First off I want to point out that “Rat King” is not a character from a cartoon many of us watched when we were younger. It is in fact a phenomenon that occurs with real rats when they are seeking warmth. I call it a phenomenon because of the resulting end of the manifestation, so to speak.
What is Rat King?
Well the translation from ancient times is how the part about the “king” comes into play and the “rat” part is kind of obvious. It is rats.
The phenomenon, Rat King, is when several to many rats or other small rodents get together, maybe for heat or comfort, and die in that formation. This can be caused my sticky substances that trap them or perhaps the exposure to the elements themselves.
When the rats die and the carcasses mummify they form a cluster of dead rats, they are usually joined by their tales or hind quarters and rest in a circular type of display.
Sometimes there tales appear to be entwined and that adds to some of the eerie superstition behind the whole phenomenon. I think the look of it alone is enough to do it justice. Take a look yourselves at some of the pictures.
A Weird part of it is, is that it is more prominent as a phenomenon in European countries when I have seen similar. Of course where I live it is not huge clusters like this but it still has a resemblance. Just goes to show that the Southwest North American Pack Rat isn’t much different from its European cousins.
The Eerie Part:
Well I added this to eerie for thoughts because…well…its kind of an eerie thing. Anytime a large amount of living creatures get together and die it has an “off” feeling to the normal. Still there was a lot of superstition surrounding this phenomenon in the ancient times.
Some people believe it’s a bad omen to find it and that it is a sign of an oncoming plaque. Others thought that it was someone expressing their cruelty towards nature or the living and did this to the animals in a vengeful state of mind.
Rat King is mentioned in several stories and comes up meaning different things or has different effects on the characters. One thing that most can agree on, is that the phenomenon would be a creepy demise to any living creature and kind of an eerie feel to it if you happened to be the one to discover it. Maybe have it fall out of a ceiling and into your hair and stuff like that. You know eerie.
Okay that was actually more just gross. Hope everyone celebrating had a Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks for Reading,
Joshua Crane Dowidat