Beetle use in Africa for EURO MOUNTS

Discussion in 'Taxidermy' started by BRICKBURN, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    So, with all the complaints about over boiling skulls can someone tell me about anyone who might be using Beetles to clean skulls.

    I know in some places they throw the skulls in the dirt of on ant piles or whatever.

    I mean as an ongoing method of cleaning skulls properly.
    It would avoid all the damage from boiling.
    They work well on dried material apparently.




    Anyone?
     

  2. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I've not actually performed the work or in this case bought the beetles to do it, but I've had it done. My last elk that I took in 2010 was not one I wanted to put more taxidermy dollars into as I'd just returned from my first trip to Africa. So I found this guy that is local to Phoenix: http://www.westernskulls.com/

    It worked very well and he took my skull with eyes, brain, tongue, skin and whatever other soft tissure was still attached.

    It should work on African animals too, but I see one problem. The Dermestid beetles that are used for this may not naturally occur in Africa. If they don't, you're now introducing a foreign insect and that frequently brings problems.
     

  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Good point Phil.

    A couple of sources about where they live from the usual sources:

    "Dermestes maculatus is a species of beetle with a worldwide distribution, being present on all continents except Antarctica. In Europe, it is present in all countries."

    "Dermestes maculatus has spread around the world in tropical and temperate environments. Its original habitat is unknown. They can be found near carcasses or in bird nests in the wild, but have also made themselves at home in human habitations. They are decomposers that feed primarily on dead animals. Predators include birds, lizards and mammals that feed off of decomposing carcasses and also relish the protein-rich dermestids. "

    Dermestes maculatus De Geer
    hide beetle
    dermeste des peaux

    Diagnosis: Among the Dermestes dealt with here, this species is distinctive in having the apical margin of each elytron serrate and the apex spiniform. Other- wise, it is quite similar to D. frischii.

    Sexual dimorphism: Males have a tuft of setae on the middle of the fourth visible abdominal sternum. Females have no such tuft of setae.

    Distribution: Cosmopolitan. In Canada the species ranges from Quebec west to British Columbia.

    Economic importance: In Canada this species has been reported in warehouses, where the adults and larvae were probably feeding on the remains of insects. The species is known to feed on all kinds of animal materials, and in the tropics it causes extensive damage to marketed dried fish. In the United Kingdom D. maculatus is one of the most common beetles in droppings in poultry houses (Armitage 1986). As for the other Dermestes discussed here, the damage caused by this beetle is intensified by the fact that full-grown larvae, when they pupate, bore into solid materials on which they cannot feed, such as cork, timber, lead, and vegetable fibers. According to Aitken (1975) this species is the most com- mon Dermestes on cargo ships carrying imported goods to Britain.



    It does look like they are everywhere.

    So, maybe someone has a colony and may start to use these critters for better Euro skull results.


    Anyone doing it?
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015

  4. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    When I was a kid we would clean the skulls as best we could and put them in the sun to dry out. When the rains started the Siafu (Safari Ants) would start migrating and we would place the skulls in their path and they would clean all the dried tissue off and out of the skull within an hour.

    Skulls Unlimited are some of the first that I am aware of in using beetles. They have probably been doing it for 20-30 years. If you are ever in the Oklahoma City area they are a neat place to visit.

    http://www.skullsunlimited.com/

    It would be nice if a taxidermy in Southern Africa would do this in lieu of boiling. I am like many others here who are sick of the boiled product we are getting from Africa.

    If there are any taxidermists in southern Africa reading this post, beetles may be a great business model to differentiate your service and provide a superior product.

    Great subject Brickburn!
     

  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Maybe I am nuts for giving this idea away. I should go set up shop. :ROFLMAO:

    Can you imagine:
    It cuts down on the work at the Outfitter's end and the customer gets the best product possible.
    No more complaints about over boiling.
     
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  6. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    It would seem a pretty easy deal to do, the bugs do all the work. But those times when you don't have the bug food being provided by hunters, what do you then? A chicken from the grocery store would probably go a long way I guess.
     

  7. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    That fella does seem to know his stuff.
     

  9. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I am sure that a taxidermist could come up with something.
     

  10. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Time lapse: Flesh Eating Beetles vs Whitetail Skull

     

  11. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I would pay a premium to use you.

    Quality control on boiling small skulls seems almost nonexistent. It seems like taxidermists throw a jackal, ratel and genet skull in with a wildebeest and kudu. When the wildebeest and kudu are done they take them all out.

    Think of the neat skulls like porcupine and vervet monkey you could bring back if they weren't over boiled and falling apart.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2015

  12. Jody

    Jody AH Veteran

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    I'm No beetle expert but I have learned a few things over the years about them.
    Here are just a couple examples of some of the skulls I've done for myself. I'm guessing I've done around 200 total by now. The bugs are good but a lot of commitment is involved. Housing them is the biggest problem especially where it gets cold. Temperatures and humidity have to be regulated. Food is never an issue, no meat? Give them dog food. I know guys that order bug kits in deer season after they shoot a buck only to find out it takes thousands and thousands of the little critters to work their Magic. And creating a good size colony takes a lot of time. Anybody that cares about their mounts would not want to have these guys anywhere near their trophy room. They will eat the hides right off the forms if they get out.
    Boiling should never happen with a skull. If this technique is used the water should never reach boiling. This bakes the oil into the bone. The water should stay at a simmer like making soup. And the horns should never be in the water either.
    I've found that letting skulls macerate in warm water works best. Bacteria will destroy even what the bugs won't.
    If anyone has any questions I can further explain , don't want to bore anyone talking about bugs
    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
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  13. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Hmm, that's an idea. From what I can tell here in the U.S., taxidermists sub out the tanning process. Why not sub out the skull cleaning process? Once the skull has been skinned, I'd think it quick work for the bugs to take care of the brain, eyes, etc left behind.
     

  14. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I have seen the results from bird skulls and mouse and rats skulls.
    You could never boil them or put them in water and get anything useful after the fact.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015

  15. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    For cross boarder transport do we have to show the process has disinfected as well? Or, is mere flesh removal adequate? Not sure about the import regs, but I am thinking about the concern with CWD and brining deer skulls into Ontario.
     

  16. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Beetle cleaned skulls still need to be degreased and whitend after the beetles are done with it. All excess flesh, eyes and tongue should be removed before putting it in with the beetle colony.
     

  17. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    There is no border every going to be crossed without disinfection. Certainly not from Africa.

    I would just like the disinfected skull to still be in one piece and that is what the bugs can do.
     

  18. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    My mistake, I was equating the boiling with the disinfection process. I appreciate now that the boiling is not a necessary process for disinfection purposes.
     

  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Peroxide and other nasty chemicals for that process.
     

  20. Silence

    Silence AH Enthusiast

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    I do all skulls on my own.
    Everything smaller than fox I do with beetles.

    1. Remove all fur/skin, eyes, tongue and bigger flesh pieces
    2. Put it into a can and in your garden (not directly on the ground, you may loose small parts)
    3. Wait
    4. Wait
    5. When all flesh is eaten up, I boil it for the first cleaning with some washing soda for about 20 min
    6. Put it in H2O2 (12% is enough) for one night
    7. Ready!
     
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