Squirrels, rats, and other rodents can accidentally tie their tails together!
What do you call 32 rats stuck together by their tails? It may sound like a joke, but there’s a very real answer. It’s called a “rat king” and does occur in nature, though it is rare (no more than 50 recorded instances). This can also happen to squirrels, known as a squirrel king, as well as other rodents. So how can this happen, and why do we call them “kings”?
These “kings” can form a few different ways. The tails can be stuck together with blood, dirt, ice, feces or just get knotted together. The number of rats joined together can vary and kings with more rats (or other creature) are less likely. The largest rat king ever reported was made up of 32 rats together in 1828.
No one’s completely sure on the origin of the name. Some theories are that it was translated from a German word, that people may have though it was one creature with many bodies (a huge rat with many bodies? Rat king!), Or that the French term transformed over time to mean “rat king.”