Chilling moment rats knot tails in unexplained ‘rat king’ phenomenon

A bizarre video allegedly shows the rare "rat king" phenomenon said to be a bad omen that predicts a coming plague or famine.

In the clip, filmed in Russia by a man called Alibulat Rasulov, he shows five rats with their tails intertwined in a flooded watermelon field.

The baby rats are soaking wet and suspended above the water with their tails tied to the stem of a plant in farmland in Russia's Stavropol Territory.

Alibulat removes the rats from the plant and places them on a white surface, revealing that all five are joined by a tight knot in their tails.

The Russian said he believes the rats were tied together by their mum who wanted to stop them from falling into the water and drowning.

Very few examples of "rat king" have ever been recorded and their true cause is highly debated by scientists, with many believing it is a hoax.

Many explanations have been proposed since the first known report of the phenomenon as far back as 1564.

One theory is that rats might become exposed to sticky substances such as sap which then "glues" their tails together and they quickly knot.

  • Hungry rat scampers across busy road clutching McDonald's Big Mac burger in mouth

After the rats notice they are bound together, they panic and the more they pull away from each other, the tighter the knot becomes.

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 and this could result in them becoming bound together.

On the flip side, Matthew Combs, a doctoral student studying rats at Fordham University, said: "Rat kings may just be a myth that a few people have perpetuated with fake examples."

This comes after a woman found baby rats sleeping in her bed after returning home from holiday.

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