How long does it take flesh-eating dermestid beetles to clean a deer skull? This time-lapse video shows you the answer.
European-styled skull mounts have taken off in popularity here in North America in recent years. And why not? They're cheaper than a shoulder mount and also take up less wall space while still preserving the memory of the hunt for years to come. Have you ever wondered how these deer mounts are made?
Most folks do it with a long slow boil, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a pressure washer. If you've ever tried this process yourself, you know what a pain in the butt it can be. It can take hours or even days to remove all the flesh still clinging to the bone.
However, some taxidermists producing the popular skinless mounts start with dermestid beetles. These little guys eat away any flesh and other soft tissue left after the taxidermist removes the skin, eyes, brains, and any excess flesh.
In little over a day, the beetles completely strip the leftover flesh off the bone. They also get in all those nooks and crannies that a human simply cannot reach. This video from Dakota Skulls shows one of their beetle colonies making short work of a customer's deer head. That's a heck of a lot easier than scraping and pressure washing it all off by hand!
After the bugs are done, a quick wash, followed by some careful application of a bleaching agent to even out the color, and the skull is ready to finish and mount.
If you're interested in keeping a colony of dermestids to clean skulls and bones, you can order them online.
There are other DIY skull cleaning methods involving boiling, burying, or pressure washing skulls.
But, you have to admit, those beetles are pretty efficient. They sure earn their keep.