Estonian sightings of a gruesome rat king, where a group or rats’ tails become intertwined, were extremely rare.
Johan Uibopuu (and his mother) made the skin-crawling discoveries in their Tartu chicken coop.
As they tried to get free, they found 13 rats tied together by their tails.
Estonia has a gruesome “rat king”, where a group or rats’ tails are intertwined.
Johan Uibopuu, Tartu’s mother’s chicken coop, made the skin-crawling discovery
Johan said: ‘I was making the most of a quiet morning in Tartu when my mother phoned me, sounding quite upset.
“She was going to feed the chickens at the chicken coop when she noticed a bunch of rats at the entrance. She opened the door.
“When the shock had worn off, she went to investigate. She tried to remove them from her path, but they were still stuck to the ground.
According to superstition rat kings are a sign that there is an impending plague. This is one of the few live sightings of modern times.
Andrei Miljutin of University of Tartu, who had previously documented an encounter with a Rat King in 2005, agreed that he would take the specimen.
As they tried to free themselves, they found 13 rats, two already dead, bound by their tails.
Johan, a veterinarian said that he found a tunnel in the chicken coop where rats had dug it (pictured).
He said of the two rats that had already died in the latest rat king: ‘Rats within the rat king are sentenced to death.
‘Even if they do manage to escape the narrow burrow, their bodies are totally unprotected.
‘Their survival depends on concrete circumstances – usually they survive until the first encounter with a cat, dog or human.
People usually react to seeing a rat king by killing it.
Johan, a veterinarian, said it was obvious what had attracted the rats to the shed in Põlva County, southern Estonia.
Dr Miljutin stated that rat kings were an “extremely rare phenomenon” with only 60 cases in nearly 500 years of recorded history.
Dr Miljutin was also puzzled at the fact that the rats had become so entangled.
According to the 28-year-old, “There was a tunnel that was dug by rats from underground to the surface close to the door.”
It is the perfect place for rats because it has ample food, water, and bedding.
“Maybe they clumped together at the surface to keep warm, since it was the first day in autumn when the temperature fell below zero during the night.
“And as some of the men tried to enter, all of them got stuck.
“I believe the tunnel was too small for rats to emerge from it as a rat king.
The 28-year old said that the tunnel (pictured) found in the chicken coop was too small to allow the rat king entry as one.
Dr Miljutin had previously documented a encounter with a Rat King in 2005 (pictured at the University of Tartu).
Dr Miljutin claimed that rat-kings were a ‘rare phenomenon’ with only 60 cases recorded in the 500 years of recorded historical records.
He added that it was possible for most rat kings to have never been found, or that they were disposed of without being reported.
To end the suffering of the animals trapped, the museum decided to kill the rat king.
Dr Miljutin said: ‘We counted all possibilities and decided that it is more humane to euthanise the rats than increase their suffering by amputating their tails – it was impossible to untie the knot.
“Besides, what would you do after an amputation?” Estonia is not a place where rats can survive, and no one wants them in their home.
‘On the contrary – people regularly kill rats with poison and traps.
“These animals cannot be kept in an ordinary pet cage and are rarely tamed.”
The museum will now keep the specimen.