Science experiments for kids are a fantastic way to pass the long, hot, summer days. One of our summer learning projects this summer was to dissect owl pellets. Owl pellets are a ball of bones, fur, and other things that an owl eats. An owl eats its prey whole (can you imagine?) since they do not have teeth. In the owl’s stomach the prey slowly digests, by separating the softer materials (like the meat) from the harder materials (like the bones). Then it regurgitates (that’s a fancy word for vomits) up the harder materials in the form of a pellet. Owls often eat more than one rodent before regurgitating the remains.
For this experiment I ordered this set of Owl Pellets (Set of 5 with Bone Chart). If I had known how much fun my girls would have with this experiment I would have ordered the set of 10 owl pellets instead. Little Sister has said that she is saving her money to buy more owl pellets. I am not even kidding. It was that much fun. OK, so maybe it wasn’t fun at the beginning when the owl pellets were gross and scary to touch, but as we dissected them at the table together as a family they became a lot less intimidating!
Materials Required for Owl Pellet Dissection
Science Experiments for Kids – Dissect an Owl Pellet
Hypothesize with your children about what will be in the owl pellet. They can even draw a photo of what they think they will find.
Gently pull your pellet apart being careful not to break any of the bones inside. The pellet has formed a hard outer layer and will need to be pulled apart. Using the plastic forceps or toothpicks separate the bones from the fur/feathers. Be gentle with the skulls and jawbones since they are very fragile. Identifying animals by skulls is the easiest way to see which animal was the owl’s prey.
Once you have found all the bones, try to reconstruct the skeletons of the animals. Use a chart to classify the bones.
Glue the bones together to form a skeleton. If that is above the age level of the child you are working with…simply glue all the bones to a piece of paper.
Analyze the bones. What can you tell about the owl’s digestive system based on the owl pellets? How many different animals did you find in your owl pellet? What did your owl pellet feel like when you started? What did it feel like in the end?
Watch this YouTube Video about owl pellets before you embark on this project. I think it is great…and I wish we had watched it before we started dissecting.
The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book is sure to add even more fun science to your family.
What do you think – will you try this science experiment at your house? Do you have a science experiment that you love? Please share if you do!
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