A group of baby squirrels abandoned on train tracks in Connecticut and tied together by their tails was not the “squirrel king” phenomenon but rather a bizarre case of animal abuse, an animal hospital said Thursday.
The four squirrels were recovering following the untangling procedure, but their tails were broken and may need to be amputated, the Kensington Bird and Animal Hospital in Berlin wrote on Facebook. They said one baby already had its tail partially amputated.
The animal hospital southwest of Hartford acknowledged that some cases of baby squirrels getting their tails in a knot have taken place naturally in the wild, but this was not one of them.
“The tails were broken and braided together as well as tied together by a human-made object,” the hospital wrote. “Where these babies were found was also an indicator of animal cruelty.”
The “squirrel king” phenomenon is a natural, though rare occurrence in which baby squirrels’ tails are fused together in one of several possible ways, most commonly by building material from the nests where they were born, according to Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control.
The strange spectacle made national headlines last year when a Nebraska man snapped a photo of six baby squirrels engaged in a tug of war because their tails had become knotted from sticky tree sap.
Workers treated and later released those squirrels back into the wild.
The four baby animals in Connecticut were “doing well” with a licensed rehabilitator and have started to eat, according to the hospital.
The case has been reported to authorities, they said.