The Rat King

RatkingMankind has been anthropomorphizing  the animal world ever since we achieved consciousness and seems to find special resonance in leader examples, from queen bees to alpha dogs. One the strangest and most horrifying of royal personages within this mirror realm is the Rat King, whereby a group of rats somehow end up with their tails entangled (whether physically knotted or bound with blood, feces, or dirt) and live on as a seething ball of vermin. Presumably the only way such a thing could survive is on the largesse of others of its kind, sorta like the human serfs of the feudal era.  A woodcut from J. Sambucus’s book Emblemata proves the concept has existed in folklore since at least 1564 (finding one in your house was supposedly a harbinger of plague), and though it is often assumed to be just a legend or the hoaxed creation of overzealous cryptozologists, quite of few examples of these things have been found over the years. Oddly enough, most of them are discovered in Germany, which was the first to coin the term Rattenkönig.