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Need To Start Beetling...

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by e101011, Jun 3, 2021.

  1. e101011

    e101011 Member

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    So, a few weeks back I bought a couple of skulls from a user on here. I was expecting cleaned and ready-to-display specimens. They arrived very quickly, but I’m in the middle of a move and just put the package aside without opening it. Well, turns out that they were raw skulls. My fault, I probably shouldn’t have presumed.
    Should be noted that I myself don’t have a sense of smell (not Covid, but the result an incident years ago), but after some questions and complaints I opened the box and... I’m wondering if these are salvageable. I put the package in a hermetically sealed baf and in a freezer immediately but maybe it’s too little too late?
    From what I can tell the bones are intact but the tissue is rancid and decomposing.
    I’d never planned to have to clean my own skulls but I’m willing to give it a try. I know burying them and letting nature run its course is an option but might not be the best look as the only space I’d have to do that is behind my funeral home in a fairly residential area. The specimens aren’t valuable enough for me to take to a professional even if one did exist in the Washington DC area, yet I don’t want to just trash them. So, the reasonable thing, I suppose, is to do it myself.
    I’ve read some how-to things online, but none that I’ve seen mention how far-gone the tissue can be before even dermestid beetles are put off by it. Also, everything I’ve read said the beetles have a smell of their own so I’m wondering how much of a problem that might be on the balcony of a condo in the city. Really have no idea what to do with the beetles when they’re done either. I suppose that if the process is easy enough and my neighbors don’t complain I could do more in the future, but I’m just an amateur collector that wouldn’t have the volume to keep them thriving. Being vegan, I don’t keep many meat scraps on-hand.
    So, I’m looking for some guidance from anyone who can identify with this comedy of errors and/or offer some practical solutions for cleaning skulls in an urban area as well as finding purpose for beetles afterwards. Feel free to mock my stupidity in the process! :)
     
  2. maceration is the best bet. i am confident the skulls will be o k.
     
    big dan likes this.

  3. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    I agree, maceration would work best. But that’s also going to have a smell. Might be too much for a condo in the city in my opinion. An other option would be to clean in a flower pot if the skulls are small enough. Layer of dirt on bottom of pot, surround skull with saw dust or shavings, then bury with soil. Add some red worms and keep it moist. Can even have flowers, lol. It will take a lot longer than maceration, but will have zero smell. There will be some odor when you eventually unbury it but more like a wet dog rather than rancid maceration water. You will have more corpse wax to clean off before you degrease but it works.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
  4. e101011

    e101011 Member

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    Yeah, I don’t think that maceration is a good option for me but I’ll try the flower pot scenario. Do you have a ballpark thought on how long it takes? Are we talking weeks or months? For reference, it’s a bobcat and a ringtail, so nothing big.
     
  5. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    I haven't done one that small so not sure exactly how long, but I would give it a couple months just to be sure its done. Get most of the meat off first. Buddy of mine did a sheep skull and it was pretty much done in 4 months. Of course that's here in Texas where its a little warmer. I don't think you can over do it though, so if odor is your concern, I would definitely give it plenty of time. Of course you are still going to have cleaning to do after you get it out.
     
  6. And you need to be prepared to sift the dirt when you think it is done so you can recover the teeth that will fall out when the soft tissue is gone.
     
  7. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Beetles are not an option for you. ARUsher's advice is probably best for your situation.
     
  8. e101011

    e101011 Member

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    Seems that way... at least my girlfriend can choose the flowers!
    Thank you, everyone, for your guidance.
     
  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Your skulls are already rotting so just macerate them. Bone and teeth will not decompose so the skulls you wanted are fine. Do it properly and what smell there is will be short lived. It will take a week, less than 2, with skulls that small and the process is already started. You have to provide a heat source so that may be an issue for you. For this one off project you can use a submersible aquarium fish tank heater of the correct wattage. If your condo has an outside balcony, place it out there. The bucket will be covered and any real smell will be temporary when you open it. If you try the flowerpot way to rot it all off, do it outside as well ... on your own balcony. Taking skulls and burying them on someone elses property without their permission is not cool. Can also lead to police investigations and other unwanted attention, funeral home or not. You have friends with homes, ask them to clean these on their property instead.

    When you buy skulls, always ask if the description is not 100% clear. This site is a great source of suppliers for skulls and they will be cheap, but they will also be in a raw state. The cleaning, all done by you, is what adds a lot of value to a skull.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
    e101011 and joeym like this.
  10. e101011

    e101011 Member

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    To clarify, the funeral home is mine too, just a thought of “what will the neighbors think?”...
    I do have a balcony and running a heater from it is not a problem.
     
  11. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Neighbors would probably never know. But, being what the business is, that sort of activity outside the building would attract unwanted questions and inquiries.
     
  12. e101011

    e101011 Member

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    F5619FBE-E77E-4791-8409-2A84EACACE98.jpeg
    Need a higher fence...