The Squirrel King Phenomenon: When Tails Get Tangled
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We may have developed technologies that make our lives easier and our tasks more convenient, but the materials we use can sometimes negatively impact the Earth—and the other animals who live on it. Such was the case for a trio of squirrels who got themselves tangled up in a sticky situation—literally.
These squirrels found that dryer lint and insulation made for the perfect nest, and began collecting the material. Unfortunately, they didn’t account for one naturally occurring ingredient that happened to interact with the cozy materials in their nest.
And when that led to some serious trouble, there was only one thing that could have saved them.
When Squirrels Get Stuck
On a chilly day in November 2014, Maryland man named Adam (Known on Imgur as Adam821) had been working on his computer when he suddenly heard a strange noise coming from outside. Oddly enough, it sounded almost as though two small animals were fighting each other. Adam later recounted the event on Imgur: “I heard squeaking outside… of course, I had to investigate.”
He quickly located the source of the frenzied squeaking: it was coming from three little squirrels, but they weren’t fighting at all. In fact, they were in distress because their tails were stuck… to each other. Adam decided to place them in a bucket so he could get a better look.
Upon closer inspection, he realized that the squirrels had accidentally “made a nest out of insulation and dryer lint in a pine tree.” Unfortunately, they didn’t account for the sap.
“The sap kind of glued it to them, and them to each other,” he later said.
The poor squirrels were clearly struggling desperately for their lives. Adam became worried for the little animals, and he was utterly determined to help them in whatever way that he could.
He slowly and carefully lifted the tangle of lint and insulation to get a closer look at what he was dealing with. The squirrels, meanwhile, were understandably uncomfortable, and he could’ve been bitten at any time. It might have been risky, but somebody had to do it!
The poor squirrels’ tails were, somehow, completely weaved into the nest that they had inadvertently made. There was absolutely no way that they would’ve been able to escape it on their own.
What Is A Squirrel King?
When the tails of several squirrels become completely entwined and knotted together, the squirrels form the phenomenon known as a “squirrel king”. This unfortunate predicament is similar to a phenomenon called a “rat king,” in which several rodents’ tails become so entwined and knotted with excrement and blood that they grow together. This usually happens in city sewers.
Rescuing Glued Squirrels
“I started pulling some of the insulation off but it was a slow process,” Adam said about his efforts to help. “The sap from the tree was so thick, it was pulling the hair from their little tails.” Those poor squirrels!
“Believe it or not,” Adam continued, “they were really calm throughout the whole process.” He first tried to carefully cut off as much of the material as possible using a pair of scissors…
Somehow, the squirrels seemed to know that they were being helped… or perhaps they were simply fatigued or scared. In any case, they hardly made any noise at all once Adam began to cut away at the nest.
Scissors weren’t enough to do the trick by themselves, so Adam tried adding warm water… and finally, one squirrel was freed! One could only imagine how much of a relief it must have been for him.
Still, the other two remained quite stuck. Since his previous efforts clearly weren’t enough, Adam’s next idea was to use dish soap and some “gentle pulling” to ease them apart manually.
Finally, it was a success—and all three squirrels were finally free! Afterward, Adam let them rest in the bucket, which they seemed to appreciate. He continued to pull apart the nesting material and took photos to compare the nest’s size to the squirrels.
Adam then prepared to release the trio back into the wild. The first squirrel ran right up his arm and into the tree behind him, while the second was afraid and immediately scurried off.
The third squirrel, as Adam wrote, “was a total bro and let me take a couple pictures with him.
People on the Internet were similarly excited! Adam received a lot of praise for his quick thinking and brave work. One commenter on Imgur said, “You’re a good man and a beautiful soul.” Seems about right.
These squirrels had a very scary moment before Adam arrived on the scene. If he hadn’t investigated their cries, they may not have made it. He’s is a true hero of the animal kingdom.