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#06-39 February 13, 2006

Owl pellets from DNR great educational tool

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources offers education programs for all audiences, and one that’s a sure-bet with youngsters is owl pellets.
Vole skeleton
Owl pellets are masses of bones, teeth, hair, feathers, scales, and insect skeletons. They are produced and regurgitated, not only by owls, but also by hawks, eagles and other raptors, which swallow their prey whole or in large pieces. The soft parts of the prey are dissolved by enzymes and strong acids, which occur in high concentration in the stomachs of raptors. The relatively weak stomach muscles of the bird form the undigested fur, bones, feathers, etc. into wet, slimy pellets. The pellets made available to educators have been fumigated and sterilized for use in classrooms. Each whole pellet usually contains virtually complete skeletons of the animals, which the owl ate the night before the pellet was formed.

For more information on obtaining owl pellets through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), contact Barbara Crouch at crouchb@dnr.sc.gov or call (803) 734-3814 in Columbia. Information is also available on the DNR education Web site at www.dnred.com/owl.htm. All programs and resources have been correlated to S.C. science standards.

The cost of owl pellets is $1.50 each. There will be a $2 shipping fee associated with any order made. If a school requires a purchase order number, the individual school must complete necessary paperwork within its school/school district and fax (803-734-4300) the purchase order number with the following information to the attention of Barbara Crouch. On the fax order be sure to include:

If a school does not require a purchase order number for the purchase of owl pellets then fax the same information request minus the purchase order number. The requester will be billed by mail. Once a proper request has been faxed, owl pellets will be shipped the same day (depending on inventory).            

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