Essay On Rat King

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A rat king is a collection of rats whose tails are intertwined and bound together by one of several possible mechanisms, such as entangling material like hair or sticky substances like sap or gum. The number of rats joined together varies from a few to as many as 32. Historically, the phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, which produced many reported instances. Rat kings occur so rarely that they have sometimes been thought to be cryptids, but there are several well-attested modern occurrences. A similar phenomenon happens with other small rodents such as forest mice and squirrels.[1].

In folklore, rat kings are associated with various superstitions and were often seen as a bad omen, particularly associated with plagues.

Contents [hide]
1 Etymology
2 History
3 In folklore and popular culture
4 …show more content…

The term was not originally used in reference to actual rats, but for persons who lived off others. Konrad Gesner in Historia animalium (1551–58) stated: "Some would have it that the rat waxes mighty in its old age and is fed by its young: this is called the rat king." Martin Luther stated: "finally, there is the Pope, the king of rats right at the top." Later, the term referred to a king sitting on a throne of knotted tails.[2]

An alternative theory states that the name in French was rouet de rats (or a spinning wheel of rats, the knotted tails being wheel spokes), with the term transforming over time into roi des rats.[3]


Rat king
The earliest report of rat kings comes from 1564.[2] The phenomenon may have diminished when the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) displaced the black rat (R. rattus) in the 18th century.[4] Most extant examples are formed from black

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