Rat King

Rat King

Updated Aug 21, 2014 at 09:46PM EDT by RandomMan.

Added Apr 01, 2013 at 03:44PM EDT by Katie C..

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A Rat King is any mess of rats that has become bound together through their tails being tied or having solid waste stick to their tails. They were often seen as harbingers of disease and death.


Although they are somewhat mythological, Rat Kings did exist in reality due to poor sanitation. The first recorded sighting was in 1564. (Hart, Martin (1982, c1973). Rats. Allison & Busby Ltd. p. 66.) However, they had a superstitious mythological quality: The people that saw them often saw them as being omens of impending disease, a curse on the towns in which they appeared. Although there was a correlation between Rat Kings and disease, it was because places with poor health and sanitation were ripe for the spread of diseases and the formation of Rat Kings, this was not because Rat Kings had a mystical quality to attract pestilence.

Modern Era

The myth of the Rat King has since vanished with the advent of modern medicine and sanitation, although Rat Kings are occasionally still sighted,[1] yet it is still somewhat iconic in some writings. Real specimens of Rat Kings can be found in museums in Europe and other places.[2]

A Rat King from the museum Mauritianum in Altenburg, Germany.

External References

[1] University of Tartu – Rat kings in Estonia

[2] Otago Museum – Rat King

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