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Dermestids and Fun Times

Discussion in 'Invertebrates General' started by CentriRitanni, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    Spoiler alert: dermestid beetles are carion beetles--also known as flesh eating beetles--read on at your own risk.

    I know a few of you are interested in them (just a few, haha), so I figured I'd start a thread (for pictures when I have a working camera and general info).

    Fun fact: just finished cleaning a deer skull for a friend and did a container transfer, and man I wish I had a camera, because the hunger march is quite neat to watch. Picture an angry mob moving in on their target (beetles of all different stages), honed in on the exact position. It's great. :D
  2. Wolfbandit

    Wolfbandit Elite Member

    I can't wait to see pictures!

    Dumb question here: Will they munch on you if you stick your hand in there, or is it only 'dead' flesh? And, if so, how on earth do you clean out their container?
  3. Mulder

    Mulder Well-Known Member

    Ooooooh dermestids are fun! We did a final project with them in Biology to see which of several diets would best sustain a colony when carrion was scarce. We did dry dog kibble, F/T pinkies, and commercial beef jerky, each of which was recommended by several keepers over the internet. I really wanted to get them from the University when we were done, but our prof decided he wanted them. Unfortunately, he's since killed the entire colony off. I'd like to start a colony of my own, but I'm holding off until I have a better idea of what the next year or so will bring.
  4. justor

    justor Elite Member

    How long do they take to clean off a deer skull?
  5. TJOHNSON722

    TJOHNSON722 Elite Member

    This seems very interesting. I may have to do a Google search.
  6. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    @Wolfbandit: They only eat dead, dry flesh. Unfortunately that means that if they get loose in your house, watch out for your leather.

    @Mulder: The best diet is chicken breast either jerked with a home food drier or left in the sun covered by a net for a few days.

    @justor: depends on how many you have... With my current colony, about a week (brain and eyes in). It depends how much flesh you leave on, too. I like to leave it whole, while a lot of people prefer removing as much flesh as possible first. This skull took nine days.
  7. gapeachkatie

    gapeachkatie Elite Member

    I am so intrigued by those beetles, and yet cringing at the thought of them being loose in the house...

    Someone local to me has a work shop where he does skeleton preservation for a living and he has at least 15 colonies, cleans at least 50 deer/cow/horse heads a month. If he has a slow month, we see him cruising around picking up road kill to feed his beetles.
  8. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    Yep. I get the cheapest meat I can find at the grocery store. Have also gotten scraps at a butcher shop. Done roadkill once or twice. It's really easy to prevent then from getting loose.
  9. Jkbauer13

    Jkbauer13 Elite Member

    I can't wait to see some pictures :)
  10. Mulder

    Mulder Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that's what we found. Based on food consumption, number of larvae that pupated, and number of new beetles hatched, the jerky did the best. I'm pretty sure we starved the group on dog kibble, but the ones fed on pinkies did okay. When you get scraps from the butcher, do you treat it like you do your chicken?
  11. TJOHNSON722

    TJOHNSON722 Elite Member

    Yeah.... While these are highly interesting, I don't think I could ever keep them. Don't like bugs.....
  12. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    Yes. Everything has to be dried or you will see massive die offs. People claim the dog food thing works, but it's bs. Bill Jack (or whatever it's called) the refridgerated dog food might work, but kibble is predominantly grain... They don't eat grain, so yeah, they'll die. In a pinch, I've used fish food, which works pretty well. They also love dead dubias. :D I have a plethora of those! Moisture is the enemy. I mist them lightly every 3-5 days, but I aim the bottle at the sides of the enclosure (helps with any smell and to keep you from going overboard).

    @T: You never really have to touch them, so it's more like owning a fish than bugs (in my opinion). I try not to touch them so as to avoid accidentally tracking any inside. In fact, I have a checklist method to ensure that doesn't happen. So far so good.
  13. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I'd love to get some dermestids - I could dispose of dead cockroaches, hunting remains, roadkill, etc. I like to keep and collect bones for arts and crafty things. Wanting to try my hand at some scrimshaw here soon, and have some antlers, but I think it would look just as nice on bone...

    Can't wait for pictures!

    Where on earth does someone get Dermestid beetles?
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Jen just do a search for dermestid beetles. I found this site as well as a few others.
  15. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    That is definitely one option, but a much cheaper option is to read over a lot of keeping information (dermestids for dummies isn't bad, except it does talk about dog food, which as I said, is a no no). I got my first set and three supplementary sets from a guy on ebay (I'll get his username and post it shortly). He sells at a good price, and definitely includes several extra (around 1100 in a 1000+ set), and he feeds them just before shipping so they are alive on arrival. I also greatly appreciate that he puts them in a tub surounded by newspaper inside the shipping box. If you want dermestids and have done your research, he's the guy to get them from (in my opinion).

    His username is showmewhitetails45. To give you an idea, I got a 1000+ set from him for $25. The site Merlin posted for a start kit is $67.50. Now the kit is more than just the beetles, but personally I prefer to research and save the money. It does not take $40 to set up for beetles...
  16. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    Ran out of time on the edit, but I will add:

    That starter kit only comes with 250+. I did a LOT of research (especially on pricing) before buying. Feel free to ask if you need some information. :)
  17. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I think reading is the next step anyways, lol. Been thinking about doing this for a while, but didn't think they'd be "available" to me. Good to know! My family does a lot of hunting, and I usually take bones from each carcass, and have been going through the tedious and sometimes painstaking process of boiling and cleaning the bones. There is enough roadkill in the area to keep them fed, and I'm sure they could have rats my snakes don't eat, if prepared properly. Not to mention dead roaches...

    Any recommended literature?
  18. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    Do you have access to journal articles? If not, then look for breeders sites.

    Dermestid Colony - This site is okay, what it doesn't tell you is tha: 1) dermestids can't climb slick surfaces (like Sterlite tubs); 2) some adult dermestids fly; and 3) you only need an enclosure as large as the specimen you want to prepare. I also wouldn't use plexiglass because they much prefer the darkness.

    That's a start. I'm going to see if my laptop is functional in the next couple of hours, and if so, I'll find you some articles or at least better resources.
  19. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Dermestes maculatus seems to be the most frequently kept beetle for this purpose - and they have a worldwide presence, so I won't have to panic if one or two should escape, which is something I am hoping to avoid.

    As to container, sounds a lot like my roaches - can't climb slick surfaces, and prefer darkness - easy enough to manage. dark/opaque rubbermaid and some packing tape (since the dark ones are usually frosted texture, rather than smooth.)
  20. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    I would recommend Sterlite over Rubbermaid. Sterlite has a smooth interior unlike the Rubbermaid, and it's cheaper to boot. My laptop is functional (yay!) so I'll find some more internet sources for you. Do you have access to journal databases? If so, there are much better resources.

    Kodiak Bones and Bugs Taxidermy This is a pretty good resource. Covers most of the basics.

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