Friday, March 10, 2000  

Peter Butler, an avid auction bidder from San Francisco, bought a taxidermy squirrel from Eagle Catcher Taxidermy. The squirrel is holding a little toy rifle and wearing a bright orange hunting vest and wicker cap for $50.

Even though he bought it as a gift for his brother, he found it difficult to part with the cute creation. "But it was worth it just to see my grandmaÍs face when my brother opened his present," Butler says.

If bidders search online auctions under taxidermy they will probably find other squirrels dressed like fishermen, bow hunters, canoeists and even rodeo squirrels, thanks to Eagle Catcher Taxidermy. Their animals often range in price from $50 to $200, depending on the popularity of the auction item.

Believe it or not, there are quality-made taxidermy items, and there are those that will end up in your closet because it began to smell or deteriorate from poor workmanship. Before you buy, make sure that the piece is protected against things like humidity, age and bugs. And ask the seller if he is willing to repair or replace the item if needed.

But most importantly, "always try to acquire pieces that are unique in design and composition, and interesting specimens that appeal to you personally," Frierson says. "This combined with good quality work will always leave you happy for many years to come."

It might be hard to determine the actual monetary value of these peculiar animals. But maybe it isn't the creature itself, but the event of giving someone such a strange gift that holds all the value.

"Half the time, like with anything in life," Frierson says, "it's not the item that you are looking at, it's the story that goes behind it.

Bonnie Burton, creator of, writes about dating dilemmas, online auction addictions and Internet culture for various magazines and Web sites including MissClick, Wired, Yahoo! Internet Life and Excite@Home.

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