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Maceration hack needed...

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by SouthrnChrmer450, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. I've done two fox skulls with warm water maceration and both times I've lost teeth. I count the sockets, count the teeth when pulling them out (before dumping the water), and I always seem to come up short a tooth or two one way or another. Any of you pros have any clever hacks up your sleeves to keep up with these smaller teeth during maceration?
  2. akvz

    akvz New Member

    Pantyhose, you get a lot of goopy meat in them but you can squeeze it out and pick through it for teeth. Keep count of how many you need to take out-- 12 incisors, for example-- and set them aside, double check, make sure you count really well... They shouldn't ever fall out of pantyhose unless there's a hole in them or you have some seriously tiny teeth... where it would be kind of stupid to be using maceration in the first place.

    I use knee-highs and it works for almost every animal, except for large hogs, antlered deer, etc.... but that's why they make thigh highs. :) I also have a zip tie with a waterproof tag with the tooth count on specimens where teeth are missing, since I have 6-7 foxes right now with naturally missing teeth and I don't want to be poking around for an hour looking for teeth that don't exist.

  3. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I don't ever lose teeth so something is wrong. Use a 5 gallon bucket and let them rot for two weeks. By then, all the meat should be destroyed. Stir up the bucket and let it settle for a min. Even the smallest teeth sink to the bottom. CAREFULLY pour off at least half of the water and refill. Let it sit for another min and slowly pour off almost all the water. Fill again, wait and slowly pour off again. Doing this should give you clear water to see through to the bottom. You should easily be able to see the teeth on the bottom at this point. Rinse in the bucket and pour off gently each time. I eventually dump the contents out into a clean dark grey tray so I can see every little bit. Make positively sure that no teeth or small bone bits remain stuck to the bottom or sides of the bucket as this will happen. Also make sure that your missing tooth is not stuck up in the nasals or inside the skull somewhere. I have had this happen before.

    I don't use panyhose due to the *goop* factor mentioned above. I just rinse things very gently and carefully. I even recover inner ear bones, so small teeth shouldn't be an issue if you are careful. If you are pulling the teeth out before the skull is done, consider that those missing teeth might have been in the bottom of the bucket already. To be honest, once a skull has hit the bucket, I don't touch it until it is clean.
  4. carlabrauer

    carlabrauer Quality bone cleaning with dermestid beetles

    I do pretty much the same thing Sea Wolf said. Let the teeth sink to the bottom and pour slowly and carefully. I fish out the teeth when the water is shallow enough to see them, and even then I still pour what's left onto a fine mesh screen just in case. By this point the worst of the goupy stuff is gone. For smaller skulls, I macerate them in ziplock bags (NOT sealed completely so they don't explode) so I can do multiple heads in one container, and they're even easier. You can clearly see and feel the teeth in a bottom corner of the bag and kind of hold that corner in place while you pour the water out. With maceration, no need to pull the teeth yourself - they'll see themselves out.
  5. tem

    tem Well-Known Member

    I use a big fine strainer. pore slowly. after I do what sea wolf does with the 5 gallon bucket.
  6. Muncher

    Muncher Member

    I made myself up some bags of varying sizes from some mesh fabric that is used by insect keepers for making nets to keep their insects in. it has a mesh size of around 1/16 of an inch, which is large enough for most of the gunge to come out of, and small enough not to let any bones or bits out. Each bag has a draw string to close it up, and the string is about 18 inches long. When I put the bags in the maceration bucket, I hang the strings over the rim, so if I want to check what's going on, I just pick up the string and pull the bag out. When I'm doing a whole skeleton, I put the different parts into different bags, so it keeps it all separate.
    When I'm rinsing stuff off, I always use a fine kitchen sieve as well, just to be on the safe side.
  7. Go to Home Depot and buy the 5-gallon paint strainers. These are a fine mesh and very durable. Clean as much meat as you can before putting in as the strainer will hold it all and you will be left sifting through the meat looking for teeth. I also use the strainer while degreasing..
  8. Good idea with the filling-and-pouring until the water is clear. I've macerated both in the same bucket with deer skulls so there was quite a bit of goop...I wonder if the smaller teeth got caught up with a big piece of good and slid out of the bucket while I was pouring. I'll try the fill-and-pour method next time. As always, thanks gang!
  9. MadeInUSA

    MadeInUSA New Member

    Teeth stealing faeries.
  10. I'm not saying I don't believe that! ;)
  11. I usually pour the entire tub into a sieve which catches all the teeth and larger chunks of flesh, then I poke'n'prode my way through it for any smaller teeth that are hidden.

    The odd time I'll still loose a tooth but for most cases they are all present! I'm always willing to try new ways to salvage all teeth so might take up additional suggestions from this thread!