Animal skulls should be cleaned and prepared before they are used for display or study. To remove flesh and other substances from the skull, you need a tub, cotton balls or pine shavings, cardboard, and dermestid beetles.
- Gather materials and supplies
Get a starter colony of dermestid beetles. These flesh-eating bugs are fairly easy to contain because they don't fly in temperatures below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes several weeks before your colony is ready for the deer skull. Prepare a bed of cotton or pine shavings; never use cedar shavings. Place the animal skull and beetles together on a piece of cardboard onto the bedding. The cardboard prevents the cotton from sticking to the skull. Place a cardboard box over the skull to provide cover for the beetles.
- Clean the skull
It can take the dermestid beetles 12 to 18 hours to clean the skull, sometimes longer. Keep the skull slightly damp by occasionally misting it. Remove the skull from the beetle bed area and brush off the bugs. Don't worry if you don't get them all at once; they eventually fall off.
- Soak the skull
Use a designated pot to boil and soak the skull outside. The process is smelly and stinks up a home if done inside. Boil the water. Reduce the heat and place your skull in the pot, covering it with a lid. Remove the excess flesh and substances with a bottle brush. Rinse under running water to remove small particles, and allow the skull to dry.
- Whiten the skull
Place the soaked, clean skull in an empty tub, and fill the tub with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Do not soak for more than 48 hours. Once this process is complete, your deer skull is clean and ready to display.