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turtle skeleton

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by T_18, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. T_18

    T_18 New Member

    Hi all,

    I have a question about a turtle I want to built.

    I do I have to get the skeleton and offcourse all the meat out of the shell? I want to keep the original color of the shell so maceration is not an option. I can and want to clean the other bones with the maceration technique.

    I have added a picture of the point where the upper and lower shell meets, I don't know if this is of any help?

    Thanks in advance.

    Attached Files:

  2. Use bugs to clean it, or scrape it clean then use borax to dry it out. Using bugs will allow you to keep the other bones.
    Shell will falll apart if you macerate.

  3. Jeff.

    Jeff. New Member

    The beetles will eat the scutes. You need to protect them first. Coating it paraloid will be a great help.
  4. never had the scutes eaten by my bugs, I guess if it was in there to long they would start to eat them.
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    You have a nice tortoise. Remove what bones you can by hand and then allow bugs to clean the inside of the shell. For a shell like that, I would not cut the bottom free. Try to work with it intact.
  6. T_18

    T_18 New Member


    Thanks all for your quick reply's So if I understand it correctly I just have to remove as much meat and bones if I can without damaging the shell. After this I can clean the shell by beetles and the bones by maceration. But how do I remove the meat withhout damaging the bones inside? And do I need to use special liqued to prevent the scutes from eating?
  7. wbd

    wbd Member

    I've cleaned one with maceration... I just had it in a tank of water in the sun for a couple of months... then take it out, get the loose bones out if you can, remove as much soft tissue as you can, and put it back in (with some fresh water)... Wait some more, etc. At some point in time you will have a clean skeleton and all the bones. It took quite a while, but I got it clean eventually....... ;D
  8. I highly advise to not macerate the shell, it will fall apart. you can try and get the bones out, but its best to have it beetle cleaned. I have removed the body from the shell and packed with borax for a week or 2 and let it dry that way. send it to me. I will clean it for you (beetles)
  9. Jeff.

    Jeff. New Member

    Toxic, can you describe your full process on cleaning a tortoise shell? The info that I passed along about putting paraloid on the shell was from the information I had collected from the archives here. I have not done a tortoise, but have one of my own sulcatas in my freezer waiting for customers' skulls to be done.

    I've never read that it was as easy as cutting the meat out, and boraxing - unless everything else I read was overcomplicating a simple thing.

    Anyway, thanks.
  10. sure, I have done quite a few, take a knife and cut away the legs and neck, the back bone does not come out due to the fact it is attached to the shell. remove the entrails. the skin that stays attached to the shell will be easier to clean once it is dried. put the shell into a container that will allow it to stand up. put some borax in the bottom of the container, then sit the shell into it. fill the shell cavity with borax (20 mule team is what i use) let it sit for about 2 to 3 days. pull the shell out and remove the borax in the cavity. refill with borax again. let sit for about 10 to 14 days.longer would be even better. At this point the skin is dried and mostly odor free , what is remaining can be pulled off the shell with needle nose pliers. A good coat inside and out of polyurathane would make it shine nicely and prevent future problems with loose scutes. The other way which I would prefer, remove legs and neck with a sharp knife. beetle clean it. a good srubbing with dawn and water then let air dry for about a week. Then coat with polyurathane.
  11. Jeff.

    Jeff. New Member

    Will the beetles eat through the connective tissue that separate the plastron from the carapace?

    Thanks for the info, if I had known it was this easy, I would have thrown it in there a long time ago.
  12. Keep an eye on it, take it out as soon as the cavity is clean.
  13. T_18

    T_18 New Member

    Is it easy to remove the legs and neck without "opening" the shell? Do I have to clean the legs with beetles?

    And another question how do you remove with a sharp knife bones like the pelvic gurdle, coracoid, scapula and the femur (http://www.infovisual.info/02/021_en.html) since I guess they stick really tight to the back bone which is attached to the shell. how do I remove this since I have so little space.

    Thanks in advance!
  14. It will be hard to get the pelvic bones out, you will end up breaking the back bone at the pelvis to get them out. you need a long slender knife like a filet knife. I never tried to keep these bones intact. You will have to play it by ear on that one.
  15. T_18

    T_18 New Member

    Thanks for your quick reply. I want to make a skeleton, it is not my intention only to keep the shell. I don't know if it is good to go breaking bones. :)
  16. T_18

    T_18 New Member

    Do you also break the pelvis bone if it is your intention to get the hole skeleton?
  17. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    T use bugs. They will eat the flesh off from around the bones inside. You won't have to break them.

  18. I only kept the shell on the ones I did, but SeaWolf is correct, Beetles will clean it out for you with out damage to the bone.
  19. Jeff.

    Jeff. New Member

    Update on this one.
    I threw my sulcata in the beetles a few days ago. Whole. Within one day, the beetles had eaten 70% of the scutes off. When I say off, I mean they have separated the scute from the carapace, not devoured the scute itself.

    Unless you want to glue it all back together, I'd venture to say that coating it prior to going into the beetles would have been a better route, as is indicated here in the archives. I can add pics at a later date.