When I say the words "Rat King," what comes to mind? For me, it was a cute little Pixar rat wearing a crown and holding a scepter. However, my worldview has been tainted. In actuality, a rat king is a collection of rats whose tails are tangled together. The rat's tails often become stuck together via an entanglement of hair or a sticky substance such as sap or gum. There have been many examples of this phenomenon occurring in nature—however, this is highly speculated. The first examples of rat kings began cropping up during the 1500s and the largest known rat king was found in Germany in 1828, containing an astonishing 32 rats. These rats have been mummified and are currently displayed in the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg.
This phenomenon has occurred in countries around the world and have even included other species, such as squirrels (which are called squirrel kings). Generally, the appearance of a rat king is regarded as a bad omen and often indicates a plague. Because of the superstition behind them, rat kings have been featured prominently in popular culture, such as in Stephen King's "It." We even saw inspiration from this phenomenon in the classic 1816 story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," which depicts a mouse with seven heads.
Rat kings have been depicted frequently throughout art and now, they've even made their way into the tattoo world. We've made a list of some of our favorite tattoo depictions of rat kings, take a peek at our picks and let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section on social media.