We offer Skull Cleaning, European, Horn & Antler Mounts .
Please visit our show room or give us a call for more information and pricing.
Skull Cleaning, European Mounts, Horn Mounts
BEFORE CLEANING DURING CLEANING
AFTER CLEANING, BLEACHING, AND SEALING
WHY DO WE USE DERMESTID BEETLES?
The typical method of boiling skulls is messy, smelly, costly and can damage delicate bone structures such as nasal membranes, not to mention it can stain & shrink the bone/skull! Therefore, All of these problems can be avoided by using these easy to maintain Dermestid Beetles. Dermestids, or flesh-eating beetles (family Dermestidae) are used by universities, museums, and taxidermists to prepare skulls and other bones for display.
THINKING ABOUT D.I.Y (Doing It Yourself) EUROPEAN SKULLS?
SOME THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TAKE IT ON....
A Few hundred beetles will take several months to clean 1 skull. You will need several THOUSAND to get the job done quickly. Also, you will need a special container. They are sneaky little buggers and will eat their way out or crawl out of most containers and eat things they shouldn't. We use a custom-made Plexiglas box with a tight- fitting screen lid. Below are some examples of containers to Use and NOT to Use.
DO NOT USE:
· A Wood Container
· Anything they can chew through
· Anything too Air tight, You need circulation
Do the Beetles have an Odor?
The beetles themselves have little to no odor; however the materials inside the container with the beetles can be a bit offensive. So YES, your project will stink before it is complete. It is a unique odor and can even stick to your clothing just by being in the same room with them for a short time.
Here are some simple steps to reduce the odor:
· Even though the brain tissue is great for the beetles and will cause a tremendous growth spurt in the colony, this can be the No. 1 cause of the odors. So if odor is an issue, then the brain tissue should be removed.
· If using too few beetles to attempt a large cleaning job, they may not be able to consume the flesh before it begins to rot and this can cause an odor.
· Keeping the frass and the colony dry will also minimize odor, which is next to impossible as you will learn after you read the next section about their need for humidity.
Habitat for your Beetles?
· These beetles are high maintenance and need a certain habitat to thrive. Line the bottom of the container with about 1” of cotton batting, cardboard shredded paper, commercial mammal bedding found at pet stores or wood shavings (Not Cedar), to give the larvae a burrowable substrate in which to pupate and to wick away any spilled water to help avoid fungal growth. They also like Styrofoam so you can throw a few chunks of that in too.
· Place small bowls of water within the container to raise the humidity and as a source of water for the beetles. Place additional cotton or poly fill batting or cotton balls in each bowl to keep the beetles from drowning.
· The bugs like:
Warm (65-85 degrees, but will fly at temps over 80), To heat the cage use a reptile heating pad under the container or a non-light ceramic reptile cage heat fixture.
Moist (50-60% humidity) To raise the humidity, cover the colony with paper towels and moisten daily (a spray bottle works well for this). CAUTION: Too much moisture may result in the emergence of mites, which can destroy the entire colony. If mites appear, increase ventilation. If you catch it in time, you may be able to salvage the colony.
Darkness – Beetles work best in and prefer darkness
For extra protection, place a perimeter ring of borax around the colony to help contain them. The borax scratches the beetles’ exoskeleton, and they quickly die.
It all begins when the adults lay eggs. The eggs hatch either in meat, or close to it, after just 3 days.
· These hatchlings are called larvae and go through approximately 7-9 molts within 30 days.
· The larvae then become pupae and they burrow holes in the substrate to pupate (7-8 days).
· They hatch as adults and thus begin the cycle all over again. The average Adult lives approximately 5 months.
The Process of Skeletonizing
First, remove the skin, organs, and as much muscle as you can from the specimen.
· Before a carcass is put into the colony, it should be frozen for 72 hours to prevent other insects from infecting the colony.
· When a carcass is placed with the colony, you must monitor it closely. The first thing that the beetles eat is the flesh. But, if left with the colony too long, the beetles will continue on to the hair, nails, hoofs, horns, and cartilage which can destroy your specimen and the skeleton will come out as individual bones which can make it difficult to reassemble.
· Once a carcass has been given to a large colony, it usually takes about a week to be skeletonized if the colony is active. The activity level of your colony is determined by how much food they have been receiving. The more food, the more active the colony will be.
· When the bugs' work is complete, re-freeze the carcass to prevent any beetles from escaping and eating something else. Then soak the skeleton in either soapy water or in ammonia water to retard mold. Then air or sun dry thoroughly.
You can go through the expense and trouble of getting all of this set up to do your own skull OR you can can just let us do it for you. By the time you get a small colony set up, you will wish you had just brought your skull to us. We have several years of experience with a large colony and we are prepared to take on the job. Give us a call for a quote on your European Skulls today.
Lasting Impressions Taxidermy
6841 4th St. NW * Los Ranchos * NM * 87107