There are several reasons to clean and preserve an animal's skull. From amazing pieces of decoration to support teaching about animals and facts such as age, habits and even how the animal died – all this can be discovered by analyzing the skull. First of all, you will have to clean it completely. Fortunately, there is more than one technique for cleaning and preserving an animal's skull; read on to find out how!
Part 1 of 2: Removing the Meat
Step 1. Take precautions to avoid zoonoses
Animals can transmit many diseases to humans, such as rabies; they are called zoonoses and can remain active and transmissible even after the animal's death. It is of paramount importance to beware of such illnesses.
- Wear gloves and wash your hands, arms and any part of the body that comes in contact with the animal's carcass very well.
- It is highly recommended to wear a surgical mask during the skin removal process.
Step 2. Macerate the skull
Maceration is the technique of removing flesh from both the inside and outside of the skull by submerging it in water with an enzymatic laundry soap. There are several methods of doing this.
- Cold water maceration takes time. The skull should be soaked in water at room temperature with a little soap for washing clothes specifically for cold water. These products have enzymes that break down organic matter and this is the safest method of cleaning the skull while leaving it intact. It can take days and even weeks to complete the process, depending on the size of the skull.
- Hot water maceration consists of leaving the skull submerged in boiling water – without boiling – with an enzymatic detergent. You can use the stove to do this; the important thing is to pay attention to the skull, as leaving it too long or boiling it can cause the fat present to penetrate the bone and this will damage it.
- Another way to remove the skin from the bone is to leave it on an anthill, taking care that other animals don't take it away – using a cage is a good idea. The ants will clean any and all of the flesh but leave the structure intact.
Step 3. Get rid of the fat
Remove it by soaking the skull for a few days in a mixture of water and a little degreasing dish detergent. This part is important, as the grease will start to give off an unpleasant smell and accumulate dirt on the surface.
- Wear latex gloves to handle the raw material.
- Change the water daily or whenever it becomes cloudy.
- If after a full day the water remains clean, this step will no longer be necessary.
Step 4. Dry the skull
It is important that it dries completely before the whitening step. Ideally, let it dry outside for a few days.
Leave it on a towel and a few sheets of paper towels. In addition, it is important that he stay indoors, so as not to attract other animals or insects
Part 2 of 2: Clearing the Skull
Step 1. Soak it in hydrogen peroxide
Put the skull in a basin and cover it with water; add about 290 to 450 ml of hydrogen peroxide 35 volume for every 5 liters of water.
- Do not use chlorine bleach as they will damage bone and teeth.
- The skull's natural color is yellowish white, but after bleaching it will turn completely white.
- Leave it in water for at least 24 hours.
Step 2. Reposition the teeth in their respective cavities
Methods involving water to clean the skull cause the teeth to soften and fall out; keep them to replace them with instant glue later.
Step 3. Use cotton swabs for carnivorous animal teeth
Most skulls used for preservation are from carnivorous animals, which have canine teeth and these teeth are usually smaller than the cavity in which they are located.
Glue small pieces of cotton, wrap them around the teeth and insert them into the cavities
Step 4. Dry the skull
Allow it to dry in the open air and in sunlight for 24 hours, until the glue sets. Don't worry about animals and insects as, at this stage, the skull will be completely free of organic matter.
Step 5. Treat the skull with polyurethane
Spray several coats of polyurethane, always letting them dry completely before applying the next coat. This will make his surface shiny and even.