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Gina
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« on: September 03, 2006, 11:02:25 AM »

So I threw a skull in a vat of water, and let it simmer for about 2 hours.  ther was very little left on it to come off, but when I used the tongs to pull the skull from the water, all the olfactory bone fell out in a chunck, leaving the nose totally epty.  needless to say, I was a bit peeved.  i cnat put it back in, there too much flesh still on it.  So the question is:

Should i use dermistides next time, or boil the skull longer to prevent the meat from sticking to the olfactory bones and falling out?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2006, 09:55:27 AM by Ken Edwards » Logged

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fesekula
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2006, 11:21:56 AM »

Gina, To me the only way to go if you are going to be cleaning skulls in the future is with dermestid beetles. You have learned that boiling skulls just makes them fall apart. Not a very good job compaired to dermestid beetles. Here is a very good link to put you in the right direction.
http://www.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/mammals/dermestid.html
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Western Rivers
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2006, 11:31:39 AM »

Two hours is too long, did you use sal-soda?  I boil (simmer) mine for 45 min, pull out and remove whats easy then return every 10 min as nessary. Usually they are finished in an hour.   You have to remove as much meat, brain and eyeball's as possible before you boil..
Lee
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jrosbor
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2006, 12:37:22 PM »

I had this happen on a buffalo.  Just glue them back in.  As I remember, it is in two chunks.  Glue them together side by side and put a few dabs of glue on the back sides and on the bottom.  Make sure you let them dry all the way first and use a clear glue or epoxy. 

When I boil or simmer skulls, I never actually bring it to a full boil.  I only cook them for about 15 minutes at a time and pull them out and clean them up as best that I can.  If they need it, I cook them longer.  I also give my customers the option to have the nasal bones left in or removed.
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Joe
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2006, 01:01:23 PM »

If you have a power washer you can cut most of the meat off with it, then you can simmer in in soda ash for 1/2 hour . I would think 2 hours is a bit long.
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Gina
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2006, 01:50:01 PM »

Well, I would glue them if I could, but there was so much sticky meat on it, I just threw it out, it is not a customers skull but one of mine, so no big deal, But thanks!  I am going to try those tips next time I get one in.....maybe I should get a few raw skulls to practice on!   ;)
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Timber wolf
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2006, 11:52:44 AM »

Here is a website with all the information that you need about skull cleaning. I have tried all of them and prefer the maceration method.    http://www.hidetanning.net/SkullCleaning.html
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M35
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2006, 01:28:23 PM »

Maceration, imo, is the way to go to. The only downfall is the limited time-frame to operate, June-August. The hotter, the faster..

Beetles is something else I have to care for. Maintain good temps, feed regularly, exterminate "escapees", ect..

They both have their good/ bad  points. To each their own..

Boiling.. well, I can't say I've had much luck w/ anything smaller than a coyote. Thin boned creatures.. otter, mink, muskrat, fox, ect, just did not hold up and the quality was thrown out w/ the funk-water. Just too destructive..
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2006, 08:04:13 PM »

If you're boiling and leaving it more than an hour on a small to medium skull you're going to ruin it. Bugs and beetles are ok, I've not used dermestids, but I've let mother nautre's bugs clean and they do a great job, I just hate getting maggot carcasses outta nose bones. Maceration is the best, easiest to me. 

M35 you can macerate year round, all you need is an aquarium heater that keeps the water 80-85 degrees and it's just like summertime even at 40 below outside. I clean the majority of my skulls in the winter, for some reason the smell is less during that time (probably not, just my nose is too cold to smell!) and the bugs that congregate around are practially nil.  Once they are done macerating (2-6 weeks) and I've gotten all the teeth out and in order I use my propane fish fryer to boil them in water/dawn soap for about 10 mins to get the muck off, then degrease and peroxide.

Wolfie
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Wolf
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2006, 11:29:46 PM »

Memorial day weekend ended up being 3 days of boiling for me... and in the Texas heat no less... Ba Humbug!!! 

I simmered for about 30 minutes at a time, 2-3 skulls in one pot depending on the size.  After 30 minutes the loose meat got scrapped off and the skull was then dunked into a vat of cool water to soak while another set went on to be simmered.  After 30 minutes swap out the simmering skull with the one soaking in cool water, it will take about 15-20 minutes and you get a perfectly meat free skull.  If you have time on your side and don't mind waiting, after the initial 30 minutes of simmering, soak the skull in cool water overnight, then just scrub of the remaining tissue in the morning; the damage to the skull by boiling is reduced this way.

No need for sal soda, soda can break down the bone's exterior if your not careful.  A bit of dawn in the simmering water will break up grease even on bears and boars and set you up for a quick degreasing process.  If you cut the meat off the skull before you start, the process goes faster.  When I'm lazy I'll boil the whole head as is and the muscles pull clean and free of the bone in big chunks and you don't have to scrap at little bits as it cooks down but it takes a bit longer.

The nasal area... a blast of water from the hose (or sink if you work inside) will wash out the tissue in the delicate bone.  Rinse it from the front but also from the opening at the back of the palate in the skull to get the nasal clean.  A needle sharp, straight probe will come in handy breaking up and pulling out the thick cartilage in the center of the nasal.

Other methods... maceration as WolfWoman pointed out can be done with a aquarium heater in the winter.  Cover the bin to hold in the heat.  Small specimens can be macerated in a crockpot on low too.  A can of cheap beer will increase the activity of the bacteria... something about the yeast I think.  A handfull of raw earth (dirt) will also add additional bacteria to the water and help.  The higher the heat, the more the bacteria will be active, the faster the process.  Maceration at 100 degrees takes 3-5 days on a longhorn steer with no meat removed (I have watched it) while at 40 degrees on a meat free raccoon will take 4 months.

If your only doing one or two skulls, setting up a dermestid colony can be a chore, the above methods work better.  If the skull is something rare or special and your worried about damaging it, send it out to someone with beetles, and make sure they are reliable.  I have had to reclean skulls for 6 different people that used "somebody in town" that had dermestids.  The skulls were damaged, not degreased proper, and still had cartilage and tissue remaining.  If you do a number of skulls, look up and study dermestids on the web and buy a starter kit.  Know that a handful of beetles an turn into 1,000s very quickly.  I have 6 different colonies, and have to kill them off as I don't have enough work to keep them busy right now, but they continue to reproduce even with a lack of food.

There are a handful of other ways to clean skulls too.  It all depends on the type of skull, the age of the skull, the condition of the skull and what the final product you wish to achieve with the skull, as to which method works best.  Trail and error is a good way to learn, keep up the good work Gina and better luck with the nasal on the next skull.

Wolf
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M35
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2006, 07:02:34 AM »

Quote
an aquarium heater that keeps the water 80-85 degrees and it's just like summertime even at 40 below outside.
Thanks for the tip. I went that route 3 years ago. The problem I experienced was the tank I was using was inside..LOL Naturally to say, my wife was not very pleased w/ my experiment, eventhough I was operating in my shed, technically "outside"..

June-August works just fine for me.. Plus it keeps momma happy.. & if momma's happy, everyones happy..LOL..
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joeym
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2006, 07:59:54 AM »

Gina:

Another solution to your problem would be to remove the olfactory bones from another cleaned skull and glue them in.  I save skulls I have sawed the antlers off and feed these skulls to feed my beetles.  They are good spare parts suppliers (especially for teeth).  You can successfully clean a skull by simmering.  Get a "spare parts" skull, and simmer it very slowly.  You just want to see a little heat coming off the water.  I have let skulls stay in this for hours on end.  Check every 30 min or so.  Take a water hose and spray out nasal passages.  At the right time, the membranes will slough right out and you will have an intact olfactory process in the skull.  I would let the skull dry a day or so, and then cut it in half with a band saw...starting at the tip of the nose and following the centerline all the way to the base of the skull.  Then you can remove the olfactory process from each half.  You can also learn a lot about skull anatomy when you to this!
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buckeyebullet23
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 08:09:06 AM »

I tell ya, I'm not an expert beetle rancher, but they are so easy to maintain and do such a good job of cleaning skulls, I will never be without them. I throw them in a big plastic tub with a lid with some of my tumbling sawdust, some dry meat scraps, and a paper towel that i dampen every other day or so. Apparently i'm doing something right cuz they're multiplying rapidly. Good luck.
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2006, 06:17:08 PM »

Quote
an aquarium heater that keeps the water 80-85 degrees and it's just like summertime even at 40 below outside.
Thanks for the tip. I went that route 3 years ago. The problem I experienced was the tank I was using was inside..LOL Naturally to say, my wife was not very pleased w/ my experiment, eventhough I was operating in my shed, technically "outside"..

June-August works just fine for me.. Plus it keeps momma happy.. & if momma's happy, everyones happy..LOL..

Well how about this, when I first started doin it, it was in an apartment, in the upstairs 2nd bedroom...needless to say I left th window open!! However, something I found that alleviates quite a bit of the smell but still maceratces quite nicely... change out 3/4 of the water about once a week. You're still leaving enough bacteria and yukkies in there to do the job, but it really does cut down on the smell. Hubby wouldn't go near that room, but with the door shut, window open and a fan going, it worked great!  :P

Now, not to pick on you or anything, but others have often made that comment about 'momma' being happy, to me, there's just something fundamentally wrong with a relationship when one or the other person has to bow down or cater to the other person's wishes. My folks weren't like that either, so it this just a complete 'funny' that I hear all the time, or is there a sense of seriousness in it too?

Wolfie
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