Man Finds Real Life ‘Rat King’ In His Yard When Three Squirrels Get Their Tails Tangled

We may have developed technologies that make our lives easier and our tasks more convenient, but the materials we use can negatively impact the earth—and the other animals on it. Most of the time, it’s hard for these critters to understand when not to touch something manmade that can be dangerous for them.

Such was the case for a trio of squirrels who got themselves tangled up in a sticky situation—literally! Being the sort of creatures that like to collect knick-knacks and other items, these squirrels found that dryer lint and insulation made for the perfect nest.

Unfortunately, they didn’t account for one naturally occurring ingredient that happened to interact with the cozy materials in their nest. And when they needed help, there was only one thing that could save them…

Our story begins with a Maryland man and Imgur user who goes by the handle Adam821. It was a chilly day in November 2014, and Adam had been scouring the internet when he heard a strange noise.

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It sounded as though two small animals were fighting. Adam recounted the event on Imgur: “I heard squeaking outside… of course, I had to investigate.”

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He quickly located the source of the frenzied squeaking: it was coming from three tiny squirrels, and they weren’t fighting at all. In fact, they were in distress because their tails were stuck…to each other! Adam decided to place them in a bucket so he could get a better look.

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He realized that the squirrels had “made a nest out of insulation and dryer lint in a pine tree, and the sap kind of glued it to them, and them to each other.”

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The poor squirrels were clearly struggling. Adam became worried, but was determined to help them.

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Adam carefully picked up the tangle of lint and insulation to get a closer look at what he was dealing with.

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 The squirrels’ tails were, somehow, completely weaved into the nest they’d made! There was no way they’d be able to escape on their own.

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The squirrels’ predicament was similar to a phenomenon called a “rat king,” in which rodents’ tails become so entwined and knotted with excrement and blood that they grow together.

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“I started pulling some of the insulation off but it was a slow process,” Adam said. “The sap from the tree was so thick, it was pulling the hair from their little tails.”

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“Believe it or not,” he continued, “they were really calm throughout the whole process.” Adam first tried to carefully cut off as much of the material as possible using scissors.

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Somehow, the squirrels seemed to know that they were being helped. Or perhaps they were fatigued or scared. Still, they hardly made a noise once Adam began to help. Scissors weren’t enough by themselves, so he added warm water…

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…and finally, one squirrel was freed!

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Still, the other two were quite stuck. Adam’s next idea was to use dish soap and some “gentle pulling” to ease them apart.

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Success—all three squirrels were finally free! Adam let them rest in the bucket, which they seemed to appreciate. He continued to pull apart the nesting material and took photos to compare the nest’s size to the squirrels.

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It was easy to see how the nest had trapped these squirrels; it was bigger than the three of them combined! Adam then prepared to release the trio back into the wild. The first squirrel ran right up his arm and into the tree behind him, while the second was afraid and immediately scurried off.

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The third squirrel, as Adam wrote, “was a total bro and let me take a couple pictures with him. My niece/accomplice couldn’t contain herself.”

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The internet was similarly excited—and liked Adam’s photos more than half a million times!

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He also received a ton of praise. One commenter said, “You’re a good man and a beautiful soul.”

These squirrels had a very scary moment before Adam arrived on the scene. If he hadn’t investigated their cries, they may not have made it. Adam is a true hero of the animal kingdom, even if he didn’t mean to be!

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