It was a strange sight: six otherwise adorable squirrels with their tails fused together. The “squirrel kings” formation, as it’s called, resulted in the rodents connected to each other from behind, unable to escape their bonds and headed for death or dismemberment.
The squirrels were lucky to be discovered by a caring individual who brought them to the Animal Clinic of Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan, where employees were able to methodically separate the squirrels from each other without permanently damaging them.
“It just doesn’t happen too often,” Dr. Steven Kruzeniski told Metro Canada. “It’s a pretty rare thing to see, but I have seen it happen once before.”
So how exactly did the young squirrels end up physically bound to each other? Kruzeniski said they were likely all resting near each other in a pine tree when sap dripped onto their tails and fused them together as it hardened and grafted with their fur.
After the squirrels were brought into the clinic, the team of veterinarians sedated them and removed their matted tail fur. During the procedure, the squirrels appeared to rest peacefully, with their mouths hanging open and their forearms curled up. The entire procedure reportedly lasted about 20 minutes.
After the successful separation, the squirrels were given antibiotics and monitored for a few days. The vets fed and hydrated the animals to make sure they were nursed back to full health and had not suffered any infections as a result of the procedure. Finally, they were all released back into the city’s green space.
"If they get really tangled up, they generally can't feed as effectively, and their tails can become infected and have to be amputated," Kruzeniski said. "In this case their tails were a bit raw, but they weren't too bad and we were able to save all of them."