Anyone tried dermested beetles.

Shrek

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I have a freezer full of deer heads I plan to european mount. I keep toying with the idea of starting a colony of beetles to clean them myself but have not pulled the trigger. Does anyone have some knowlege they could share. Not many taxidermist use them so that makes me worry. Boiling loosens the bones and they turn yellow with age if you boil them.
 

mtmiller

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I have a local guy with a colony. I let him keep the capes and he does it for free. Works well.
 

trevore

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How many skulls do you have to do? It may not be cost effective. You'll spend right at a grand for an established colony capable of cleaning a skull in a timely manner. Which would be 2-3 days. Smaller colonies work but at a much slower pace which present problems. Smell becomes an issue the longer a colony takes. You also have greater chances for infestations with maggots and other types of beetles that can find their way into a colony. Both of which can destroy your dermestids. You also have to worry about mites and mold/fungus. When it takes a colony too long to clean a skull you have to keep it moist enough for the larvae to eat the flesh. Too much moisture for too long a time frame and you have more problems.

Your best best is to either macerate the skulls or "boil" them. Maceration will be the more gentle option.

The skulls yellow because of fat/grease in the bones. It's there regardless of process.

Or you could just send them to a taxidermist and let them handle the mess, its what we do.
 

broncoformudv

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I raised a small colony and they did work but like trevore mentioned were a pain and in the end they killed over.

Maceration is by far the easiest way to clean skulls that I have found and it looks just as good as the beetles do.

Get a container large enough to hold your skulls that you can put a lid on add a can of beer and fill it with water and drop your skull in it, put the lid on and come back in a month. Grab your skull out and wash it off with a hose and filter the water in case any teeth fell out.

Once all the tissue is off the skull soak your skull in a solution of water and dishwashing soap to degrease it. Keeping the water warm speeds this process up a lot! Some people use a fish tank heater and others put the bucket in a warm location like next to a heater vent or baseboard heater. Check it in a few weeks and refresh your water and soap mixture.

For bears it is easier if you do the water soap for 3-4 weeks then switch to coleman fuel for the same amount of time and keep doing that till there is no more fat and oil in the water and fuel.

Once degreased wash well glue or epoxy your teeth in and seal it up.

It takes time to do a good job but is worth it in the end. :)
 
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Shrek

Shrek

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I have twelve to fifteen skulls in freezers , not sure of exact count. Thinking beetles is still the way to go. Unless I shoot a monster I will add two or three more soon and some from friends.
 

BuckSnort

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I have done many Euro mounts..This stuff works great and is fast and cheap... After boiling with the Sal Soda rinse and dry then brush on some hair bleaching solution (found anywhere) let sit for two days then brush off remaining bleaching solution with a dry painters brush..

Just the Sal Soda alone works great as it removes the grease from the bones...

http://www.taxidermy.com/cat/15/skull.html
 

aggieland

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I own large production chicken houses and we have beetles that live in the houses. Its almost impossible to get rid of them they are called darling beetles, They have cleaned up every head I have put in their area including, bobcat heads, gar, opossum etc. If you know anyone with chicken houses, the kind of chickens you eat "broilers" than I believe they will do the job. And best of all they are free.
 

huntwest

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I have done the same as Bucksnort,but I will soak them in water with dawn dish soap to remove the grease from the bone. The grease in the bone is what causes them to yellow over time. Another product is sold by Cabelas, but made by I think Van dykes, it comes in a kit with everything to do about 3 deer.
 

trevore

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If you have that many and expect more go for it. I'm assuming you have the space to work. Jump on taxi.net and look in the skulls section and look up bug box or dermestids to get an idea for an enclosure. If you have some smaller skulls (bobcat, fox, coyote) start with a smaller colony and roll with it. You're really gonna have to stay on top of the humidity and temp once things start cooling off.

They do a great job, but trust me you're gonna have to stay on top of it. I had them for 4-5 years. Good luck
 

Mike7

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Bucksnort, thanks I've never heard of that. That sounds like a quicker and hopefully not too messy way for those of us with less patience.
 

BuckSnort

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Bucksnort, thanks I've never heard of that. That sounds like a quicker and hopefully not too messy way for those of us with less patience.

No problem... Keep in mind the boiling needs to be done outside, as one can imagine it can stink up a house real quick... I have a large steel pot dedicated for skull boiling.. I use a high output propane stove for the heat source..

Here's one I did with the method I mentioned above...

 
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