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Bird Skull Maceration

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by calcaneus, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. calcaneus

    calcaneus New Member

    Hi guys! (first post so tell me if i'm doing anything wrong :))

    I'm just getting started with collecting skulls and my main interest right now is bird skulls. I was reading about maceration to clean skulls and wondered if maceration would be a good way to clean a bird skull? (or are there simpler ways for this?)

    Also, i've read that maceration generates a lot smell, would this be the same for a bird skull? Let's say 1 or 2 bird skulls in a bucket, with regular water changes?

    Also would this be a good way to do it:
    -1 sealed bucket
    -1 aquarium heater at 90F
    -1 or 2 bird heads
    -regular water changes, (once in 3 days?)

    (Should I add any chemicals/enzymes/...)

    A beetle tank isn't a possibility.
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Maceration is an excellent way to clean fragile bones like this. I would not put more than one skull in each container unless you are a Pro at IDing bones. There are parts of the skulls that will separate and they will be mixed together. If you are not good at looking at small bones and knowing what belongs to what skull and where I wouldn't mix them. You can take freezer Zip lok bags and float them in your bucket of heated water though. Put a skull in each bag, fill mostly with water and zip it closed. This will make a small air bubble which will keep it floating in the heated water and keep the bones together for each. Don't add anything to the water. The bacteria are already there. After a couple of days, pull the skulls and slide off the beak sheaths. Keep those separate in a small container of water with some alcohol added until the skulls are clean and glued back together. Then you can glue the outer beak back on. If you want to retain the sclerotic rings in the eyes, you will have to clean those by hand as maceration will make them fall apart into tint bits. Even beetles will destroy them if they are not monitored.
    Tanglewood Taxidermy likes this.

  3. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I have successfully done what Sea Wolf said with turkey skulls.
  4. Lammergeier

    Lammergeier New Member

    At my work we sometimes have to sterilize multiple items with small pieces (usually it's some component that's broken and needs repair) in the same liquid solutions together. We keep all the tiny parts in their correct groupings and items separated by putting each one inside an organza bag like these. It seems to work well; the liquid sterilizing solutions can get through fine and the items come out clean. Do you think something like that would work in this situation? Or would you just end up with flesh slurry in a bag and regretting your life? :D
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    With maceration, that would make a bit of a nightmare. What you can do for multiple smaller specimens is put each one in a smaller plastic container with water and then place all of those together in one, larger, heated container. But you still have to prep each specimen properly first.