10. Genuine Barn Owl Pellets
Whether you purchase sterilized barn owl pellets or find them yourself, our goal is that everyone be able to enjoy this hands on lesson in exploration! At Kidwings, we think there’s a world of discovery waiting to be had by your students. Watch the short video to the right to see what we found in an owl pellet!
Before you dissect barn owl pellets, it’s important that they be sterilized. Sterilization not only ends the food chain but it also eliminates the small risk that a contagion might be on the pellet that would cause sickness.
The main degradation to barn owl pellets is the food chain. When flies and other insects make the pellet their meal, they consume all but the bones. One of the first insects to feast is the common fly. Flies will lay their eggs and when those larvae hatch, they’re hungry! Heat sterilization kills these little critters and ensures that your owl pellets will last long enough for your students’ enjoyment.
Risk of contagions is always a consideration when handling any animal waste. Owl pellets are vomited up and quite honestly, there’s more risk from where they are found rather than from the pellet. To be safe, we sterilize them. Owl Brand Discovery Kits is one of the leading suppliers of owl pellets to schools and companies and here is their recommendation.
Tips for sterilizing your owl pellets
- The first step is to make sure your pellets are dry. Put them in the sun or someplace with a fan long enough so that they don’t feel heavy from moisture.
- Once dried, if you’re just dissecting a few at a time as you pick them up, place them in a foil lined baking tin.
- Heat the pellets at 275 degrees for at least 90 minutes.
- If you’re saving them for future use, wrap them in four inch squares of aluminum foil. Do Step 3.
- Let cool to room temperature before placing in a resealable plastic bag.
Once dried, wrapped, and bagged, pellets can last up to six months without concern. After that, OBDK recommends re-sterilizing.
Before you dive into the pellet, however, it’s important to understand how the pellet is made! The image below will show you how an owl pellet is formed. Go ahead and click on the image to find the entire guide that will walk you the remaining way to dissecting your owl pellet!
Now you’re ready to pull your treasures apart! Using your fingers and some basic tools such as tweezers and bamboo probes, start dissecting. Once you’ve found bones that correspond with the bone charts below, you’re just about to put together the mystery of owl pellets. Good job!