I kept thinking maybe it was just something from log ago, but with several found in recent years that thought flew right out the window. See what you think!
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Several museums around the world contain bizarre once-living artifacts of a pseudo-legendary beast from the Middle Ages called a “rat king.” A rat king is formed when several rats have their tails fused together, whether by knotting or being somehow glued together. The result is a small horde of rats all facing outward from the central knot, presumably forced to act as one composite beast. The more fanciful accounts hold that one leader rat is suspended in the middle and acts as the “head” who directs the rest—a nightmarish notion, especially considering the fears of plague that rats conjure up.
The largest of these disturbing artifacts contains 32 of the little horrors and resides at the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg, Germany. Some existing rat kings are mummified, while others are preserved in jars. Rat kings have been found in Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Indonesia. In every case except Indonesia, the rats were black: Rattus rattus L. In the case of Indonesia, they were small field rats: R. argentiventer.
As recently as 2005, a farmer named Rein Koiv found a rat king consisting of 16 individuals (nine of which were already dead) underneath the floorboards of his farm in Estonia, their tails glued together by frozen sand. Rat kings aren’t always composed of rats; mice kings and even squirrel kings have also been reported. In June 2013, an animal clinic in Canada received quite a shock when a city worker brought in six squirrels fused to each other’s tails by tree sap. They managed to save the plucky squirrels—their tails were partially shaved but they were otherwise intact.
To be honest, I hope I never find one of these things. Just to know they actually exist in the real world is more information than I want to know!