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Best Way To Clean Skulls In A Small Living Space?

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Juniper98, Dec 6, 2020.

  1. Juniper98

    Juniper98 New Member

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    Very new to this so excuse me if I miss something obvious or something.
    But I've been wanting to start cleaning skulls mostly as a hobby for collection purposes. But what is the best way to go about it? I live in a pretty small apartment and not super keen on having a beetle colony or a bucket of rotting flesh laying around all the time lol. Don't have an outdoor area to keep this stuff either. Is "cooking" them my only possible option? Or are there different methods? Any tips are appreciated!
     
  2. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    You might consider another hobby until you have adequate workspace. Simmering is not a good option, beetles and maceration will create bad odors.
     

  3. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    I have a 75 gallon aquarium tank with beetles in it inside my house. I use a 4” inline fan that goes into a charcoal filter that can be purchased on Amazon. It filters most of the smell and I’ve put in pretty nasty smelling skulls and the only time I smell them is when I open the cover. Smell really isn’t a problem. It can be done. My intake is the same size as the exhaust so no smell ever gets out. Also I had it set up prior to getting the filter by putting a piece of plywood in my window with a 4” hole cut in it, venting the stink outside.
    There is really no way to macerate in your situation. It stinks!!
    I’d recommend starting a small beetle colony to see how it goes. I’ve added pictures of both ways I’ve had it set up. I started with a 15 gal aquarium.
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    Sorry about the first pic. Having a lot of issues with this website
     
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  5. Juniper98

    Juniper98 New Member

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    hey thats a pretty good idea! my main concern with beetles was the smell, but if theres a way around that I’ll definitely look into it some more. Is it possible to do a colony with 5 gallon buckets or a 10 gal fish tank as a starter?
     
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  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    There is a smell but if you clean and prep your specimens properly it isn't too bad. There is more to keeping them and you need to do some reading. things to consider are .. do you live with someone? If so, cleaning skulls indoors may not be for you. Macerating is an absolute no. Beetles need more care than chucking them into a container and having them go to work. I have a 10 gallon tank set up with them in the house but they still need care and monitoring. Simmering them usually ends up as "cooking" them which damages them. In addition to making the process of finishing them more difficult.
     
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  7. Juniper98

    Juniper98 New Member

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    Thank you! A lot of great points.
    I've been doing some research on how to care for them but didn't want to go all in before knowing if its a possibility. And I don't mind doing the extra work that goes into caring for them.
    I do live with my boyfriend though, brought the idea up to him and doesn't mind so far. My main concern is smell. Do you happen to have pictures of your setup? I'd love to see. If I go though with it I'm hoping to use a 10 gallon tank as well.

    But for now I'll carry on with looking up information about them!
     
  8. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

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    slow cook until you can peel meat off bones... dont boil...degrease in dawn with a 40-60 watt light bulb in metal coffee can with “pot” on top... rinse and whiten with oxy clean... no smell no mess
     
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  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    No photos but just a simple 10 gallon tank. A custom fit top made out of tight fitting real copper screening that they can not get through. A 2 inch wide band of smeared Vaseline around the inside top to keep the adventurous ones from climbing out. A goose-neck type lamp above it with a small ceramic heat emitter aimed into the tank. Shredded newspaper in the bottom and Styrofoam chunks for them to tunnel into. Water is provided either by food or, if I have nothing, I will put some cricket jell in a jar lid in the bottom. If it gets too dry, I will mist with water but that is rarely. Temp is controlled by either covering the top with cardboard to hold heat in or remove some of it to cool off the interior as well as moving the heat emitter further back from the enclosure.
    I only do very small specimens and birds with beetles. Everything else is macerated.
     
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  10. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    My setup was a 15 gallon tank, custom plywood top with an intake and exhaust hole that I vented out the window with a 4” inline fan. I made a custom plywood insert for the window and sealed it very well with foam tape. Held the window closed with L-brackets. It was a double hung window. Screen and pantyhose on all openings to keep other bugs out. Metal tape over the silicone that hold the corners of the aquarium together so they can’t climb out. Wired a receptacle into the cover for a 25 watt ceramic reptile heating element. no water, styrofoam, pine shavings for bedding. This is very doable and you sound like me when I started big you have the desire and ambition you should go for it!! I’m so glad I did. I e moved to the bigger tank and made $360 this year letting the beetles clean other peoples skulls. Now would be a good time to start the project so your colony is large enough when the trappers start selling raw skulls in the mew year. I got some from Alaska to start. A couple marten, a fox, and a lynx. It gives you an idea of how to properly prep a skull. i say go for it!! You’ll be happy you did. If you need beetles let me know. I’ll give you a good deal!
     
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  11. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    I actually started with a fan from a wood stove that blew into the tank but then went to the in-line exhaust fan that sucked the air out. Also for warmth I remember now that I started with a cfl light bulb. Here’s some pics of my 15(tall) aquarium setup.
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. Juniper98

    Juniper98 New Member

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    Wow thank you for all the great advice!! Will definitely use this as reference for setting up. Also will be interested in the beetles! I’ll send you a PM sometime soon after I get everything together.
     
  13. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I’m sorry , there is No way your going to tell me there is No smell or odor . It may not be terrible but I guarantee there is something. It’s like people that own cats that don’t clean the litter box every day , there house stinks but they just can’t smell it as there use to the smell. Yet when others come in , it hits them in the face .
     
  14. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    Hav
    Have you tried a charcoal filter like the one in my pictures? There is a small bit of odor but if it’s vented out a window it is zero. The filter does an amazing job so I decided that would work for me because there is no window in my utility room. The key to keeping it odor free is a ventilation system that keeps negative pressure through the tank. Positive pressure blows odor out through the cracks instead of sucking air in. I can say the only time I smelled it when I had it ventilated out a window is when I opened the cover and I’m very sensitive to smells. What does smell is when I put a skull in my heated bucket to degrease.
     
  15. fadetoblack72

    fadetoblack72 Member

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    I’ll pm you my phone number for if you want beetles. I only sign in here every so often so that would work best.