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Cleaning bones...

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A few months ago, I was walking on a railroad and encountered a dead rodent (maybe a ferret, a badger, a raccoon...) on the tracks. Yesterday I went there again and noticed the corpse was still there. The whole flesh was completely decomposed, all that was left was a clean, white, intact skeleton with some little dry hair and skin on the sides. It was a pretty neat sight.

 

In fact, it was so nice and in perfect condition, that I thought I'd like to take the skull back home. I even turned it over to see that there wasn't a trace of brain tissue left. I'll wait to have some gloves and a plastic bag, of course. Still, I know it's probably full of microbes and not a 100% clean of dry skin.

 

Would anybody have a suggestion about a product to use, that would help getting rid of germs, cleaning it good, but at the same time, that would ensure I wouldn't be damaging the skull itself? (If possible, something easy to get your hands on, like bleach, alcohol, etc.)

Any tips to conserve it well?

 

Thank you!

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I know it's not quite the same thing, but I once saw a TV show that said that they use biological washing powder to clean skeletal remains for forensic examination.

Bleach will certainly kill bacteria and it may help soften up the tissue (not to mention helping get rid of any smell).

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I looked around for you. 15-20% Hydrogen Peroxide is used to clean and bleach the bones white but I would not bother for one job.

 

If that skull was mine I'd put it in bleach solution (I part bleach to 10 parts water) for 1 hour should do it..I got this info off a website advising on growing cultures of micro organisms and the cleaning of petri dishes etc when finished . so it should be safe afterwards to handle the skull freely. If there's any fleshy bits afterwards put it in a good strong warm (30-35 degree c) solution of biological washing powder to help free and break those fleshy bits down....leave it a couple of hours for the enzymes to work before you pick and clean it. I would wear household rubber gloves to prevent skin irritation..

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If you are really interested interested in long-term preservation better do not use bleach. While it will not harm it immediately but after a while (which actually can take months) the skull will actually look old and brittle.

If the specimen was still fresh one of the standard techniques is to boil it gently or to let it macerate in warm water. This is probably not really necessary anymore, if your specimen lost most of its meat anyway.

Best fist wash it thoroughly (use gloves and old clothes). The best way to proceed then is, as mentioned above, using biological washing powder (essentially enzymatic detergent). Ideally keep the water temp at 50-60 C, though it depends a bit on what you use. You may even use a detergent that does have antibacterial substances (but not bleach). Though most of the time it is probably not strictly necessary, if it has been cleaned thoroughly. Finally, if you want to have the the skull have a bleached look, hydrogen peroxide is the way to go.

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Never, ever, EVER use bleach. It will cause the bone to crumble to dust within hours of soaking.

 

If you need to whiten it, use hydrogen peroxide. If you just want sterility, plain old soap and water.

 

Don't use anything for too long - teeth are held in by connective tissue, and if that's destroyed, the teeth will fall out.

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I had the same problem and the rock hard bits of dried flesh and whatnot (sinews?) were almost impossible to get off, even with sand paper.

 

I'm guessing boiling it a while may work wonders.

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Hydrogen per oxide it probably your best bet at killing pathogens , after that you may want to boil it for about an hour , that should get rid of everything.

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you could always put vinegar in a pan and the skull with it, there would be both acid and heat to kill any thing.

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No, vinegar will destroy the mineral in the bone, leaving you with little more than a rubbery blob.

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the best way to clean bones that still have flesh on them is by using beetles (that's how museums clean bones, they keep atleast 1 entymologist around that raises and cares for large populations of beetles as part of their job).. drop the bones in and they will get every crevasse >:D . my guess is that the mouse you found was cleaned by either beetles or ants.

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What I use to do for my deer heads was to get a big bucket, fill with water and add a couple of cans of draino and let it work overnight, You might have to repeat this process a few times, but it does work. (DO THIS OUTSIDE!!! fumes are harmfull /Once clean, give your tropyhy a bath in sodium hypochlorite for a couple of hours. This will whiten up your product. Finally to preserve leave outside so oxygen will get at it Your trophy is now done. Leaving outside will not hurt, bones have been out in the elements for centuries. with now continued deterioration.

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Completely wrong. Draino will seriously damage the bones, as will bleach.

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I didnt say my method was the best way to clean flesh from bones. it isnt. but for a beginner it will work. At least my deer skulls are still intact If you really want to clean up flesh from a bone whatever, I would Highly suggest leave your trophy outside and let nature take its course.

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Yes, but a beginner can do just fine with an anthill to clean the meat off and Hydrogen Peroxide to clean. Unlike bleach, H2O2 won't damage the bones and render them chalky and brittle.

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Hey, I just wanted to come back with the results...

So here's what I did.

 

I boiled the skull in ordinary water for about 45 minutes. I then removed the dry skin and hair left. I cleaned it with antibacterial dihwashing soap. I scrubbed it softly with an old toothbrush, I found it was easier to use then a used cloth. I finally put it in some hydrogen peroxide. Scrubbed the little parts with it, and let it dry. It worked very well, for someone who didn't have ressources or money. For now, the skull is doing good. It just took a little yellowish tint, but nothing too bad. Thank you for your tips everyone!

 

By the way, I did some research, and found out it was the skull from a skunk. :)

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