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Pig Skull Question

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Althea, May 22, 2020 at 3:56 PM.

  1. Althea

    Althea New Member

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    Hello there, I'm new to the forum and to this "cleaning skulls thing"
    The first one I did was a cat's skull. Don't worry, I didn't kill the poor thing, I found it already dead and pretty much mummified in a room in the stable where I kept my horse, who knows how long it's been there and how it ended up in there! But since it was already basically all clean all I had to do was finish cleaning it, whitening it and mouthing it, and I love the result!
    IMG_1154.jpg

    So then I wanted to try something else. A client of mine told me she processed pigs each week and I could have the head if I wanted to and of course I agreed! I looked it up online and all the places I checked said maceration in cold water was the best option (I didn't have a place to put a colony of dermestid beetles, and I wanted to preserve the delicate structures of the nose cavities) and so I went for it. I bought a big enough bucket, filled it with water and placed in a spot where nothing would get it. This happened in July last year, then I got sick, been hospitalized, and I havent been able to check on the skull until a couple days ago. They all said it would take one or two months for the skull to come out clean of the maceration, so, after so many months, I though I would find just a puddle of rotten flash and cleaned bones, but... that was't the case. At all.
    This is what I found: IMG_5190.JPG IMG_5186.JPG

    The second picture (where it looks more clean) is because I stripped off the flash myself. Some came right off, some was still so stuck it was impossible to take it off. As for the teeth, some came of pretty easily, others just don't want to move at all!
    So now my question is: what should I do? I was thinking of putting it in a cage and leave it out for the flies to attack and eat what's left of the flash. Would it work? Otherwise I've read it's an option to put in in a bucket with some water, cover it with a plastic bag and the flies should go in, lay their eggs and the maggots should do their job. But will it work on that old flash? Will the maggots eat it? I need them to clean up the nerve holes, the teeth cavities, the inside of the skull, all places I can't reach by hand...
    Plus, once that's done, how should I degrease it? Because a lot of corpse wax formed...
     
  2. This is the result one would expect with cold water maceration. Now try it correctly by heating the water.
     

  3. SeanSr30

    SeanSr30 Member

    Proper maceration would have it clean clean in 2 weeks tops. U need heaters in the water. I run mine at 90 degrees. I also heat my degreasing tanks up as well I just use dawn dish soap as the maceration process seems to remove a lot of the grease anyways
     
  4. Althea

    Althea New Member

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    Sadly I don’t have access to power where I’m doing this, so there is no way to heat the water, but when I started the process it was full summer, at it goes well over 40C here in summer, I thought that would be more than enough, but looks like it wasn’t the case...
     
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    There is no such thing as cold water maceration. That is a lazy term for folks that can't be bothered doing it the right way. Unfortunately people post this info online and others read it. Possibly no power but can you run an extension cord? You need to heat the water to get this to work. Especially now that you have preserved the rest of the flesh by allowing lactic acid to build up in the tissue by soaking it in cold water. Either that, move it to a different location where you do have access to power. Even at 40C .. the water in your container never got to even close to that. It has to be heated to a constant 26 to 32C. You can try the closed container with some holes to allow flies in. That is a pretty dense skull and the maggots won't hurt it if they are attracted to it. If it isn't really rank stinking, flies might not go for it so toss in something stinky to attract them. Don't add a lot of water. Your other option would be to try and simmer it but this would be difficult without all the materials you need to do it .. including a container to put it in that you wouldn't want to use for much of anything afterwards. I assume the brain is also still in this so things just got a lot more complicated with the cold water soak.
     
  6. Althea

    Althea New Member

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    The brain was still in yeas, but when I checked last time the skull looked empty in the inside, not clean of course, but not full of brain either... About the power cord, that's be impossible, the bucket is like in the middle of nowhere, far away from any house so the smell won't atttaract any complaints from anyone...
    I think I'll go for the maggots and see if that works, hopefully it will, in any case seems like the only possible option for me...
     
  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    At some point, you will still need access to power. That skull will be soaked with grease and bacteria even after the maggots get to it. You are going to have to soak it in a heated detergent solution for months to get it clean and to get the corpse wax off of it. At the worst, simmer it in a large pot or other metal container with detergent/soap and soak it in peroxide to kill off any final bacteria and odors. Any container can be covered to reduce or eliminate odor. There will be a brief release of stink when you open the container to check on it but it soon dissipates and when you pour out and bury the liquid inside the container there is no smell left at all.