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Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice please

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Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice please

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:19 am


I have discovered that, despite being a rather talented artist, the thing that sells best for me on Etsy are bones! And not just skulls, but bones of all kinds. I have sold rooster leg bones, pot bellied pig vertebra, skulls of all kinds and sizes, teeth and tusks.

Up until now I have either found the bits on walks or had them left over from cooking but now, I have run out and am starting to clean things for selling and have realized how little I know. :lol:

So, if you have any hints or tips or advice on bone/skull cleaning, degreasng, whitening, brightening, defleshing.........

Anything really!

Unlike Craigslist, Etsy is a global market so I don't think we can saturate the market with skulls. :lol:

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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#2  Unread postby shazza » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:23 am


i've been selling bones on etsy for a couple years now! i generally don't have too much trouble selling what i have, though i have a couple of skulls that have been up for ages and i can't get rid of. guess people just don't want beavers this time of year :T



my general process is:

- acquire skull. i tend to buy from trappers on taxidermy.net for variety, but i also pick up occasional roadkill and of course my rabbits.

- toss skull in bucket with a couple inches of water. keeps it moist for the buggos. i put a lid on the bucket that has some large holes drilled in it, and wait. the flies do a fantastic job and usually i have a clean skull in a week. there's plenty of other ways to do it, though, i wrote up a simple rundown of the methods here: http://vulturecat.tumblr.com/post/16576 ... ure-here-i many people deflesh their skulls and especially whole skeletons, and you will need to for some of these methods, but i'm lazy and find it really unecessary for the method i use, so i don't bother. the bugs will take care of everything for me

- drain water/soup from skull bucket through a sieve or two to catch any teeth

- soak skull in a container of dawn dish soap and water for a few days or until the smell is gone and scrub off any grave wax. the method i use to clean skulls generally degreases them as they go. depending on what method you pick, you may need to do a degreasing step. you can use dawn dish soap and hot (important!) water, or ammonia, whichever is easier for you.

- put the teeth in. i use loctite gel super glue. i suggest trying to figure out which tooth goes where BEFORE placing glue lol.

- whiten if you want. i like to put teeth in before i whiten so it's all evenly coloured. this just involves putting the skull in a container of 3% perioxide until it's the colour i want. i tend to prefer a natural bone colour, so i really only whiten if the skull is stained really oddly or if the client requests it.
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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#3  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:11 pm


I have dermestid beetles but I can't say I highly recommend them. They have been a pain since I got them but when I do have enough numbers to clean something they do a good job.

I finally got an old freezer converted into a box for them and for the first time didn't get any ham beetles in the box all summer. Now I just have to figure out a way to heat the box without letting the beetles out.

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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#4  Unread postby GBov » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:17 pm


Its funny about the beetles, I was going to get some but didn't have the time to give to doing them properly so imagine my surprise when I moved the 'gator remains after a week or so and found the ground heaving with them. Seems they sorted themselves without any help from me! :lol:

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If its warm enough in your area for Soldier Fly larva to be active, a layer of pine pellet horse bedding in an open container, heads in, covered with more bedding and then hosed down really well. ADD the larva - I got mine in a bag of rotten carrots that the kids forgot to give to the pigs but you can get them online - and away you go.

The pine blocks much of the smell and the larva do a really good job. I guess carion fly larvae would do the same job but like pollinators, their numbers are down so they might not show up.

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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Marinea » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:56 am


My local Veterinary program had a public Family Day, and they had a collection of skulls (mostly large animal). I asked if they would like a rabbit skull and they were excited about it, but not sure I could do this. Mostly because I am not sure where I could keep it where the dogs or predators couldn't get to it.
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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#6  Unread postby alforddm » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:11 am


I'm pretty pleased with the way my freezer box has worked out thus far with the beetles. I ended up getting a thermostat for seedlings and then adding a light for heat controlled by the thermostat. It's been working really well. The box was getting to hot with just a 60 w bulb but this is keeping the temperature right at 76F even when it's cold. I drilled a hole in the top and ran the light plug and thermostat through it and then stuff it back with fine steel wool. I hope that works well to keep them contained.

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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#7  Unread postby GBov » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:50 pm


That sounds a fab set up Afforddm!

Speaking of old fridges/freezers, I have just put the old fridge on its back, taken the doors off and bits out and will cut a hole through from freezer to fridge, put a heat lamp in the freezer side, deep bed both sides with shavings and brood my chicks in it.

They can go to the cold side for food and water and return to the heat when they get cold. Like they do when they have a hen raising them.

Wire over the top and hey presto! Perfect brooder. Well, I hope it is anyway. :lol:

Second lot of rabbit skulls and jaw bones in 50 50 water hydrogen peroxide. It gave just enough brightening to the first ones that it is worth doing but by gum, they don't half take ages to get properly dry again!

__________ Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:50 pm __________

Have given the latest rabbit skulls a brush over and wash and they are now drying.

Isn't it funny how something so familiar can still have new things to discover? Just yesterday I found out that rabbits actually have SIX teeth in the front, rather than four! :shock:

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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#8  Unread postby shazza » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:54 pm


yep! that's pretty much one of the only things separating lagomorphs from rodents - those two little vestigial peg teeth behind the front incisors :p
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Re: Cleaning bones for selling? Hints, tips and advice plea

Post Number:#9  Unread postby GBov » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:20 pm


shazza wrote:yep! that's pretty much one of the only things separating lagomorphs from rodents - those two little vestigial peg teeth behind the front incisors :p


Yep, and despite my having removed the heads of hundreds, if not thousands of rabbits, I had never seen them until I gave some heads to maggots instead of the dogs. :lol:

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