't want that!


Someone had asked about previously rotten skulls. They can be done the same way, here's a pic of some really nice and ripe ones that I did with this same method.


10 days into the process... I'll be adding more water to both buckets tomorrow. (30May07) Might even take some of em out and see how they're really doing. If I do I'll post more pics.



A top on the bucket prevents evaporation, not to mention keeps the smell down! lol

Here's a few more steps today. I pulled the lynx out and rinsed them off, two of them are ready for degreasing and one needs more maceration. I pull all the teeth that haven't fallen out at this stage (if I can without harming skull or teeth) and place them on a meat tray for later. I put a colored zip tie on the skulls and lower jaws and one in the tray so I don't have to wonder what teeth go with what skull later on!

Ok here's taking them outta the bucket of water still in their ziplocks. You can pour (SLOWLY) a good amount of the water out of the bag without losing teeny tiny teeth as they pretty much stay in the bottom corners. You have to fetch em out.





The lower jaw has tissue in between that needs to be cleaned off also. The more tissue you can get off your skull, the better (actually, it ALL needs to come off). That's the other reason I pull as many teeth as I can (if they don't fall out). Once you're done you glue it back together, most jawbones interlock quite nicely and it's not hard to get them back together. I glue and rubberband til it's dry.

Here we go, one wolf and 2 lynx skulls degreased and ready to go into 3% WalMart brown bottle peroxide. Straight, no dilution needed. See the difference in the color of the skulls? The wolf sat for 3 years outside in a bucket (no water) and the lynx were macerated. One of the lynx almost doesn't need whitening.



This is what you get when you don't degrease enough. These have already been whitened, but I'm going to put them back in degreaser for a couple weeks to get the last few spots out that I didn't see when they were still wet.


I've only used ammonia once and I don't care for it, maybe someone else can help with that. Soak in peroxide about 48 hours, after that it won't get any whiter. You can use the peroxide more than once, but it does lose it's strength after awhile. I've used a long narrow shallow container for deer, propped them up and used a paper towel wrapped around the antlers to wick up the peroxide.

Here's almost done skulls that started this post:

The large griz and the black bear that will go in peroxide tomorrow when I get more  :P



Two wolverine that will also go in peroxide.... and the griz teeth on a tray



And a badger that was BLACK when I took it out of the plastic bag.... it's been rotting thru two winters! LOL It lightened up as it dried.


And so we come to the original skulls once again, finished! Teeth glued back in with Elmer's. Yukon still thinks they would be fun to play with. There is no smell left in any of the skulls (at least to me!) and they have all their nasal bones left too.






Any additional comments and questions are welcome!

Wolfwoman
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2007, 11:29:40 PM »

A great tutorial, way to go and I will be following the steps in about a week.

Thanks Greg
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killzone
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2007, 11:31:35 PM »

Very nice work Wolfwoman! Excellent pictures, and love the ones with your dog. LOL  There is one thing I have learned worth mentioning is to never macerate anything smaller then a skunk unless you enjoy working with tweezers and a magnifying glass to reinstall teeth, and other loose bones.
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2007, 11:48:12 PM »

Greg, have fun :)

killzone, I AGREE! I've done mink and marten, LOTS of em... but possum are the worst!
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2007, 08:38:07 AM »

Wolfwoman   Very nice job on the whole presentation I'm sure it will help a lot of people with there projects.
 Regards
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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2007, 04:10:09 AM »

Thanks alot for posting a new version of this, Wolfie! You (amongst others) helped me alot when I was really getting into learning this process. Maceration is my favorite. I have learned other degreasing methods and whitening methods, but I'll never stray from the maceration process. I've stated I'd like to use beetles, but no way do I need more living animals or insects, so for now, I'm loyal to the stink. ;D I know this post will come in handy for many, many newcomers, too.
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2007, 11:47:22 AM »

Thanks to both. Who knows, maybe someday I can put it on a video....lol
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2007, 10:50:42 AM »

very informative,  thanks for all the explanation of the steps. i am new to the forum. the skulls just go into straight water to start the maceration process? also would this work the same for an alligator skull?
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TrekJeff
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2007, 11:23:27 AM »

Too cool, makes me want to make some stew. 

A question about the fish tank heaters.  Do they get hot enough to cause problems if they touch the side of a plastic bucket?
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2007, 12:04:31 PM »

I have never done a gator skull, so I'm not sure about those. But yes, straight into water to start.

The heaters I buy have suction cups attached and I can place them on the side of the bin where there's no troubles. HOWEVER I wouuldn't think if you kept it around 80-85 it would be a problem, but I don't know. I would just make sure it's away from everything.
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2008, 10:30:58 PM »

There have been more questions on maceration, so I'm bumping this to the top.
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Michelle Nelson's Taxidermy
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2008, 11:36:17 PM »

I think I might like to try this method on the deer skull that I have left.  It will give me more time to think about beetles.

How long does it take to do a deer skull?

 Will the fish tank heaters keep the water in a 5 gallon bucket up to the proper temperature if it is 35 - 40 degrees outside?

What temp do you keep your water at?
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Bone Painter
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2008, 11:53:01 PM »

Awesome Wolfie!
I like the condensed version, it makes it easier to follow. I was just working on some stew skulls today, I have two bobcat, a grey fox, 3 pine martin & two bears going. I had one skull that I pulled out & the bone had become very porous all over, could that be due to the temp being too high? I keep my heater at 89. It's funny though, the skull that came out damaged was only in for a week where my other skulls were in for 3 weeks and came out fine. Any thoughts?

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Megan Carfino
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Michelle Nelson's Taxidermy
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2008, 11:55:05 PM »

How do you get all the meat and all that wonderful stuff out of the tiny nasal bones with out destroying them?
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Bone Painter
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2008, 12:49:40 AM »

MNT-
The flesh melts away with maceration. I just rinse under running water & it's perfect. That's why I like maceration better than beetles- the beetles sometimes leave flesh in there or they die or shed their shells in there & you can't get them out.
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Megan Carfino
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