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First time gator skull maceration pics

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by dublelung, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. I was one of 920 statewide Mississippi residents who was fortunate enough to obtain a alligator permit this year and was also fortunate enough to tag out on my 2nd night of hunting. I hunted the 1st night with a fellow Taxinet forum member who has done hundreds of various skulls as well as my first gator skull several years ago. I've done a lot of deer and furbearer skulls but been too intimidated to try a gator until he assured me I could handle it. My first tag filled was a 6'4" and a few hours later got the 11 footer.
    Here's a few pics of the gators before skinning:
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    The head with majority of meat trimmed off, eyes removed, and jaw separated. Ready for the maceration tank.

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    I ran the temp between 95-100 deg for 6 days then checked it. I changed out half the water and gave it 6 more days and all meat and skin was gone. I saved half the water, cleaned the sludge off the bottom and filled it back with 50% dirty 50% clean warm water and gave it another week. This is what it looked like this evening when I checked it.

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    I removed all of the teeth and bones, cleaned the tank, and filled it with Dawn and water. Got it running at 112 deg for the next few weeks. Will check it once or twice a week and change out degreasing solution as needed. Hopefully will have update in a few weeks.
     
  2. Looking at 3-4 months to degrease a decent sized one like that. The black on the teeth did you leave the lid closed during maceration? The teeth I have found that I lay them out on something the way they come out its a whole lot easier to get them back to the holes they go in. During maceration I leave the top and bottom tooth side up so the teeth dont fall out and pull them out accordingly after maceration. Ziptie that sucker up good to before it starts separating. Gonna be a nice skull!
     

  3. I did leave the lid closed the whole time but unfortunately didn't think to position it so the teeth wouldn't fall out. I took a few reference photos before starting but it's still going to be tough getting them back where they go. Thanks for the zip tie suggestion, I'll do it this evening as it's already becoming loose. Unbelievable how such a big strong head is so fragile.
     
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Positively Zip Tie it. If you have pieces that fall out you can easily replace them. There is a post on here with links to all the bones of a gator skull and where they all go. The black will go away with peroxide. You can also see this effect of black teeth on the post I did about macerating beaver heads.

    For the picture of all the gator bones go here www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php?topic=350843 Sadly the real page is now lost but right click on that and "View Image" so see the bigger version.
     
  5. Thanks Seawolf.
     
  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I've added another link onto that post. I contacted the professor that did the research and the info has been moved to another site which he sent me the link to. The individual bones can all be seen and examined in 3D and their location on the skull is also shown. Should be a big help if any pieces come free and you are wondering where they should go.
     
  7. I bookmarked it! No doubt I'll have to reference it. Thanks again.
     
  8. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Certainly always separate the top and bottom jaw and place in maceration water with the teeth up. When it's "ripe", lift each tooth out and place in a organizer. I'd hate to know I had to sort 80 teeth not knowing whether they were left of right, upper or lower! After degreasing, soak in peroxide a few days and place in direct sunlight. Re-assemble any pieces while its wet, because they are not user friendly to assemble when its "bone dry"!
     
  9. I wouldn't put the teeth in the peroxide. Leave them the way they are. It looks much better when the skull is nice and white and the teeth still have some color on them.
     
  10. Those teeth are now black so I would recommend to whiten them. They look awesome if natural. Honestly although it's 80 teeth what you will find is its pretty simple to put them back. The big long ones will be the canines. The bulky more square ones will go to the back. Smaller pointy ones will go in the curvature of the jawline. Will be tough but not too bad. While lot easier when lined out though, good luck!
     
  11. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    A little soapy water will generally get the black off gator teeth. I agree that they look better not whitened. Still, there is no need to make misery for oneself. Lift out those teeth and put them in egg cartons or something to organize them. Personally, I only have so many minutes left on this planet, and I don't care to waste any of them trying to sort out gator teeth.
     
  12. Before this gator season, I finally got around to macerating my 2013 gator. I placed it in water for a few days, then pulled it out and separated the top and bottom jaws. Then, I ziptied it up really well and let it soak. I oriented the skull sections so that gravity would keep the teeth in. Only "lost" 5 teeth. Decomp gasses floated them out of their sockets. I pulled and organized the teeth and put them in these Styrofoam containers. It's been sitting like this for about 6 weeks now waiting on me to feel like degreasing it. I'm a little lazy...or a lot lazy...


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  13. skullclnr

    skullclnr Active Member

    Always always point teeth up when rotting a gator, two many to deal with if they fall out. Nice looking gators.
     
  14. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Mudcat, how long is that skull? Looks very nice.
     
  15. I measured the bottom jaw this morning. From tip of the front to tip of the back, it measures 24 inches. This came from an 11'8" gator weighing 600 lbs on the nose.

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  16. Thats a hoss of a gator! I killed a monster that I wish I could have weighed. It had a 27" skull on it.
     
  17. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Damn!
     
  18. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey


    Nice gator! I don't think as many gigantic ones were harvested this year as in past years. I've got one to mount that weighted 720 lbs...not really looking forward to it.
     
  19. Wow....720 lbs. I wouldn't have minded having mine above done into a head on rug, but gosh dog. You gotta have some big walls or a lot of floor. Mine was 61 inches around. That's 5 feet wide of just gator hide. Putting a border of some sort around it to make it look nice would push it around 6. I dang sure wouldn't want to find space for a 720 lb'er. I went on and skinned mine out for garment(?) tanning. American Tanning Co wants about 450 to tan it into a leather for boots/wallets/etc...

    I have helped to skin 10 gators over the past 3 seasons. 6 of them were from 10'9" to 12'1". It was neat seeing how they weren't all alike. Sometimes there's a lot of size and weight in those few inches of length, and other times there aren't. Some are noticeably "flatter" and thinner.

    Here is another pic of mine from 2013.
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    This 12'1" gator from the 2015 season is the longest we have caught.
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    We caught another in 2014 that was 11'11".
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    Though longer, neither of them were as big as my gator pictured above and we didn't try to weigh them.

    An 11'8" gator from this season was much like mine above. It had shoulders. It had a few inches of tail missing which meant it should have been right around 12 feet. It had a 62 inch girth and weighed 620.
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    An 11'4" incher from this season weighed in at right at 450.
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    11'5" from this season.
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    10'9" from this season.
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  20. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!