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How to clean an armadillo

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by elizw, May 19, 2008.

  1. elizw

    elizw New Member

    Ok. I'm going to dissect and "clean up" an Armadillo soon (I don't have it yet)- but I don't know what the exterior is made of.

    Question: Is the exterior, a "shell" and bone like? After I dissect it, can I clean the exterior as if it were bone?
    Or does it get tanned ?
  2. Fishhunt223

    Fishhunt223 New Member

    The armor is not like a bone. You will have to skin it and tan it. It is like a hard skin. When I did part of an amadillo, I skinned it and then used an ulu knife and a jim hall style flesher to remove the fat type stuff on the shell. It was not too hard but it was kind of time consuming.

  3. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    In the North American nine-banded armadillo there is bone plates within the skin on the body proper, much like the bony plates within a crocodilian skin on the mid-back. There is a layer of keratin type material covering the surface which gives it a sheen and color. I believe that the tail portion is only keratinaceous material and no bone is involved, but it is as hard as deer hooves. Extracting the bone undamaged in the tail region is not easy - get a series of chisels handy or a small saw.
  4. ace man

    ace man New Member

    the shell and tail is made of bone
  5. Fishhunt223

    Fishhunt223 New Member

    Is that cleaned with beetles Gator Dun.
  6. gohunt

    gohunt New Member

    Y'all do know that there is some evidence that shows that Armodillos are carriers of Leprosy, right. I've heard that for years. A friend of mine shot one in Georgia, brought it to Tennessee to have it mounted, but the taxidermist wouldn't touch it because of this. See this link http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a990219.html
  7. gohunt - that has floated around for years... dunno the validity of it ...

    we used to hunt them in the roadsides in the early 70s in the dunellon area of Fl... not bad eating if cooked right... was not into taxidermy at the time too young.. am looking forward to getting back to the area though... fill the freezer with good specimens etc..

    contact Gravity Kills - her daughter just cleaned up at the CAT convention... the little one should be able to answer questions on doing the dillo...

  8. Peggy Obear

    Peggy Obear New Member

    Yes they are the only thing besides humans to carry it, so what??
    There is also anthrax in the dirt in Texas and I have no idea what kind of crap comes in the crates from Africa.
    As to mounting,, it ain't brain surgery , skin it, scrape it and use dry perservative. The ears need to be set with something to retain there shape.
  9. ace man

    ace man New Member

    yeah travis i used beetles to clean these armadillos i tried maceration but the shell and tail fell apart to a million pieces, the seem to hold up just fine though soaking in peroxide fo a few days.
  10. Gator, That is a cool shell. Have you tried to do a complet Armadillo skeleton with the shell ? Dean
  11. ace man

    ace man New Member

    thanks dean ive done a few complete aramadillo skeletons heres some pics
  12. ace man

    ace man New Member

  13. elizw

    elizw New Member

    Wow. Gator, I'm impressed. Those are really cool. :) That is, essentially, what I had in mind.

    So, after I'm done pulling the thing apart, can I just clean it up like I would any other skull? I do not have any beatles...

    You mention that the exterior is very fragile? Tips? Advice? Maceration with warm water is not good?

    Any tips would be great.

  14. Thanks for the photos Gator. You did a great job. It looks very nice. Dean
  15. Helicity

    Helicity Squirrels – Natures Road Bumps

    Gator after seeing all your skeletons I have to once again say you are amazing.
  16. ace man

    ace man New Member

    thanks for the kind words. elizw you could clean the armadillo skeleton by maceration , not the shell or the tail they would likely to fall apart ,the shell could be cleaned by hand by scraping the meat off the inside with a knife a wire wheel in the drill also works good , when i clean my shells with the beetles i try and get it out before the eat the skin in between the bands this way it holds together better and its less glue i have to use, the tail is a tough one though i wouldn't know how to clean it with out using beetles . since you don't have beetles i could help you out if you want to send me your shell and tail and i can clean them with my beetles for a small fee can also scrape the scutes off and whiten it if you like .
  17. elizw

    elizw New Member

    Wow. That is very kind and generous of you, but I like a good challenge!

    I'm told a drill can clean out the tail....
  18. O. hemionus

    O. hemionus New Member

    Gator, I know I'm reviving an old topic, but I'd appreciate some advice on an armadillo project I'm working on. I'm a wildlife biologist currently living in Alabama while I finish my master's. I'm not a taxidermist, but would am trying to learn since I collect specimens of pretty much everything I find. I came across a dead armadillo in a field one day, so I took it home and skinned it out (it was mostly clean already, thanks to the vultures). I then took a wire wheel to the scutes, and scraped all the flesh off of the inside really well (also used a wire wheel on the inside to make sure I got everything off). The shell was looking great throughout the process, but I had to stop working on it for a while because I got busy with some of my master's research. When I came back to it, many of the scutes along the bands had become semi-transparent and had lost their white color (see picture below). Do you know why this happened?

    Secondly, after I finished getting all the scutes off, I applied a hydrogen peroxide/hair bleach powder paste to the shell for some extra whitening and to kill off any remaining bacteria. A few days after I had washed the paste off, I found several black splotches on the shell (again, see picture below). At this point, I'm afraid I'm just going to have to paint the whole thing white, as it doesn't look so hot anymore. Any suggestions on how to improve the look and how to avoid this problem in the future (if I ever come across a nice armadillo carcass again, which is doubtful)? I need to work on the skull plates now, and I would also like to avoid this problem with the skull piece. Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  19. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Gator has not been on here since 2011.

    I have never worked on an armadillo but what I am seeing looks like grease. Oil and grease soaking into the bone will make it look transparent like that. Think bacon grease on a brown paper bag. Soak it in acetone for a month or so and check again. The acetone will not hurt or alter the bone in any way but it will help to remove some of the oils that are there. Not sure what the black is. If you can post more detailed pictures it always helps. Take good quality, large pictures and put them up on Photobucket for free. Then you can put the links to the pictures here.

    Slow down and be patient with something like this. Do NOT paint it. Paint covers all the details of the structure and that grease will just come through it anyway and make it look more of a mess. The black might be mold but I'm not sure. The grease can be removed but it takes time.
  20. O. hemionus

    O. hemionus New Member

    Thanks, Sea Wolf. I would not be surprised if it was grease causing the issue, especially since there is a greasy connective tissue that holds each of the individual bands in place in the middle of the shell. I may try removing the connective tissue and reconnecting the individual bands with glue later. Any suggestions on how to acquire large quantities of acetone? Would you recommend fully submerging the shell in acetone or regularly applying it with a brush? I'm a little nervous about soaking the shell in anything for a large period of time, since I've seen quite a few armadillo shells crumble (not as a result of a particular chemical necessarily, more so just because the shell is made up of hundreds of individual little pieces).

    I'll try to upload some more pictures of the black spots later. It seems like it is below the surface somehow, so I don't think it will wash off well. Maybe the acetone will help.