How to Deflesh an Animal Skeleton

Written by eric benac
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How to Deflesh an Animal Skeleton
Defleshing leaves a clean skeletal structure. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Defleshing an animal will give you its meat-free skeleton which you can then display anyway you want to display it. Removing the flesh is a long process that will require a lot of preparation and a long wait. The meat will literally rot off of the bones during this process so make sure you perform this process in a rural area around as few people as possible. Get permission from neighbours before performing this process. Make sure your carcase is protected during the process to avoid animal interference. Check with your local laws to make sure defleshing is legal in your area.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Skinning knife
  • Scalpel with spare blades
  • Probe
  • Syringe
  • Plastic garbage bag
  • Large metal container with lid
  • Cement block
  • Screw driver
  • Maggots or insect eggs
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • A few gallons of disinfectant
  • Kitchen knife

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  1. 1

    Use your skinning knife to remove the skin from your animal. Use the scalpel to remove delicate parts such as the eyes, cheek muscles, tongue and brain. Push a probe through the skull into the top of the head and weaken the brain. Suck out the brain with a syringe.

  2. 2

    Cut out as many layers of muscle as possible with your knife. Stop cutting the muscles when they don't peel off easily with your knife. Remove the harder-to-rot internal organs, such as the heart, lungs and bladder. Throw these away in a sealed plastic bag. Store your animal corpse in a freezer until it is summer.

  3. 3

    Fill a large metal container about one-eighth of the way up with water. Put your container somewhere elevated so that animals cannot disturb it. Place your animal corpse in the container, seal the lid and place a large cement block on top to avoid disturbance. Break small holes in the top of the container to allow air and insects to enter.

  4. 4

    Place your maggots or insect eggs inside the container. The maggots will break down the dead flesh of the animal while leaving the bones intact. Use beetles to obtain the best results.

  5. 5

    Check your corpse regularly to see how it is progressing. Continue to add water to help the maggots decompose. Add new insect larvae if your maggots mature and become insects.

  6. 6

    Drain the water into your bucket and dump it into a sealed garbage bag when your skeleton is ready. Pour your disinfectant into the container and let it drain out into a sealed plastic bag.

  7. 7

    Put on rubber gloves and carefully remove the skeleton. Clean it with water to remove any maggots or loosely hanging flesh. Use a dull kitchen knife to remove more stubborn pieces of flesh.

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