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Owl Pellets (DOC download)

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					                                 Owl Pellets For Dissection

Prior to performing experiments with owl pellets, it is a good idea to know more about
them to start with. This fact sheet will attempt to answer the most frequently asked
questions on the subject.

What Is It?

Simply put, an owl pellet is a mass of undigested parts from a bird's meals. Some bird
species usually regurgitate these masses. Their lack of teeth requires them to swallow
their food whole where the stomach does the digesting.

What are they used For?

Owl pellets provide a glimpse of their diet, that is, what they actually eat. Ornithologists
gather and collect these specimens to discover seasonal variations in a bird's eating
habits. This enables experts to learn more about the bird without having to kill and dissect
it.

Where Can they be Found?

Birds usually get rid of pellets before hunting. A good place to start looking is the bird's
nest or maybe its known hunting grounds. These are the most prevalent areas although
there are slight variations with different bird species.

What Is Inside?

The contents of an owl pellet depend on what the bird feeds on. Typically found are small
bones from rodents, plant matter that cannot be digested, exoskeletons of some insects,
fur, feather, and the list goes on.

As a rule of thumb, if the bird cannot digest it, it will end up in a pellet which it expels.

How Do They Form?

Once an owl swallows its meal, it travels down its gastrointestinal tract. In contrast to
humans though, it can't break down all that material. All the contents that cannot be
broken down must be expelled by the owl. It might seem difficult however the owl will
be fine afterwards.

Is It Safe To Dissect?

Due to the fact that it is essentially an animal dropping, it may contain harmful
substances. As a basic safety measure, ensure that you sterilize the pellet before starting
an experiment. Also, observe proper laboratory guidelines especially when using
appropriate safety equipment.
Some Crucial Guidelines

Dissecting pellets should be performed on proper venues such as science laboratories.
Adult supervision is recommended when children are undertaking the experiment. Make
sure to wash your hands thoroughly after dissecting.

Owl pellets provide a great opportunity as teaching tools. Any curious child or adult can
get started straight away. Luckily, kits are available from educational materials suppliers
to meet anyone's requirements. These kits contain all of the needed material for the
experiment including the pellet itself. Have fun learning with this exceptional resource.

				
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