If you're lucky enough not to know what a rat king is, congrats! We're about to ruin that for you. Those of you who are imagining tiny little rats with cute little wiggly noses and adorable little crowns are so far off that we almost feel bad for you. A rat king is a bundle of rats who, for whatever reason, are tangled together by their tails. A small rat king may be just three or four, but rat kings comprising more than 30 rats have been recorded more than once. Five young squirrels in Wisconsin found themselves stuck in an adorably fluffy "squirrel king" when their tails got tangled with nest material.
Unfortunately for the squirrel kits, their mother had used long-stemmed grass and strips of plastic she found as nesting material. When the plastic and grass tangled around the kits' tails, they were hopelessly stuck. A human good Samaritan found the ball of babies and called the Wisconsin Humane Society for help. Their Wildlife Rehabilitation Center was able to step in, give all five kits some medication to calm them down and ease their pain, and slowly untangle the mess.
Two have scragglier tails than before but they should all survive. All five will need to be monitored for a while since the plastic tangle caused damage and decay to their tails by cutting off blood flow, which may need more intervention. For now, the little fluffs are recovering just fine. The Humane Society posted about the incident on Facebook and included some pictures. Rescuers believe that, if nobody stepped in, they likely would have died or at least had to gnaw off their own tails to get free.
Here we see the kits sedated but still tangled up. You can see how tightly they were stuck together.
Here they are finally untangled and missing significant amounts of tail fluff.
There are a few more pictures in the full Facebook post, but things really got going when the story hit Twitter.
Lighthearted jokes and well-wishes were everywhere.
We will keep you updated as the little ones recover and hopefully grow back some tail fur.