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Stinky Painted Deer Skull

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by er2671, May 13, 2022.

  1. er2671

    er2671 New Member

    Hi all, I'm new here and figured you guys would be the best place I could ask about a deer skull I bought that has a stink to it. I actually bought two of them, but the other was already missing its nasal bones where the source of the stink is originating from the more-complete one (as well as from the brain case). It isn't too bad unless you are directly whiffing from one of the holes, but I want to hang them in a small room and am worried it will eventually stink the whole area out.

    The problem is that the skull is already painted, and I am worried using any of the tougher stuff like bleach or ammonia will damage the paint job. I figure no matter what I do, it's going to be tough for anything to reach all those sinus cavities to de-stink it. Do you guys have any tips on how to solve this? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    It should not have been painted until it was clean. The rotting tissue you smell is going to also attract insects. Probably boiled to clean it which leaves a lot of dead material inside. The only way you are going to get rid of the stink is to properly clean out the decomposing flesh and probably brain material that is inside. As it is already rotting, submerge the skull in warm water and leave it for a couple of weeks. The water needs to be kept warm this whole time. A good fish tank heater turned up all the way will work. After you have rotted out the remaining tissue, slosh it around good in some hot water to try and dislodge anything remaining inside. Then submerge the skull in a bucket of hydrogen peroxide. It probably will foam up quite a bit. The more foam, the more crap is stuck inside. Let it sit at least 24 hours in peroxide. Doing so is going to allow the peroxide to dissolve a good bit of anything left stuck in there. It will also do quite a bit to sterilize all the nooks and crannies inside. Pull it out, submerge it again in hot water to rinse off and break down any remaining peroxide and let it dry.This is skipping the step of degreasing it which probably wasn't done either. If the skull is also greasy, as the grease makes its way to the surface, it will bubble up the paint and discolor it anyway after a while.

    Your other, easy solution would be to just hang it outside. The odor is going to attract insects and you don't want it inside anyway.

  3. er2671

    er2671 New Member

    Thank you very much for your response! Bummer about the paint, was hoping to keep it as I'm not artistic enough for a repaint, and it was Native-made (not sure which, the lady I bought it from said they bought it at a pre-covid art show, so the skulls themselves are not antique or anything, just a few years old).

    Good news is I do already have an old tank heater in the shed and hydrogen peroxide on hand. I'd like to take the easy way and leave it outside, but our weather will likely ruin it. I'll also be keeping an eye on the other skull for bubbling paint. Guess I should've asked why the skulls had been displayed in their open shed rather than their enclosed house before purchasing, haha! Thanks again, really appreciated your help.
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Take good reference photos of them before you soak them. You would be surprised what you can copy. Unless they are somehow signed somewhere with a known signature and/or a tag saying it was "Native Made" you might want to take that with a grain of salt. Bought at a show, no references .. could indicate that anyone could have made it. A lot of Native Made artsy articles are tagged as such. The tribe members making them are proud of their work and want people to know who did it. Many tribes have their own tag design that they use too. Put a large piece of plain white paper under your other skull. Watch and see if you see any signs of little black bits or brown casings appearing on the paper. Indicators that the skull is already inhabited and, if they are dermestid beetles, you do NOT want them in your house.
  5. er2671

    er2671 New Member

    Okay, thank you once again! I did keep them in a sealed bag for ~2 weeks, and the only things that made an appearance were two weevils(not dermestids) and a cellar spider. That doesn't mean dermestid beetles couldn't have shown up since though, so I will do just that and keep an eye on it while the other one cleans. Thanks again, you have been beyond helpful.