Utilizing flesh-eating beetles to clean bones and skulls has been an accepted practice by taxidermists and museums for years. The common term for these types of beetles is dermestid beetles. Dermestid beetles exist in nature and may be found feeding on the flesh of the dead animals. Beetles will clean a skull completely even into the smallest nasal passages and canals without damage to the bones themselves.
There are over 500 beetles found worldwide that fall into this category. Museums commonly utilize beetle cleaning for bones and skeletons to ensure all tissue is removed and ones are not damaged. Given optimal breeding and feeding conditions, dermestid beetle colonies can reproduce and grow infinitely!
Using beetles for a European skull mounting sounds simple in that that beetles do most of the work. Given time, the beetles will eat all tissue on the skull including the hide and the brains, however, proper preparation helps to expedite the process. A healthy dermestid beetle colony can clean a properly prepped large bear or deer skull in less than a day and can handle a bigger game like moose or elk skulls in a few days.
Dermestid beetle skull cleaning offers a great option for trophy skulls that are to be scored, as there is no water in the cleaning process that can potentially cause the bone so that the scoring is completed prior to the degreasing process. Once scored, or after the beetles finish with the skull, we degrease, whiten, and finish the skull to pass our own quality assurance examination.
Learn more about our full European mounting process here!