Using Dermestid Beetles for Skull Cleaning

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Dermestid beetles provide the highest quality results when it comes to skull cleaning.

At Skull Cleaning NY we use dermestid beetles to clean the remains of flesh and tissue off of the various types of animal skulls we receive. Dermestid beetles feed on dry animal matter including the skin of animals.

The tiny beetles start out as a larva and go through several stages of growth before becoming a beetle. Both the beetles and larva will feed on any part of the skull that’s not bone. Their tiny size allows them to get into areas with delicate bone structure that you would never be able to clean otherwise – this is especially true in the nasal passage of animals like deer, bear and fox. This is just one of the advantages of having dermestid beetles do the skull cleaning for the specimen you’d like to put on display.

Compared to other methods like boiling skulls, which causes fat to leach deep into the bone and the bone itself to shrink, beetles do not cause any damage or shrinkage to the specimen. Animals such as bears are scored by taking length and width measurements of the skull. Skulls must go through a 60-day drying period before being scored and will naturally shrink, but boiling will cause excessive shrinkage and decrease the score of your trophy. Beetle cleaning is safest way to get your trophy preserved.

While the beetles can clean a skull relatively fast – a whitetail skull can be cleaned within a weeks time – the overall process is much more involved. After the beetles complete the skull cleaning it’s off to the degreasing tank where fat is removed from the skull. This is the most essential part of the process and can take several weeks or months, but ensures the finished product will stay white for years to come. If this process is skipped, yellowish grease spots will eventually make their way to the surface of the skull. Once the skull is fully degreased it can be whitened or camo dipped.

It can be a long process to clean a skull properly, but the end result is something any hunter would be proud to display in their trophy room.