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Well, that’s weird

I was on the phone to my old man the other day, reminiscing about the time he shot a huge rat in the family hunting cabin and all the little rats went screaming insane around us for a day. I had it in my head that a master rat was known as a rat king, but it turns out these are rat kings — a bunch of rats that somehow get tangled at the tails and live out their days as a big traveling clump o’ rats.

First reported in 1564, they may or may not be for real — despite several found in museums and sightings well into the 20th C. The Rucphen rat king (above) shows what looks like damage and healing of the knotted tail bones on x-ray, so if it’s a fake, it’s a clever one.

Surviving rat kings are made up of black rats, Rattus rattus, which have been almost completely displaced in Europe by the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. So that explains why there aren’t any more. That, or because the whole thing was bullshit.

Rat kings were believed to bring plague — which I suppose they could do as well as any other kind of rat.

Have some Alta Vista translations: the Dutch rat king a Rutphen, the German rat king of Altenburger and the French rat king of Nantes.

Now, does anybody know what a rat patriarch is called?


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 3, 2010, 8:05 pm

Huh. Well that’s just creepy. And also something that I thought Terry Pratchett just made up.

Comment from Pupster
Time: February 3, 2010, 8:37 pm


Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 3, 2010, 8:40 pm

Why did I click on this while I was eating… ‘cuse me.

Comment from armybrat
Time: February 3, 2010, 8:46 pm

well thanks….that’s a reason to love my insomnia.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 3, 2010, 9:45 pm

Damn. THAT must have been one HELL of a gang bang…..

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 3, 2010, 10:15 pm

Now, does anybody know what a rat patriarch is called?

Grandaddy Rat?
Emperor Rat?

Comment from weirdsister
Time: February 3, 2010, 10:21 pm

This is only slightly more disturbing than the stuffed kitty vignette post. I can always count on the Weasel Times & Stoat Intelligencer to teach me something new that I possibly could have happily spent the rest of my life not knowing about… 😛 But I guess I can’t help myself. I have to have my Weasel fix. LOL

Comment from Lissa
Time: February 3, 2010, 11:05 pm

Now, does anybody know what a rat patriarch is called?

The ratta-tat-tat?
The ratriarch?
The rastadon?
The ratatouille?

Well, probably not that last one . . .

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 3, 2010, 11:14 pm

OK, I’m throwing my vote to “ratriarch.” Bravo, Lissa!
(Yeah, I thought ratatouille was funny on many, many levels. . .but probably not practical. . .)

Comment from Dawn
Time: February 4, 2010, 12:08 am

The “patriarch rat” is called the dominant male and the other males are called subordinate males. Sorry it wasn’t more sexy.

I have to ask if Rahm Emmanuel inspired this post?

Comment from porknbean
Time: February 4, 2010, 1:25 am

I have a feeling that ol’ Rahm likes to ‘catch’.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: February 4, 2010, 3:48 am

How about “Puff-Ratty”?


Crickets chirping in the middle of winter was NOT the answer I had in mind…..


Comment from tibby
Time: February 4, 2010, 4:57 pm

You never cease to amaze me…

Comment from Randy Rager
Time: February 4, 2010, 7:12 pm

One of my favorite webcomics featured one of those. Start here:


Unless you don’t LIKE webcomics or something…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 4, 2010, 7:33 pm

Well, now, I like webcomics as much as the next weasel, but those things look awfully like…furries. Manga furries.

And aren’t they…raccoons?

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 4, 2010, 11:33 pm

I think these things are artifacts, like the “Malaysian mermaid (constructed from a fish and a monkey) or the “Jenny Haniver” (a skate or ray resected into a vaguely humanoid shape and preserved in varnish).

Comment from DaveP.
Time: February 5, 2010, 7:02 am

“Now, does anybody know what a rat patriarch is called?”

Joe Kennedy?

Comment from iamfelix
Time: February 5, 2010, 5:13 pm

Ahhhh … DaveP stole my answer.

Comment from DaveP.
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:28 pm

Stoaty: R.H. is one fo the few politically conservative cartoonists, and one of the even fewer ones who’s socailly conservative too. You need fear no yiffing from him.

Comment from qrstuv
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:30 am

Why does the Rucphen rat king look like several old-fashioned electrical cords tied together?

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