Britain’s youngest taxidermist? Meet the 12-year-old who shuns soft toys in favour of real-life stuffed animals
Meet the 12-year-old taxidermist who shares his bedroom with 75 stuffed animals and even keeps ROADKILL in his family’s freezer at home.
Archie Crawford, from Kidlington, Oxfordshire started his unusual hobby aged seven, after he found hedgehog bones under a porta cabin at his primary school.
After reading about taxidermy online, the curious youngster became fascinated with the craft and amassed a 75-strong collection of stuffed animals including a buzzard, a racoon, a marmot and even an armadillo.
Archie is not afraid to get his hands dirty and loves nothing more than working on animals himself.
He has stuffed squirrels, rats and mice and his creations take pride of place in his bedroom collection.
Archie said: “I am always on the lookout for roadkill to practice with and I love skeletons, fossils and skulls.”
“I think taxidermy is really cool and I am going to keep practicing until I am able to do it for my profession.
“My favourite pieces of taxidermy are the ones that look like they are alive, like my armadillo, which was a present. I would love to be able to create that one day.
“I love animals and nature, and I am really interested in creating my own pieces.
“Some people think it is an odd habit but most of my friends think it is interesting.”
Archie has even managed to convince his mum, Polly Branney, 47, to make some space in the family freezer for dead pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and moles which he is working on.
Polly, a GP, said: “I am delighted with Archie’s hobby. He loves the outdoors and it’s great that he has curiosity for nature.
“It’s not ideal keeping his animals in the freezer but I know how much it means to him.
Polly said: “It all started when Archie was seven and he found some bones at school. I was shocked when he brought them home but we cleaned them up and he researched them on the internet and found out they were hedgehog bones.
“Archie reassembled them onto a piece of card and his love of bones and structures began from there.”
Polly said: “Now Archie picks up roadkill. I remember the first animal he carried home with him was a dead fox which he spotted at when he was at school and he went and brought it home.
“I wasn’t hugely pleased at first but I helped him cut it up and left it in the garden to disintegrate and then I boiled up the bones so he could work on his first piece.
“At the minute we have a squirrel and a skinned rabbit in the freezer at home.”
Polly is thankfully not squeamish due to the nature of her job and now she doesn’t mind helping her son out with his usual hobby.
“I help Archie dissect up the bits and it is a bit grisly but it doesn’t phase either of us.
“I think taxidermy is really up and coming, especially in America where lots of people have their pets stuffed. I am proud of his hobby.”
Archie said: “I want to be a taxidermist when I am older and I already know that I need to study Art and Science in order to do it, so that’s my aim.”
Archie keeps his collection in his bedroom and that is where he practices his craft.
Archie said: “I am really dedicated to it and would love to expand my collection to some larger animals- my mum says that’s fine, as long as they can all fit in my room.”