the Rat kings

A rat king is a rare phenomenon arising in rats. A number of rats become intertwined at the tails, and are joined with blood, dirt, and excrement. Consequently, the animals grow together, joined at the tails, which are often broken. The phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, where the majority of instances have been located.

 Rat kings
Rat kings have always been a subject of fear and superstition, and killed upon discovery. Nevertheless, there were occasional findings of dead and subsequently mummified rat kings. The museum Mauritianum in Altenburg (Thuringia) shows the largest well-known mummified "rat king", which was found in 1828 in the fire-place of a miller in Buchheim. It consists of 32 rats. Alcohol-preserved rat kings may be viewed in museums in Hamburg, Hameln, Goettingen and Stuttgart. Altogether, the number of well-known finds of rat kings is small. Depending upon source, it varies between 35 and 50 finds.

Historically, rat kings were seen as an extremely bad omen, particularly associated with plagues. Such events also occurred, since rat kings arise only if too many rats exist and are according to little place for new buildings. With an increase in the size of the rat population comes an increase of the chance of outbreak of disease, for example the Black Death, which is spread by rat fleas.

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