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Here’s an update from us at MAKE – pt

“We took down the photograph accompanying this blog entry. I agree that the image is startling, to say the least, and I understand why some people would be offended. Taxidermy is an ancient craft but contemporary concerns about using animals to make things are worthy of discussion. As someone who eats meat, wears leather, and uses rat traps to kill rats in my attic, I’m in no position to point my finger at anyone practicing taxidermy. We’ve kept the comments section open for this entry, and I encourage people to continue the conversation. I know this topic elicits strong emotions in some people, but please keep the comments civil and constructive. — Mark Frauenfelder editor-in-chief of MAKE

Maker Canida writes – “Be warned, this is another extremely graphic tutorial featuring guts, dismemberment, and soldering.”Link.

Related:

  • LED throwies – Link.
  • HOW-TO – Mouse taxidermy – Link.

A few folks sent in this DIY Taxidermy photo set – Link & this HOW-TO & lastly this DIY taxidermy class & insect mounting class at Paxton Gate in San Francisco (the store is amazing).

118 thoughts on “Updated: Taxidermy, rats, LEDs – and more…

  1. Sorry, but I find this rather sick. I know that Makers love to combine ideas and I also know that rats are generally considered vermin, but making a led throwie out of them is, IMHO, morally wrong.

    I saw the link on Instructables earlier and I was hoping it was not going to be the first picture I was going to see when visiting Makezine.com. Sadly I was wrong. To be completely honest, I had expected better from Makezine.

  2. oracle – well, it has magnets, and LEDs along with the same battery associated with LED throwies, so… i think that’s why the maker called it a “rat throwie”.

  3. I really hope you understand thi is not a Make, This is a deaply worrying sign that you have mental problems that need to be looked into.

    Piers

  4. @Piers: exactly!

    Before you know it, it’ll become a new ‘maker’ rage, challenging each other further and further to ‘mod’ animals and perhaps even kill them for it. As mvieke already mentions, throwie kittens and so on.

    This is tasteless.

  5. I agree, this doesn’t belong here. I’d like to see it removed. I love Make but am now thinking about ending my subsciption. . . Making and cuelty don’t mix.

  6. The rat used in the tutorial was already dead. Pretty much *any* future it had would be distinctly unpleasant. Digestion, decomposition, indefinite cryogenic stasis… or being turned into the Six-Million-Dollar Rat. (we can rebuild him, we have the technology)

    I reckon that last option sounds pretty sweet, actually. Where do I sign up? :D

  7. Wow, I think that is pretty awesome, weird, but awesome. I can’t understand all of the negative comments here, taxidermy is quite a common thing to do (the same thing happened to all the animals you see in a museum or in quite a few homes), so what makes this any worse or disgusting? Leds and a battery, is that turning point??

  8. Didn’t Survival Research Laboratories do something like this with cows or dogs or something back in the 80s? I say a solar cell that charges a cap to make the thing occasionally twitch would be good for pushing the comfort zone. That way the batteries don’t need to be changed. Except aintnowayinhell I’m going to gut a dead rat. My meat comes sliced and wrapped from the grocery store.

  9. Sick? Possibly

    Irresponsible? Reckon so.

    Funny? Yes

    Unique? Uh huh, but so is a bicycle made of turd.

    Now, if you had given it glowing eyes and a means to leap out at people triggered by a PIR, THAT would have been worthy of Make:

  10. Taxidermy might be quite a common thing to do, but IMHO there is a big difference if it’s done for scientific (inc. museum)/research purposes and in some homes compared to ‘modding’ the animal for fun.

    The former leave the animal’s appearance intact and show at least some respect for the animal’s dignity.

    Before we know it there are ‘Makers’ who say ‘my dog/cat/$pet is already dead so let’s turn the remains into a radio’.

  11. This is in horrible taste, as others have said here. It’s also despicable of you to encourage poeple to kill animals for fun. I had Make Magazine on my gift list for this year, but I’m taking it off now.
    The editor of the site should have known better.

  12. s*bufe (and everyone) – read the instructable, the links and what the MAKER says regarding this project. the rats, mice and other vermin were already dead.

  13. It might be true that according to this instructable the animals were already dead.. but sadly I also know that on this world there are too many people who don’t hesistate a second to drown cats or dogs.. let alone smaller creatures like rats.

    I fear that there simply are people who will think ‘I don’t have a dead animal around but I want to make my $pet throwie or other $dead_pet_project as well… so I better kill something’.

    So sorry, but I’d belong to the group who’d rather see modded pumpkins than animals..

  14. I’m going to have to agree with the commenters who find this one a little off-putting. While I am certainly willing to let this one slide before I go on a subscription-canceling rampage, I do want to make sure we don’t wind up getting into making glass-bottom goats or children’s Halloween costumes from the family dog.

  15. I’m going to have to agree with the commenter who find this one a little off-putting. While I am certainly willing to let this one slide before I go on a subscription-canceling rampage, I do want to make sure we don’t wind up getting into making glass-bottom goats or children’s Halloween costumes from the family dog.

  16. Phil, my fauxton flashlights use LEDs and the same batteries and I’ve been glueing magnets to them to hold them in places I need a spot of light since long before I’d heard of throwies. That doesn’t make them throwies.

  17. I thought MAKE was about more than this infantile sort of thing, but I’m proven wrong. This is why blogs will always be inferior to something with true editorial oversight.

    I personally don’t buy that these rats were “dead alread” is somehow a great excuse. Why did they die is the question, and the answer is probably because someone would pay for a dead rat for whatever purpose – feed, experiments, etc. The moral question is why are you paying money for the dead rat, which in turn makes it worth while for someone to kill and sell rats. If the reason for the purchase is morally justifiable, so be it, but a purchase for this sort of thing is absolutely beyond rational morality.

    As someone that once had rats and mice as pets, I feel they deserve more respect than this. People who show such little respect either generally show a disconnect that is pathological.

  18. There was a great comment on the instructable to this effect:

    The mouse, in its natural habitat, is either going to die screaming or from starvation. There are no old mice, only in the Disney movies.

    On the moral scale, this is waaay below filling up a car with blood oil, neglecting to vote, looking at porn, or any of the other things people do.

    Get over it, people.

  19. To all the people that are really upset by this project I suggest that a better use of your time would be to berate the people that regularly mistreat live animals. This project is basically a taxidermy exercise with a halloween twist on it. In poor taste? possibly, but an outrage? I just dont see it. I was more disturbed by the images of the halloween food made to look like body parts and organs and the thorax cake…sheesh. On a lighter note though I’m thinking that I might implant a tv remote in my dog when he passes and have him sit by my sofa… at least that way he’ll be more useful than he is now.

  20. To all the people that are really upset by this project I suggest that a better use of your time would be to berate the people that regularly mistreat live animals. This project is basically a taxidermy exercise with a halloween twist on it. In poor taste? possibly, but an outrage? I just dont see it. I was more disturbed by the images of the halloween food made to look like body parts and organs and the thorax cake…sheesh. On a lighter note though I’m thinking that I might implant a tv remote in my dog when he passes and have him sit by my sofa… at least that way he’ll be more useful than he is now.

  21. “I suggest that a better use of your time would be to berate the people that regularly mistreat live animals”

    Assuming that we don’t already do such things, of course.

  22. Sick sick sick. Sorry, I don’t care *how* dead the rat was when you found it, show some respect for the creatures you share a planet with.

    Don’t try and go all Oppenhiemer on this either because you *know* somebody will try and skip the first step after reading this….

  23. Disturbing, sick, degenerate, juvenile. It does not matter who killed the rats, if you buy them, you are responsible for the animal’s death. Supply and demand. And as far as other ills are concerned, well, since when do two wrongs make a right? And what does any other wrong have to do with this particular topic? Its not a get-out clause. Grow up.
    I am also dismayed that MAKE has stooped to such a low level. Shame on you. Has it occured to you that it could ‘inspire’ someone else to copy such a sick act? That makes you then also responsible for every animal killed for this sick ‘fun’.

  24. DGary – this was the topics of many conversations today, there are millions of ipod cases and other leather goods specifically for entertainment only – is that right? that’s up to everyone to think about. this rat/mouse was meant to be food, frozen, and those things have expiration dates just like meat in your fridge does too – so what happens what that expires? it gets tossed, so… i personally think a project that combines a past project (mouse taxidermy) with a halloween twist isn’t the end of the world… but that said, the comments here and the instructable are interesting, many thoughtful and i think there’s room for all sorts of projects and opinions in the world of making things.

  25. I see this was vile enough for BoingBoing to take off their website. Cory (if I remember correctly it was him) had little enough common sense to post it, but now it’s gone. If BoingBoing is not going to have guts enough to keep up what it posts, it should apologize for putting it up instead of just deleting the content.

    I agree with others in saying that pointing out other supposedly worse abuses of animals, people, morality, or common sense are an immature response to this post. Making such a response only deflects criticism, it doesn’t justify the underlying activity.

    I have no respect for people that justify this by assigning zero value to a rat’s life (as they will die poorly anyway goes the argument). If that’s the extent of their logic, maybe during the next African food crisis these people should advocate stuffing starving children and inserting glowing eyes in their heads as great Halloween decorations. After all, those kids were going to die horribly in war, or starve, or whatever…

  26. I added this to the first step of my Instructable:
    If you’re ethically opposed to the concept of creative and/or decorative taxidermy (and have chosen to look anyway) I have two questions for you: do you wear leather, and do you eat meat? If you answered yes to either, can you/would you kill and prepare the animals necessary to procure this meat and leather? Willfully ignoring the source of your food and clothing hypocritically outsources the ethical questions and is ultimately disrespectful to the animals involved. If you’re an ethical vegan and eschew leather, I respect your opinion and your desire to avoid viewing discomfiting images. Thus I carefully label the Intro page of these Instructables, hide the more graphic pictures on the later pages, and promise not to send you any taxidermy for Christmas.

  27. My thoughts exactly – what a bunch of hypocrital, pretentious morons. If you use ANYTHING made from another animal for more than mere survival, you are just talking out of your A$$.

    Besides, it is a RAT people, get over it or move to India where they worship rats, monkeys, cows and other animals (all the while starving to death).

    Definitely a MAKE. Sick one, but very creative.

  28. In response to those that justify this on the grounds that people eat meat and wear leather:

    The sacrifice of an animal’s life should be considered in light of the purpose of the sacrifice. The purposes of the scrifice can and should be placed on a spectrum and along those lines every person, and frankly society in general, can draw a line.

    Some people draw that line at any killing of any animal for any purpose. Others draw the line far to the other side and consider the killing of animals for fun to be entirely justified. Most people seem to fall elsewhere on the spectrum as most people see the relative value in using animals for food and clothing, while those same people cannot justify killing an animal purely for fun. Even among hunters one will often find hunters who think it immoral to kill an animal without making use of its body for food and/or clothing.

    I find the killing of animals for this project (or the purchase of sacrificed animals for this project – see my earlier posts) to be beyond my line of morality. It crosses into the part of the spectrum that is about about as far away from the food and clothing justification as one can get. To blurr all such lines as if there is no spectrum is intellectually dishonest.

    I know the next argument will be that no, there is no difference between an unneeded leather watch band or belt or whatever and a “rat throwie.” Not only does that assume that entire animals are killed just for leather and no other purpose (which is incorrect), but it also places very useful items such as those mentioned on par with a Halloween novelty. I don’t think that is justifiable, and if you want to list other comparable, idiotic things that required the killing of anmials entirely for those thing’s creation, do so and agree that all such things are to be avoided.

  29. Canida, I suppose putting a warning on the home page of a child pornography site, or at the beginning of a snuff movie that the images may be shocking to sensitive people makes it ok, doesn’t it? Don’t try to deflect from your responsibility.

  30. Actually, the next argument is “there is no difference between a dead rat and a steak.”

    No dead rat supplier made their fortune off the back of casual taxidermists or school dissection classes. The primary market for dead rats is food for pet, zoo and farm animals.

    There would be no outrage if a Maker bought a steak and stuck some LEDs into it – and considering Halloween such a project isn’t entirely out of the question – and there is zero ethical or moral difference between that and buying a food rat for the same purpose.

    But because a dead rat looks like a rat and a steak doesn’t look like a cow, and people like eating steaks but not rats, it’s easy for a person to justify killing a cow for “survival” (although the vegans seem to be doing just fine) and to denounce the pet food market as cruel and inhumane.

  31. OH please, I hate it when people sound like they care more about the animals then people, i know they probably don’t really think that, but that is the impresion i get from reading this. IT’S A RAT. if it was in your mom’s grandma’s greatgrandma’s etc house she would most likely kill it and through it in the trash, end of story, and for the people wondering why or were you would buy a dead rat,here is why and were, believe it or not, vets and snake and other reptile owner’s buy them to feed there pets and if you go to your local vet they would probably get you some rats to feed your “snake”. don’t get me wrong i don’t think you should kill a cat or dog for the ‘fun’ of it. but what if it is dead when you found it or got it. that is the question.

  32. I have no ETHICAL problem with all this, but I do find it disgusting, tasteless, and pointless, and the risk of running into this sort of thing is EXACTLY why I don’t subscribe to Boing Boing.

    Unfortunately, it is now also why I unsubscribed to MAKE’s previously excellent blog.

  33. one post out of 7000+ and youre gone from MAKE, that’s unfortunate. keep in mind, we covered many many other projects with taxidermy. in make 07, we also have how-to freeze and revive snails…

  34. Okay, to keep everyone happy I’m going to suggest we keep the rats alive while we perfom the throwie implant procedure. It would make for a much more scary effect anyway.

  35. is it really necessary to disrespect a deceased rat? are you people really that pathetic and sadistic? it wasn’t enough that it died to satisfy whatever “human needs” it was meant for, no we’ll defile it some more and make a joke out of it. This isn’t in the name of science, it isn’t to feed a snake, and it sadly enough doesn’t even meet the utility and function of a leather belt that you all try and justify and compare this rat to. please….have some decency.

  36. “is it really necessary to disrespect a deceased rat?”

    On the contrary… taxidermy preserves the subject in a lifelike form – it becomes a teastament to rat (or mouse) kind as it can last much longer than our lifetimes.

    I don’t recall (but of course there is a possibility of) anyone saying that ancient mumification was disrespectful – or immoral/unethical. Those practices (for the most part) were not in the name of science. Come to think of it, there’s plenty of projects here and on instructables that are not in the name of science.
    —-
    It’s his/her hobby… not mine (and won’t ever be), or anyone elses. You don’t have to support it – but any feedback (positive or negative) supports him/her.

  37. I recommend people look into the work of Gunther von Hagens before considering this in bad taste.

    Gunther’s work is considered art, although admittedly brings just as much if not more controversy.

    or a minor Make celebrity himself, Garnet Hertz.

    I think this project is bathing in such controvery because it contains something many consider juvenile with the “Throwie” (my own views on throwies aside, they do appear juvenile, or even vandalism to some).

    But if it was motion sensative LEDs, or a rat that moved it’s jaw to music it would be considered “art”.

    So I guess we’re back to the old chestnut of “What is Art?”
    Note that answers for this question are easily reversed, which is why the question has continued for so long on so many items.

  38. “On the contrary… taxidermy preserves the subject in a lifelike form – it becomes a teastament to rat (or mouse) kind as it can last much longer than our lifetimes.”

    taxidermy, embalming and preserving the deceseased is unnatural, whether or not recent or ancient cultures embrace such practices. Nature breaks our matter back down so it can be recycled all over again – this is the grand design of nature. I doubt very much that the maker preserved this rat as a sign of worship or respect – the comical LED lights and nonchalant explainations and treatment of this entire project point more along the lines of irreverance and contempt.

    does my feedback give support to him/her? I honestly dont think so, and seeing as how the picture now has been edited out it would seem that the negative feedback has already begun to eradicate the problem. I’m not sure the removal of the photo is necessary, the removal of the project isn’t necessary either – it has opened a dialogue that I think has been beneficial and by all means the make should remain posted to serves as an example for future make projects to keep in mind before they slice n dice another creature in the name of “art”.

  39. “taxidermy, embalming and preserving the deceseased is unnatural, whether or not recent or ancient cultures embrace such practices.”

    Fair enough… I can respect that.

    At the same time, one thing that separates a human from “animal” is creativity and “art.” Just about everything the human race does is not natural. Cities, farm land, burning dead animals and detritus (cough, fossil fuels, cough) etc. etc. etc. Is that to say that we and all of our creations (from clothing to concrete) are blasphemous in the eyes of nature? I’m sure there’s someone out there that will say yes – but I’m just doing my best to take a different angle.

    “…negative feedback has already begun to eradicate the problem.”

    Maybe we’re seeing a different “problem.” To me it seems like a portion of the community is against this person doing it. Well, check out recent instructables – a new one was posted (conjoined) AND the admin went so far as saying that no one (other than the admin) has the right to say what should or shouldn’t be posted. I still say, ANY feedback supports the craftsmen, artist etc. It may not be apparent, but think of the creator as the musician and his work as a sonnet. If I were the musician, I want both negative and positive feedback.

    Now the admin over there (instructables) have taken a very loose stance on content type (which is commendable). At first it worried me a little, but like you said, it opens up healthy discussion.

    It seems your problem is that it, this project, exists here. I can accept that. The image was removed. Fair enough – after all, Make: is a business. Keep your readers happy. Removing the picture will not make me stop reading – but the contrary might stop someone else. I can respect that decision. Now go and google “LED throwie rat” – the results turn up over 500 hits and it has only been online for two days (not even enough time for the googlebot to make its rounds). This “problem” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it has already gone viral.

  40. “This “problem” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it has already gone viral.”

    I think you and I are not on the same page. The reaction to this project is “viral” in the publicity it has gained – but I don’t see a tremendous growth in amateur taxidermists making more rat throwies (and yes there is that other conjoined rat up now, by the same person though, so its not really a surprise. Also notable, is most of those hits reported by google all send you back to the initial project- I’ve yet to see another rat throwie done by someone else). I do not see all these reactions- positive and negative- as a problem. its actually great, we all should have an open debate on what we consider moral and just. I have no issues drawing more attention to the issue if it means more people will join the debate. Ignoring the issue won’t change anything. I bet this person has been doing crazy stuff like this for awhile now, and will continue doing so. It just so happens on this one instance this rat throwie has been thrust into the limelight for all of us to scrutinize. And I do assure you, with the passing of time, this project will fade into nothingness as everyone stops caring. If dozens upon dozens of new rat throwies start showing up…well then we will have a problem.

    “At the same time, one thing that separates a human from “animal” is creativity and “art.”

    What also separates humans from animal is our ability to reason and moralize our actions and thoughts. All artists and designers (including myself) has a great social and enviromental responsibility. Whether they live up to the expectations or not is up to them, but they have the art community and the public to answer to when they have complete disregard to these responsibilities.

  41. i agree with you jro06, put I think there is a problem here, i think it is fine to try to protect the enviroment and all that stuff, but the promblem is that people take it to an extreme level such as here http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-01-04-windmills-usat_x.htm
    this article says that we should take down wind turbines in california and spend mony to have them moved because they are killing birds. i do believe they talked about this on “garage logic” on the radio. also i did some reaserch and found out that more birds were killed by house cats the the turbines and the only time they were killed were times of difficult visiblity ex. rain/fog
    my opinion is some people might be taking this here to an extreme. I’m sure this rat wouldn’t care or other rats. it’s not like we killed 100’s of rats on purpose to make led throwies, that would cause some concern. 1 rat (not a person) which was already dead, made into a LED throwie does not want to make me say “how dare you that is immoral.” Just a side note and corect me if I’m wrong, didn’t native Indians or i think it was the Inca people that used bones fore costumes and decerations. Just a thought.

  42. Hey Edison-

    Ok, that wind turbine thing is deplorable. I do not believe wind turbines should be taken down because some birds flew into it. I’m not a animal rights militant, but the careless and mocking tone of the LED rat throwie struck a chord of discontent within me.

    “didn’t native Indians or i think it was the Inca people that used bones fore costumes and decerations. Just a thought”
    – yes, they did, many cultures did, and still do. Heck, the greatest fashion designers still use fur and leather an other assorted by products of animals. However, one can certainly devise the argument that fur is for warmth, leather is for protection and utility. In regards to ancient peoples using bones for decoration, it is also notable that they paid great respect to the animal that was killed to make their clothes, their shelter, provide them with food, provide them with organs to turn into water bags, and use their bones for utensils or as you noted decration. Native Americans worshiped and prayed to many animal spirits, and always paid respects when they hunted an animal to sustain their own exsistence. Nowadays, we have many other options to meet all these needs, and to decorate ourselves. Many people make a conscious effort not to use animal by-products for everyday needs. I am neither for or against this mentality, people who do this certainly have my respect but so do people that haven’t choosen this path. People who do not have my respect, are ones who make fun of animals that died for whatever human reasons, and defile the dead body with unnatural human made electronics and display the corpse as a joke on a website. This person had not an inkling of respect for the loss of life – when someone can be so calloused to the death of anything (from a rat to a human), I find that inexcusable and inhuman.

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