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dermestid beetles

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So i was wondering if any of you keep dermestid beetles, and If you do, how so? I'm looking at them for cleaning small animal skulls and bones. I've been reading a lot on them. Would really like some input from some keepers. Thanks alot :)

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I keep a group of larder beetles I prefer since they usually do not fly. The common black cleaners are a bit more uncontrollable. They all eat dog food but for breeding, chicken jerky, pig ears, etc. are good to get the eggs laid.

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Thanks for the reply. I seem to read alot of issuses with finding clean stock. Have you ever used your larders to clean bone?

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I keep dermestids for this purpose, and have done so for a few years. I don't have a lot of experience but have learned a few things along the way.

I use a smoothish-walled container, some sort of blue rubbermaid bin in the 18-gallon range. I have witnessed larvae crawling up the sides though, I wish now that I had gotten a bin with even smoother sides. I don't seem to have a problem with them escaping, however. I have some sections cut out with window screen glued over it. More ventilation is definitely better. The last thing you want is any humidity building up, that'll make things smell very badly, very quickly, and could attract mites, phorid flies, blowflies, or house flies, while simultaneously repelling any other human beings in the vicinity (could be good or bad...your choice!). I keep mine on about 8" of shredded aspen bedding, the same stuff used for rabbits etc. This is nice and light, providing lots of surface area for the beetles, and absorbs excess moisture.

The only problem I have ever had as far as keeping them under control was one summer when I lived in a finished attic in a house with no AC. The temperature in my room was regularly in the 30°C range, even at night. At this temperature, if the beetles are not well fed they do have a tendency to fly. The container I kept mine in at the time was an unmodified sterilite bin that I kept with the lid cracked for ventilation. One day I came home after a particularly hot day, and apparently after not keeping a good enough eye on their food levels for a few days, and found hundreds of adults in the room. It was a nightmare to try and get them all over the next couple weeks. The escaped ones apparently started breeding, because months later I was finding larvae here and there all over the place. If you don't let them get this warm (they can apparently only fly in relatively warm temperatures), if you keep them well fed, and if you keep them in a tight-lidded container, you shouldn't have a problem. I now keep mine in the basement to avoid such incidents, but ventilation is even more paramount to prevent high humidity. The culture grows much more slowly like this, but it's easier to manage them this way. It's also easier to keep an eye on the skeletons they work on, since it'll take longer for them to actually start doing them damage.

I hope this helps. I have found them generally easy and undemanding, and they occasionally reward me with a nice little skull to add to my collection.

-Eric

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