If you have any interest at all in taxidermy, you’re about to learn something pretty cool. If you’re here for sheer morbid curiosity, you will not be disappointed. When it comes to preparing animal remains, the best way to clean a skull is with taxidermy beetles. These are actual, living bugs that clean the bone without harming it. Beetle colonies are raised by experts in the field in order to supply taxidermists with the resources they need to do high-quality work.

Why Are Bugs Used to Clean Skulls? 

First off, taxidermy beetles are not just any old bugs. They come from a highly specialized family of beetles that can be used to clean animal skulls. The dermestid beetles clean the skulls without damaging them because they specifically eat animal flesh. They meticulously remove the flesh from the bone without using any external corrosive fluids or bioproducts.

The beetles offer advantages over other cleaning methods because they don’t use powerful chemical reagents or heat in order to ensure that the skull is clean and hazard-free. Non-beetle methods involve various forms of bleaching and/or boiling. These methods are harsh and can damage the skull in the process. The most pristine taxidermy work has to rely on the beetles because they are so good.

How Difficult Is It to Maintain a Colony?

In general, the colony is easy to handle. Taxidermy beetles are non-invasive, harmless to humans and require little attention. They need a substrate (an inch of shredded paper is fine) and a container. Plastic totes are great because they struggle to climb out.

Add a screened lid to make sure they get air and keep the temperature between 65 and 80. If you’re maintaining the colony between skull cleanings, feed them meat scraps to sustain them. Make sure they get water once a week which you can do by spraying a paper towel with water and dropping it to the bottom of the container.

Do the Beetles Smell?

Taxidermy beetles do produce a unique smell, and it does stick to fabrics and clothing. Interestingly, people are split on whether or not they like the aroma. It’s the cilantro of taxidermy. If you don’t mind the smell, there is nothing to worry about. If you do mind it, you can mitigate the problem by closing off the room where the beetles work, especially when they are cleaning brain matter.

That concludes what you need to know about taxidermy bugs. Your burning questions have been answered, and you know just a little bit more about the wider world around you.

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