Most hunters have prized trophies they want to give the full taxidermy treatment and preserve. For other game, skull cleaning and creating a skull mount provides another option for creating a stunning mount. The process to create a skull mount is not that difficult when using the best method, which is using dermestid beetles.


A skull mount is created when all the flesh is removed and the skull is whitened. The skull can be mounted or left in its natural state for display. There are several processes you may encounter for producing a skull mount. Let’s take a look at these and why they are not the best method to use.


Soaking the skull in water will help soften the flesh for removal. The process can take days or weeks. During this time, the water can start to smell foul. Algae and bacteria can also form and be an issue that stains and weakens the bone.


When we talk about boiling, we are not talking about a simmering boil. If you hard boil the skull, the skull bones can separate and come apart. Simmering the flesh renders the fat and causes the meat to easily fall off the bone. Yet, this process can weaken the bone structure and turn the bones a greasy yellow color.

Power Washing

Another method used to clean flesh from game skulls is to use a power washer. You do need to soak or boil the skull first and remove as much flesh as possible. Power washing is better than using tools to scrape any remaining flesh from the bone, which can leave gouges and scrapes. However, if the pressure of the water is too much, it can damage the skull, so you do need to be careful.


This method is where you bury the skull in the ground and wait for nature to take its course. The problem with this method is it can take several months or years before all the flesh is removed from the skull. During the time in the ground, the bone can also degrade and get damaged.


Harsh chemicals can be used to remove flesh from a skull. Yet, these chemicals can be dangerous to work with. If you mix the wrong combination, it could set off a chemical reaction. The fumes can be toxic to breathe. Not to mention, the chemicals can also degrade the bone and create fractures in the skull.

Why Dermestid Beetles Are the Best Skull Cleaning Method

This species of beetles only consume dead flesh. They are widely used outside of taxidermy by museums, anthropologists, forensic scientists, and other fields where bones need to be cleaned and preserved.

The beetles eat away the flesh from all areas of the skull, even the deepest recesses, without having to use any other cleaning methods, tools, or chemicals. For example, other processes can destroy the delicate nasal bone structures, which damage the skull mount.

Dermestid beetles leave the nasal bone structures intact and free of any flesh. There are also no unpleasant smells, harsh chemicals to worry about, or other potential causes of damage or discoloration.

Dermestid Beetles Are the Best Skull Cleaning Method

It is easy to obtain dermestid beetles directly from us at Kodiak Bones & Bugs Taxidermy. If you don’t want to raise your own beetle colony, you can also take advantage of our taxidermy skull cleaning service by shipping us your skull.

To order your beetles or learn more about our skull cleaning service, please feel free to contact us at (907) 942-2847 today!