To recap: my rat Chuck passed away on Monday and I decided to mummify him in the Ancient Egyptian fashion; this blog documents the process. Before we resume, a warning:
THE FOLLOWING BLOG IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH! IT CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE EMBALMING PROCESS, INCLUDING THE DISSECTION AND EVISCERATION OF DEAR, SWEET CHUCK.
I left off yesterday with the description of how I removed the brain. Now I will describe the removal of the organs. First made an incision in Chuck's side. I was suppose to make the incision in his left side, but as you can see, I made it on his other left, my left. There may be ritual significance to doing it on the left, but I imagine it was a practical decision on the Ancient Egyptians part. Our bodies are very much analogous to rats (which is why they are used as test subjects for drugs, etc.), so it would just be easier to remove the organs from the left.
Unfortunately, I did not realize my error until after I sewed him back up. Oh well, right and left was never my best subject.
Again, thanks to the scalpel, getting through the layers of tissue was easy. The ribcage is clearly visible in this picture. I had to gently cut through the tissue adhered to the ribcage and pull it back before I could visualize his organs.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that in addition to one's body, the mummy would need certain organs to live in the Underworld: the liver, stomach, intestines, and lungs. The heart remained in the body so it could be weighed to see if the deceased was worthy of admittance into the Underworld.
In the next picture, you can see the intestines. Directly above them in the abdominal cavity are the liver, stomach. After some gently pulling and judicious cutting, I was able to remove all three organs.
During the procedure I frequently referenced a drawing of rat anatomy. It had been 25 years since my anatomy class, so my biggest fear was that I wouldn't recognize the organs. Chuck's insides were actually very straightforward and easily recognizable. My next challenge was removing the lungs, while leaving the heart inside. First I had to cut through the ribcage and spread it before I could even see the lungs. The right lung was huge and deformed, which indicates severe lung disease. Most pet rats have a bacterium called Mycoplasma pulmonis that makes them prone to respiratory infections.
As you can see from this picture the right lung is significantly bigger than the left. Now that I had all his organs out, I cleaned out the rest of the unwanted organs including the kidneys, then washed Chuck and his parts in wine. The Ancient Egyptians used palm wine, but I had to settle for a nice Sauvignon blanc. Here's a picture of the lungs, stomach, liver and intestines before I buried them in natron salt.
Tomorrow I'll finish up the embalming process and give you a preview of the cool stuff I will eventually bury Chuck and his organs in.