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Bizarre moment five rats are found tied together in rare ‘rat king’ phenomenon that ‘signals impending plague or famine’

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THIS ratpack have taken family ties to another level – intertwining their tails in a rare ‘rat king’ phenomenon – that supposedly signals an impending plague or famine.

The five rodents were recorded bizarrely bound together as they struggled to scurry in different directions at a flooded watermelon field in Russia.

@__alibulat__rasulov__/CEN

The rat king phenomenon is said to be a sign of an impending plague or famine[/caption]

@__alibulat__rasulov__/CEN

The shocking clip was filmed in a flooded watermelon field in Russia[/caption]

The stomach-churning video was captured in the Stavropol Territory by Alibulat Rasulov, who shared the curious array of rodents on social media – much to the horror of locals.

The phenomenon was often cited in folklore as a bad omen, symbolically warning of a coming plague or famine.

In the clip, Rasulov is seen observing the rats in the flooded field with their tails tied to the stem of a plant.

He frees them from the stalk and places them on a white surface, to display how the rat’s tails are disturbingly knotted together.

The ‘rat king’ phenomenon, typically common in Germany, has baffled scientists who have no idea how the rodents managed to get knotted up together.

But Rasulov believes they were somehow secured together by their mother, in a bid to stop them from falling into the water that swamped the field.


Experts have been left puzzled by the eerie occurrence, as very few examples have ever been recorded and its origins remain a highly debatable topic.

There are several swarms that have been preserved in museums across the world, with the first known report of the ‘rat king’ dating back to 1564.

In history, it has been a sign of bad luck and came to be associated with the Black Death, due to their reputation for carrying diseases.

Some suggest the rat king occurs because rats are often exposed to sticky substances, such as sap or gum, seeing them effectively glue their tails together which they knot.

As they panic and attempt to break free, the more they pull away from each other, the tighter the knot becomes.

Other theories suggest it because their hair becomes entwined, leading them to become stuck together.

RAT-PUTATION

It is thought the pack cannot survive for long when they are tied up, as they cannot get food or flee from predators.

Emma Burns, curator of natural science at Otago Museum, told Atlas Obscura that rat kings could theoretically be natural.

She explained that some rats have tails that have a natural “clasping” reflex which could cause them to become bound together.

The unusual spectacle has also been seen amongst clusters of squirrels, suggesting it could be a rarity common amongst rodents.

The tied up scurry’s are thought to have become stuck together after coming into contact with sap from trees that they frequent.

However, Matthew Combs, a doctoral student focusing on rats at Fordham University, told the publication: “Rat kings may just be a myth that a few people have perpetuated with fake examples.”

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Experts have been baffled as to how the rodents become tied together[/caption]

@__alibulat__rasulov__/CEN

Alibulat Rasulov believes their mother somehow attached them together to stop them from drowning in the flooded field[/caption]

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