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This Man Is The Ravenmaster And His Job Is Insanely Cool

Life goal: to be a raven.

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In case you didn't know, legend has it that there must always be six ravens at the Tower of London. If they leave, the kingdom and the tower will fall. There are currently six main ravens at the tower, and one reserve.

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The ravenmaster also has super popular Vine, Twitter, and Facebook pages, documenting his day-to-day life with the ravens. They produce some incredible videos, like this:

So how does someone become the ravenmaster? Skaife first joined the Tower of London as a yeoman warder in 2005, and shortly afterwards was introduced to the birds. He works long days, often waking up before sunrise.

Me and my Raven today chilling out. #raven #selfie

"All yeoman warders (the Queen's ceremonial guards who look after the royal palaces) must be ex-armed forces," he said. "They must have served at least 22 years and reached the rank of a warrant officer with an exemplary record.

"One day the old ravenmaster said to me, 'The birds might like you.' He put me in the cage, and thought he saw something the ravens might like, so since then I have cared for them. I knew nothing about ravens before."

Skaife said he was encouraged to set up his social media accounts after he received constant questions about the tower's feathery residents. He said he is constantly surprised by how popular the ravens are.

"I have lots of people who follow me for various reasons – artists who want to draw the birds, people for whom the raven is a spiritual figure, and people who just like Vines of ravens," he said.

"My job also allows me to get very close to the ravens, so I can show people photos [and] videos of the ravens up close which other people may not be able to get."

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Keen to know more, we had a few more questions we put to Skaife and Merlina, the tower's spare raven.

First, what do ravens eat? Do you actually feed them blood-soaked biscuits?

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"Yes, they occasionally have a blood biscuit. They also eat meat from Smithfield Market – the same meat given to Claridge's – mice, and treats snatched from visitors. We do not encourage visitors to feed the ravens, but they are scavengers..."

Some people have said that ravens can speak. Is this true?

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"Ravens are mimics – they can copy and repeat the sounds they hear. The tower's ravens do this to attract other birds to play with. I don't encourage the ravens to talk, but we do have a way of saying hello."

How smart are ravens?

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"Some people have said that ravens are as smart as dolphins or chimpanzees," Skaife said. "I know of one woman who has taught her raven a version of sign language so it can communicate with language-impaired people. The ravens here at the tower are regularly used by university students to study animal behaviour and cognitive ability."

How do you stop them escaping? What do you do if they do?

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"Sometimes they do. They have their wings clipped to stop flying too far, but they can still take off. We have raven breeders across the country I can get new ravens from."

And finally, do ravens like ravin'?

"Ravens can be playful – roll on their back, play dead. They also bob about sometimes, which can look like a dance. I imagine, since they live at the tower, they prefer more classical music."

Thanks, Ravenmaster and Merlina!

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You can follow the ravenmaster here and the Tower of London here.

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