Bone collection is a hobby that has found many takers today. Every animal’s bone, when allowed by law, can be collected as part of a collection. Of course, special permits and licenses will be needed when collecting fossilized bones and bones of endangered animals; but nobody will mind if you are collecting bones of the road kill you found or that of the dead squirrel in your garden. If you are new to this, here are some tips that will come in handy:
Tips on where and when to collect bones
- One of the first places you should look for while collecting bones, is your local water body. A good many animal bones, especially those of birds can be found on beaches. Dry hummocks in swampy areas may also provide a good source as can dry river/stream banks of seasonal rivers/streams.
- Depressions in woods or large open fields, gullies and ravines are also another source you can look into. Animals, often sick and injured animals, take shelter in such places to protect themselves against winds.
- As for when to collect bones, late spring is one of the best times of the year, especially for those living in places where there is a very cold winter. As the snow melts, it is easier to spot bones as the new vegetation does not spring up immediately and the older ones are still matted down. Many old, sick and injured animals die during the harsh winters, and by the time the snow melts, they decompose leaving behind a perfect skeleton for you to unearth.
- Another good time of the year is the Fall or autumn as the falling leaves form a perfect contrasting background for the white bones. But it is not as easy as in spring as you have to seek by standing dry vegetation that hid the bones below.
Tips on what to do once you have spotted bones to collect
- Before you go out to collect the bones or carcass, you should have a designated place to keep them once you get hold of them. Leaving bones or carcass unattended is not a good idea as it is bound to attract flies and other bugs. If left outside, it can be tempered by other animals. A sealed clear Rubbermaid container is a good choice as you can see your collection through the glass but the foul smell will not pollute your home.
- Be careful while picking up the bones especially in forests. If the carcasses look fresh or just decomposed be aware of carnivorous animals in that area. If collecting a road kill, make sure the road is empty before you attempt to pick it up. Also avoid visiting forests and wooded areas during hunting season; and if you do, wear bright orange clothes which make it easier for hunter to spot. Such bright clothes are also recommended when collecting bones from road-kill.
- Don’t collect fresh remains as they can be health hazard. Wait for Mother Nature to do its work and remove as much skin and tissues as possible before you collect the bones for your collection.
- Never ever pick up bones using bare hands; there are chances of diseases and contamination. So always wear non-porous latex gloves while handling bones. When you reach home, remember to put the gloves as well as your clothes into bleach-water solution to sterilize them before washing them in soapy water.
Tips on cleaning bones
- The first thing you do, when you bring a bone home, is spray anti-bug formula on it to remove any bugs. Such sprays are also not good for you; so remember to wear a mask and do this in a well-ventilated area.
- Next is the cleaning procedure of the bones. If it still has tissues and flesh attached to it, the first job is to remove as much of them as possible using either your gloved hands or a knife, without damaging the bones.
- Next soak them in Ammonia water (1.6 cups for a gallon of water) overnight. Then remove the bones, one by one and scrape away the remaining tissues and ligament; if clean, scrub them with a brush. Place them on old newspaper or clothes to dry.
Of course, if you want to avoid all these hassles, you can always buy animal bones for sale online. Skulls, which are most difficult to clean and dry, are often found in specialized websites that also offer real human skulls for sale. In such sites, you can also put up your collected skulls for sale or connect with fellow enthusiast to exchange pieces for your collection.