It was another scorching hot day of 27 °C, so out came the parasol once again so I could hide under it’s shade.
On Friday I was given a tawny owl pellet so today I sat in the garden and began to dissect it.
I didn’t bother soaking the pellet in water first as it was quite soft and started to come apart easily. I got my tweezers and long needle and carefully pulled the fur apart to find all the little bones inside the pellet.
After I had picked out all the bones, I then started to study them. I counted the number of skulls in the pellet and gathered the jaw bones to study further.
It’s amazing seeing all the different types of teeth, skull and jaw bones. Some people may look at the bones in front of me and just say….”well it’s just a small mammal, probably a mouse. All those bones look alike so whats so interesting about that?”
The thing is. If you look more closely you will see that skulls, jawbones and teeth are all different. Once you get your eye in you start to spot the difference between a vole, shrew and mouse. There are a number of clues to look out for such as; shrews have a red tip on their teeth and voles have a zigzag like pattern to their molars.
That’s why I love dissecting owl pellets. They are like a jigsaw puzzle and are a wealth of information about the biodiversity in the owls hunting area.
So next time you find an owl pellet, why not have a go at dissecting it. The bones are normally quite easy to extract with tweezers and it is great fun to examine all those bones and find out about the small mammals that live in the area. It’s great getting so close up to nature.