Date of Award

Spring 1950

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Life & Environmental Sciences

Abstract

A light spotted rattle snake about thirty six inches in length was obtained from the Helena Police Department in September 1949. The snake was killed a few weeks later, by placing it in a apple box with a stick supplied with a wire loop firmly around its neck, of course any reasonable large size box could have be n used, because the box was used only so as to push the snake’s head up against a piece of cotton, which was kept saturated with ether and the nose of the snake was pushed against the cotton until the snake had become asphxiated. The snake put up a great resistance and the process of killing took about thirty minutes, after this time it still was not certain that the snake was dead, so to remove all doubt and for safety the snake was placed in a fifteen gallon drum with a firmly attached cover for two hours with a large piece of cotton inside also, which was saturated with ether.

After two hours the snake was removed from the drum. It was then certain that the snake was dead, so the process of skinning it took place. All of the skin was removed from the body and the skin was of no use so it was thrown away. The rattles were then separated from the body at the last vertebrae and the rattles were kept in a small box for protection until they were mounted. The abdomen was then cut open and all of the inards were removed, also the soft flesh of its body was removed as much as possible with out destroying its bones.

The process of maceration recommended by Libbie Hyman (Comparative Anatomy, Page 370) was used. By this process the snake was placed in a porcelin pan, which was very large, and there was enough water put in the pan to completely cover the snake at all times. Hie pan was then placed in the open air, but in a place where no foreign objects could enter the pan, such as metal and wood because such substances would discolor the bones, so to prevent this a window screen was placed over the pan. The bones were left in water until all of the flesh had become loosened, to aid this process the bones were brushed frequently with a small brush and the water was changed as often as the bones were brushed. This process was done rather than boiling, so as not to injure the bones which were small and delicate, this procedure was rather long and boredom, but nevertheless it proved beneficial.

When the bones were somewhat clean the vertebre was divided into four different sections and placed in separate containers so that the bones and vertebrae would not get mixed up. Additional washing and cleaning was done in these containers and after the vertebrae were completely dean they were transfered to a small wire. The wire was small enough to go through all of the vertebrae even those small vertebrae in the tail.

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