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Old 11-04-2019, 02:10 PM   #1
RenK777
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: East Coast, NJ
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Default Antlers?

Question for all of you! My husband hunts and we try to use as much of the deer as possible in every way possible so that it's not wasted. We prefer this to buying meat in the store that was often raised/dispatched in cruel ways. Last year, he shot a buck and the skull/antlers were still outside. The squirrels and other rodents had chewed one antler quite a bit but the other remains intact. I boiled it yesterday and I'm hoping to use it in my hamster tank. My husband shot another 8 pointer yesterday and I'm hoping to put one antler each in my daughter's hamster's tank and my other daughter's mouse tank. But I want to make sure it's safe. I read online that antlers make great chews and you can buy them specifically for this purpose. Does anyone know if boiling an antler is enough to make it safe or should I also soak in peroxide and boil again? I searched online but aside for aesthetic reasons to bleach (nope) and boil antlers and skulls, I can't find any posts regarding the proper treatment for making them pet-safe. Thanks!
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Old 11-04-2019, 08:10 PM   #2
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: Antlers?

Heat treating any kind of bone is a bad idea. It makes them far more likely to splinter, and antlers are a type of bone. Because of this, your boiled antlers are not a good and safe chew for any pet. Even the littlest amount of heat can render bone type material unsafe to chew, for the mentioned reason of splintering.

There is also very little agreement on whether or not antlers are even safe for pet rodents in the first place, and I would lean heavily towards the side of caution even if yours hadn't been heat treated in any way.

You can still use the antlers for art or decorating though, so definitely don't let them go completely to waste. They may not be suited for using as chews especially once heat treated, but antlers can be absolutely beautiful pieces of art!
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Old 11-05-2019, 08:57 AM   #3
RenK777
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Default Re: Antlers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmityvilleHams View Post
Heat treating any kind of bone is a bad idea. It makes them far more likely to splinter, and antlers are a type of bone. Because of this, your boiled antlers are not a good and safe chew for any pet. Even the littlest amount of heat can render bone type material unsafe to chew, for the mentioned reason of splintering.

There is also very little agreement on whether or not antlers are even safe for pet rodents in the first place, and I would lean heavily towards the side of caution even if yours hadn't been heat treated in any way.

You can still use the antlers for art or decorating though, so definitely don't let them go completely to waste. They may not be suited for using as chews especially once heat treated, but antlers can be absolutely beautiful pieces of art!
Bummer. I wish I hadn't boiled. I found plenty of links regarding making them safe for dogs and the common methods are washing with soapy water or boiling or both. I did put the antler in Yeti's tank last night after I found all the links regarding making them safe for dogs since dogs can't have cooked bones. But I did see some suggest the water / soap method because they worried boiling would make antlers more brittle. I regularly make bone broth and I find the boiled bones are softer and disintegrate after cooking. But that's after 24 to 48 hours of cooking. So that doesn't really eliminate the threat of splintering after a quick boil. Then again, I've seen plenty of antlers/bones in my life on the hundreds of acres that adjoined the property I grew up on. They were often in the sun and bleached from the light/heat and animals had gnawed them. I don't remember seeing splintering but then again, I wasn't looking for it. In any case, Yeti seemed pleased with the arches he could run under but didn't seem interested in chewing the antler. So I'll keep an eye on him. I'm also going to use the antler the squirrels and chipmunks annihilated and see if I can scrape away at it the way a rodent would to see if the scrapes sort of crumble/dust or if they splinter. I have wood working tools somewhere from long ago...thinking one of them would be perfect for a simulation but I have no clue where they are. I was going to just throw that chewed antler back to the squirrels so it would be a great test. In the end, if I find it splinters, I'll just place antler on top of tank as an additional cat deterrent LOL Can never be too safe! And I agree...skulls make great artwork...my husband has a coworker that engraves them and would like some and we'd like to bleach and keep the next one as art in our home. So they definitely won't be wasted if we opt not to keep them in tanks! TY!
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:10 AM   #4
RenK777
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: East Coast, NJ
Posts: 40
Default Re: Antlers?

Wanted to add something I just found for anyone else looking into antlers as chews....I think this individual's advice is spot on. Know the age of the antler, know your pet, and remove any sharp edges/points that can cause injury by cutting or sanding, etc. Lastly, sterilize by blanching...not boiling. https://www.centralparkpaws.net/pet-...safe-for-dogs/ While I did boil the heck out of the skull, I did not have the antlers in as long though sadly, I can't remember exactly how long there were in because I was butchering the deer. I sort of plopped them in, waited a bit, and pulled them out. Sigh. But the next two I'll make sure are in just momentarily to remove any live pathogens/organisms that might be on them. So boiling bad...blanching good
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:27 AM   #5
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: Antlers?

The verdict with bones of any kind from actual raw feeders with proper knowledge is not even blanching. Even a bit of heat treating makes them prone to splintering, and even if it is a smaller level than long periods of heat treating it is not worth the risk.

I would remove any boiled or otherwise heat treated antlers immediately, and give up on any amount of heat treating. It is not safe, even if one website is in favor of blanching. Boiled bones in bone broth are softer, yes, but that doesn't make them safe for pets to chew on either as they are still prone to splintering which is extremely dangerous for any pet. Also keep in mind that wild animals often get into things that are definitely not safe for our pets to be ingesting, so it isn't always the best idea to rely on what wild animals are chewing on or eating.
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