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Taxidermy chess: Play with rooks and dead rodents

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When you play with this taxidermy mice chess set, all eyes are on you. Literally. (Credit: Rachael Garcia)

The best-laid schemes of mice and... well, mice. Intimidating opponents is even easier when playing chess with dead mice. Artist Rachael Garcia explains why having a chess set you can pet is fun.

By Bonnie Burton, CNET

Yelling "Checkmate!" is even more rewarding with a dead mouse clasped in your hand. Or that appears to be the thinking behind this one-of-a-kind wooden chessboard that comes with taxidermy mice dressed as kings, queens, rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns.

Created by Florida-based artist Rachael Garcia, the unusual taxidermy chess set is made with white and brown mice that were originally destined to be snake snacks.

"Every mouse was a unique creature in life, making each piece of this set a one-of-a-kind creation, hand-stuffed by me," Garcia writes on her Etsy page. "The set includes 16 light colored mice and 16 dark mice, in various sizes, pawns being the smallest... All specimens were acquired from a captive breeding facility that distributes frozen rodents for reptile feeding, so don't feel sad if these little guys were not battling it out on the chess board they would be deep in the belly of a snake."

The set -- which comes complete with a wooden, hand-painted chessboard and storage case -- took Garcia almost a month to create. She not only used stuffed mice, but sewed tiny costumes and gathered props she scavenged from her local craft store.

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Cocktail swords are perfect size for mice to hold with this unusual taxidermy chess set. (Credit: Rachael Garc …

"The crowns on the king and queen are modified charms for necklaces, and the knights' swords are painted cocktail swords," Garcia told Crave. "The bishops are my favorite. I had to make their little hats by hand and I think they turned out looking really fun."

Her chess set has already sold to a collector, but as her work makes the rounds on various blogs, the reaction has been a mix of wonder and horror. The latter reaction doesn't faze Garcia.

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These taxidermy mice bishops are the artist Rachael Garcia's favorites of the chess set, who sewed their tiny hats …

"The reactions I find interesting; people either love them and think they are so cute or they think I'm a creepy weirdo," Garcia told Crave. "Either way, I am happy to get such strong reactions to my art. Plus you can't pet an ordinary chess set."

New fans of Garcia's work who missed out on her chess set can still look forward to new art pieces using taxidermy mice.

"Next I hope to do more single-piece character mice and I'm taking custom requests," Garcia toid. "So far, I will be making Slash from Guns and Roses for one of my best friends and possible Gandalf from 'Lord of the Rings.' And as far as multipiece sets, I hope to have the Last Supper finished in the next few months."

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The kings and queens of this chess set have beady little eyes. (Credit: Rachael Garcia)

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