Wednesday March 18, 2015

Re-creating movie scenes with dead mice: 6th grader on taxidermy hobby

12-year-old Mackenzie McCarty stuffs dead mice, then she re-creates movie scenes with them.

12-year-old Mackenzie McCarty stuffs dead mice, then she re-creates movie scenes with them. (Mackenzie McCarty)

Listen 6:08

Many 12-year-olds would list spending time with animals among their hobbies. But probably not like Mackenzie McCarty.The grade six student from Philadelphia finds dead rodents at the side of the road, or buys them frozen from a pet shop. Then she stuffs them, dresses them, and places them in pastoral scenes.

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Mackenzie McCarty. (Mackenzie McCarty)

“They’re kind of like pets, but they’re dead,” Mackenzie tells As It Happens host Carol Off. She says she first took a course in taxidermy when she was nine years old, and now spends two or three evenings a week working with small rodents such as mice and squirrels, building tiny furniture and sewing clothes for them.

Among her creations is a dancing scene from the movie Grease -- which she gave as a gift to one of her schoolteachers. She’s also made one of the characters from The Walking Dead, using a squirrel.

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A St. Patrick's day theme. (Mackenzie McCarty)

She describes the process of stuffing the animals calmly, with tools like “my little brain scooper.” She stuffs the mice with cotton, she adds. And clarifies that she's "strictly no-kill," meaning she only uses animals that are already dead. 

Mackenzie concedes that, as a hobby, it’s not much of a social activity. “A lot of my friends get grossed out,” she says.

However, she adds she plans to go to taxidermy school and someday turn pro. “My dream animal would be to do a giraffe.”