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Cleaning Bear Skulls

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  • Cleaning Bear Skulls

    What's your method, anyone have some quick easy tips?

  • #2
    I'd like to know too.....

    I have two sitting in my freezer that my wife is about to throw out! I had a guy tell me that putting them in a shrimp pot and leaving it set for about a week will do a great job. He said the sea lice get inside and clean out all the little cracks and crevices that are hard to get to. Might even get some shrimp out of the deal!

    The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


    • #3
      I got one in the freezer too...

      Most people boil them but I'm too paranoid about over cooking and having the skull come apart on me.

      There's a guy in Anchorage that uses the beetles to clean skulls and I'm trying to run him down. When I get the particulars I'll post back.

      Found a guy in Arkansas that uses the beetles and charges $50.00 + $10.00 return postage. I have his name, address, and email if anyones interested. Was going to use him until the guy in Anch. popped up on my radar.


      • #4
        home taxidermy

        shrimp pot may work if you have that as an option...
        beetles of the sea...

        there are lots of chemicals specifically designed to do what you need but I learned from an old taxidermist who taught me how to use house hold items..

        this worked for me...

        cut as much meat off as possible...
        dig out as much brain as possible...
        boil long enough to thoroughly "cook" meat but-
        not to long or bone softens and will allow teeth to fall out...

        cool and finish pulling meat and brain...

        Once satisfied with the "de-meating/braining" -
        soak skull in degreaser for a couple of days...
        I used gasoline - 3 gallons in a 5 gallon bucket.
        drop in skull cover and wait...

        then soak skull in bucket of water for a day or two to help remove
        gas... Burn used gas in neighbor's mower...

        Next soak skull for another couple of days in standard store bought hydrogen peroxide and bleach...

        I used a 5 parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part bleach... Too much bleach may yellow skull...

        finally, let dry for a couple of days and then coat the skull with a water'd down elmers glue... Can paint it on with brush but I found that wetting your hands and then smoothing the glue mixture gave it a real nice sheen.

        sort of involved but not complicated and most folks have the stuff around the house...

        Worked fine and it still looks great...


        • #5

          In the "What do you do for a living" post, there is someone who stated they have a beetle colony for cleaning skulls....I prefer this to boiling anyday.


          • #6
            Yes JDM!

            That's were I saw the guy advertising the beetle cleaning. I emailed him and am waiting for a reply. If he's anywhere close to the AR guy on costs I'm going beetle and not looking back.


            • #7
              beetles, boiling, and brains, oh my

              I would recommend the beetles as the best way to make sure the teeth don't fall out or the dentaries become separated. That being said, it is fairly safe to boil the skulls of older critters. There's also the option of 'maceration' which involves putting the skull in a water bath and letting bacteria slowly eat the meat. That works, but you can never really remove the smell. I've cleaned several skulls with all 3 methods, and boiling is by far the quickest and easiest.
              If you want to try the beetle method, contact the UA Museum mammal collection. They have a huge bone-cleaning operation (I used to work there) and they are willing to donate beetles to folks interested in cleaning their own stuff.
              Good luck.


              • #8
                Do it yourself

                You can purchase your own beetle colony and do it yourself:



                • #9
                  another option

                  there is a place in wasilla that can do it, but they only will if a taxidermist brings it in. why? i don't know.


                  • #10
                    could be a fun experiment....

                    Originally posted by BHAer
                    You can purchase your own beetle colony and do it yourself:

                    I'd like to try this myself. If anyone wants to go in on one of the big kits, let me know and maybe we can get a couple of guys together to get this started. I have two skulls and my father in law has many more can we come up with?

                    The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


                    • #11
                      2 More

                      Have Two, Willing To Talk...


                      • #12
                        I got one

                        I'd like to try the beetles if nothing else for the experience. A few things I read about the beetles is they have to stay pretty warm and they have a strong smell. If someone is willing to supply the heated garage/shed I'd be willing to chip in a little extra for the inconvience. Let me know... 12 June I would have had my skull exactly one year in the freezer.


                        • #13
                          Sodium carbonate

                          Boil your skulls with a sodium carbonate water mixture. It cuts the boiling time WAY DOWN. If you clean most of the major meat off and loosten up the brains, and take out the eyes, it takes no time at all to boil any skull down to very clean, and with no damage. You can order it from Van Dyke Taxidermy Supply. It is very cheap, and by far the best method I've used. After you get your skull cleaned ,rinse it with a hose, or the car wash, then soak it in a peroxide and water solution. For greasy skulls such as bears I degrease them in very hot water and heavy dawn dish soap. and then soak them in peroxide and water. Let them dry very well before sealing them. Hope it works as well for you as it has for me. Just make sure you use Sodium carbonate, and not sodium bi-carbonate.


                          • #14
                            What's the company (and phone number or email) in the valley that has beetles? I got a brown bear skull that needs done.


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