Giving ‘life’ to dead animals

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Heads count: Xavier Noonan’s hobby ensures dead animals are not forgotten. Picture: Gary Sissons

Heads count: Xavier Noonan’s hobby ensures dead animals are not forgotten. Picture: Gary Sissons

IT’S unusual to associate young boys with taxidermy, but don’t tell Xavier Noonan. The Grade 6 Tyabb Primary School pupil is so enthused by his craft that he’s decorated the walls of his parents’ house with a stuffed rat, mice, birds of all sorts, fox, duck, and a deer’s head.

“And we’ve got a lot of dead bodies in our freezer,” confided his mum, Kellie.

At the tender age of 11, Xavier has been practising taxidermy for nearly two years. “He has been passionate about animals since he was little and was always very good at art,” Mrs Noonan said.

“It was a taxidermy fox with a duck in its mouth at a friend’s house that got his attention a few years ago and he has been crazy about it ever since.”

Xavier saved up his pocket money to buy the tools of the trade for $200-$300, which includes a scalpel, various knives, needles, thread, and even a brain scraper, as well as embalming fluid for skins and feathers.

“He doesn’t kill animals; he has always loved them,” Mrs Noonan said

“He gets them from farmers, landowners and people who find them already dead – perhaps on the road – and they hang around here until he has time to work on them.”

Taxidermy is best done when the animals and birds are fresh – meaning there is little smell – and the waste goes into plastic bags and into the bin.

“Xavier recently got a licence to preserve native Australian animals that are found dead that would otherwise not be allowed to be touched because they are protected,” Mrs Noonan said.

Fame is already calling: he recently featured on Channel 31’s Antiques with Attitude program and is now on their season two introductory promotion.

A “career” highlight has been a personal tour of the taxidermy department of Melbourne Museum. This came about after they advertised for a taxidermist which, undeterred by his tender years, Xavier applied for only to be knocked back.

“They were very impressed by him and took him on the tour which he found fascinating,” his mum said.

For a look at Xavier’s skills visit the Vintage Shed and Tyabb Packing House, in Mornington-Tyabb Rd, Tyabb.  

First published in the Western Port News – 4 August 2015

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