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Maceration, beetles, degreasing, whiteining.

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by confed22, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    So I've been reading all the forums i can find, with info on the best methods for euro mounts. I've never done anything like this before, so I've just been trying to soak up as much info as i can. I've got a 20' x 12' shop I'm going to designate for doing taxidermy work. i think I'm going to try both maceration and beetles and decide what method works best for my schedule, since as we can all see this topic has a snow ball affect. i am wondering about the horns on on these animals. when you are decreasing what do you do to prevent the horns for being submerged in the solution besides the the obvious way of just keeping the horns from getting wet. i plan on making a big decreasing tank with a lid. but i see in all the euro mounts that the skull is white all the way to the base of the horns. so how can i make this happen? also what is the best temp for decreasing? also I've read if you macerate then the decreasing process isn't as long. could you not actually degrease as you macerate? i know its out there but if I'm asking these questions might as well go big or go home. what is the whitening process I'm lost on that. you all are very helpfull and i thank you for your help and knowledge.
  2. lizardguts

    lizardguts skull collector

    Hi there :) welcome to the forum

    Maceration and beetling take roughly the same amount of time, depending on the size of your colony and whether you are macerating in an insulated, heated container. Maceration does make the degreasing process easier - but no, you can't degrease as you do it because the chemicals will kill off your bacteria. After all the tissue is removed, you'll want to soak the skull in water heated around 110-120 degrees and mixed with Dawn dish soap and a bit of ammonia. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to half a year depending on the species and the individual skull itself. An alternative degreaser is unheated acetone.

    By horns do you mean actual horns or antlers? Because the horns (say from a goat) can be removed by sweating them off, then cleaned and added back to the skull after it's complete. The roots of antlers will have to be submerged. The whitening out of them is from the peroxide, nothing a little varnish can't fix.

    Whitening all you need to do is a soak in peroxide. The amount of time to soak depends on the dilution - the 3% sort will take a couple days, higher concentrations can take a couple hours.

  3. Xiahou

    Xiahou Rocky 6/1/05 - 6/5/08

    and make sure when touching up the base of the antlers to do it UPSIDE DOWN or you could get drips and runs onto the skull.
    Also masceration indoors yikes, never tried (I do mine outdoors and bugs in) that but its sure to be quite aeromatic.
  4. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    It's not really indoors. My shed is in the back yard. I've got to Install a sink and a table, along with insulate it. I'm going to add vent fans so it won't be as smelly. I'm working on two freezers for my beetles, and another freezer for the degreasing. I was thinking of putting a drain in the bottom, and one half way down so I can empty, or partially empty to get the grease out. I would fabricate screen baskets of various sizes to hang in the degreasing tank to catch teeth that fall out. So when I'm degreasing the antlers do not get submerged in the degreasing tank? Just drop them in the solution up to the base and just touch up with varnish.Horns as in cows the horn comes off the bone and you just glue it on later? Peroxide is easy enuf. I've whitened my teeth with that. Should have thought of that. Is it possible to leave the skulls In Peroxide to long? I've got a work schedule where I'm gone 14 days, and Home 7. I've also read that beetles will eat bone if it is left for to Long. Will they still eat if I have the skulls on a rack where they fall off after they have eaten, but still able to climb up to get to the meat? Or is it better to have the skulls on the bedding with the beetles. Thank you for the answers so quickly. I excited about getting everything going, but I don't want to half ass it.
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Antlers in the degreasing tank are ok. Nothing happens to them. Horns need to have the outer sheath removed and reattached later. I also would not use varnish on antlers. There are much better stains or even potassium permanganate. Peroxide is fine with bone for several days. If you think you may be leaving bone in it for a week or longer, use a weaker concentration. Even the 3% from the drugstore.
  6. CA Trapper

    CA Trapper Member

    Also think about separate containers for the skulls. Place the containers inside the degreasing tank. Like a double boiler set up.
  7. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    So when Im degreasing a white tail buck. I can totally submerged the head in the degreasing tank and nothing will happen to the antlers? I've also heard ppl talking about ants. Is that a practical way of cleaning. Probably easier to maintain, but harder to contain. For a double boiler. How could I set that up inside of a chest freezer? Would I have to have separate heaters? and what is the benefit of having double boiler? Thanks for taking your time to answer my questions.
  8. Try to keep antlers out of the water as much as possible. (Not always possible)
    Container inside a container like CA Trapper was saying (See picture below) Tip: Water level in bucket needs to be higher than the tub/Freezer.

    Heat will transfer from the exterior container water to the interior container water.

    Attached Files:

  9. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    that would make pouring grease out easier. thanks for the picture.i like that idea, will defiantly use this method
  10. Also - if you get something large in, you can leave out the buckets and create alot more room. (Bison, Longhorns) A drain is a must on a large tank/freezer. ;)
    Good luck.
  11. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    yeah I'm excited about the whole thing. I'm defiantly putting drains on everything. do you know anything about ants? i might try and get ahold of some and try it out on small birds.
  12. Ant stings/bites suck ! Stay with the beetles/maceration ALOT faster. ;D
  13. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    yeah good point. i was thinking that after they have cleaned the skull you could make it cool in the container and they would go into the sand/dirt and u could reach in there and get it out. still pain in the butt.
  14. antler staining is a must to learn, have learned to use acrylic paints. Have tried all the other types stains, the easiest to color match and control is the acrylic paints.
  15. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    so just find the color that matches the natural antler color and stain it. sounds easy enuff. thanks.
  16. X2
    And you'll need to blend colors to achieve the "right" color.
  17. confed22

    confed22 New Member

    okay. I'm planning on doing some full skeletons, how do you get all the bone Mearow out of the bones?
  18. CA Trapper

    CA Trapper Member

    Drill into the ends lengthwise