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Animal skeleton

Submitted by sat on 26 October 2016

In Brief:

Source of animal:

We recommend you check with your school jurisdiction for regulations regarding the use of dead animals or animal body parts that may not be sourced from a certified abattoir, butcher or science supply company. More information can be found on the Science ASSIST website link: Dissection materials

Zoonotic diseases:

There is a risk of contracting a zoonotic disease from handling living or dead animals. Zoonotic diseases are any diseases or infections that can be transmitted between animals and humans generally caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses. However, by following the safety procedures outlined below you will reduce any risk to quite a low level. Sheep do potentially carry a number of diseases and pathogens transmissible to humans however the risks associated with old skeletal remains would be less than those associated with handling a fresh carcass. The following link gives a good overview of potential hazards in this area.

Science ASSIST recommendations:

It is important to follow the safety precautions outlined below:

Recommended procedure for cleaning and sterilising dry animal bones

The Tasmanian Museum1 recommends the following method for cleaning and sterilising dry animal bones for collections.



Sterilising and whitening

Additional information:


For examining skeletal and muscle systems you could also consider using the following:

Small animals and animal parts can also be purchased through biological supply companies. See the Science ASSIST School science suppliers list.


1Gordon, Tammy. 2016. Natural Science Collections Officer, Tasmanian Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston. Personal communication

2How to clean animal bones – the complete guide: Jake’s Bones   (Accessed October 2016)

3Using hydrogen peroxide for bleaching skulls and animal bones   (Accessed October 2016)

Chem-Supply Pty Ltd. Safety Data Sheet: 35% Hydrogen peroxide  (Accessed October 2016)

Chem-Supply Pty Ltd. Safety Data Sheet: 3% Hydrogen peroxide.  (Accessed October 2016)

Chem-Supply Pty Ltd. Safety Data Sheet: Sodium hypochlorite (Hospital grade disinfectant)  (Accessed October 2016)

‘List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools’, Science ASSIST website /resource/3052/list-recommended-chemicals-science-australian-schools?search-id=34587a4 (October 2016)

‘National Code of Practice for the Control of Work-related Exposure to Hepatitis and HIV (Blood-borne) Viruses [NOHSC: 2010(2003)]’, Safe Work Australia website (1 January 1993)

Zoonoses – Animal diseases that may also affect humans. (29 July 2015), Agriculture Victoria website  (Accessed October 2016)