Owl Pellets

5/19/19

I remember dissecting owl pellets in elementary school as well as in junior high school. My son wanted to check them out, so I said...definitely yes! Owl pellets are compressed nuggets of fur and bones that the owls regurgitate (ie. puke), that is, the things the owls cannot digest when they eat mice, rats, voles, and other animals.

We purchased these owl pellets: If you're wondering, they sanitize the pellets using heat, and they come wrapped tightly in tinfoil. The kit also came with a few wood sticks (which we didn't find useful), two hard plastic tweezers that we found extremely useful, and a hard plastic magnifying glass. There was also an information sheet, with links to online resources like bone charts.

After we dissected the owl pellets, we looked up some of our best specimens. We were surprised to find the large number of bones that we did! We found many dozens of single bones like vertebrae, tibia, fibula, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, mandible, and about ten skulls of varying completeness of mice and one of a rat (pictured). We also soaked all the bones in diluted bleach (1 cup bleech 2-3 cups water) overnight, and that made the bones nice and white and burned off the rest of the fur that we could not manually remove.

We strongly recommend getting some owl pellets and taking them apart. It was really fun and interesting. What bones will you find and what will you learn about owls?

Thanks for reading!


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