Ratte steckt im Gulli fest: German firefighters save fat rat stuck in a manhole cover

February 27, 2019 • 7:45 am

What a great country is Deutschland! I can’t imagine any place where a huge rescue effort would be mounted, involving multiple firefighters with fancy equipment, to save an obese rat stuck in a manhole cover (should it be “personhole” now?). But the Germans stepped up!

Courtesy of alert reader Jószef, we have a lovely BBC article and video showing that die Deutschen win the prize for best First Rat Responders (click on screenshot):

An excerpt:

In the German town of Bensheim, rescue workers got an unusual call – a chubby rat needed help after getting stuck halfway out of a sewer manhole.

“She had a lot of winter flab and was stuck fast at her hip – there was no going forward or back,” animal rescuer Michael Sehr told local media.

A fairly large rescue operation ensued – leading some to question why all the effort was spent on saving a sewer rat.

“Even animals that are hated by many deserve respect,” Mr Sehr responded. [JAC: Yes!!!]

Volunteer firefighters reacted to a call on Sunday afternoon, the local fire department said, and noted the “animal rescue, small animal” code.

Mr Sehr, from the local professional animal rescue in Rhein Neckar, was already there – but could not free the chunky rodent from the top of the manhole cover.

Eight firefighters and Mr. Sehr worked together, using wedges, lifters, and a rat-restraining noose, to free the distressed and squeaking creature (you can hear its heartrending squeals in the 5-minute rescue video below):

Many people would have ignored or even killed this rat, but I’m touched by people’s effort, ultimately successful, to save the life of one trapped rodent.

My only beef is that they put the rat back in the sewer after rescuing it. What if it tries to crawl out again?

UPDATE: Grania found a tweet from a journalist that lauds the BBC for its stuck-rat coverage, but then notes that there was once a rescue of a fat SQUIRREL! In fact, I found that I wrote about this in 2016.


33 thoughts on “Ratte steckt im Gulli fest: German firefighters save fat rat stuck in a manhole cover

    1. I’m struck by the similarity of the German to its English equivalent despite a thousand years of separation. I presume Gulli is related to gully trap, the basin set in the ground which transfers roof and waste water from the house to the sewage system.

    1. It IS instinctive and can account for the fact that humans get along as well as they do. Empathy for a creature in trouble is adaptive as kin selection but can be co-oped for the good of the whole living community. Less successful hypotheses include group selection and God’s grace.

  1. Is this a metaphor for the predicament Trump is in? What with Michael Cohen on the stand today before Congress….

  2. Is it woke to be still calling it a “manhole” cover? Shouldn’t it be called a “personhole” or maybe simply a “sewer access cover”. I think this warrants the convening of a panel.

      1. Let’s hope they burned their gloves, as they will undoubtedly be soaked in the spirochaetes that cause leptospirosis after handling a wild rat.
        I saw a case of leptospiral meningitis once many years ago in a sewer worker. Not pleasant.

  3. I’m mystified, cites spend a lot of money on exterminating vermin. Why then spend additional money releasing rats that get stuck and returning them to the population that they are trying to eradicate? Perhaps it’s just a function of growing up in a rural environment but my reaction to a stationary rat is decapitation.

    1. Entirely logical. But sometimes if you get a spider or centipede in the house, you just kindly let it go outside. We must follow the whims of our feelings, and sometimes we just don’t feel like killing rats.

    2. That would be openly admitting and even proving that we kill things. There’s a taboo about that, especially if you kill things on camera.

        1. Sadly, a brief investigation suggests that while ‘rat porn’ is a searchable phrase, in all examples found so far ‘rat’ was just being used in some metaphorical sense.



    3. “Why then spend additional money releasing rats that get stuck and returning them to the population that they are trying to eradicate?”

      Perhaps this goes to show that impersonal genocide is just easier than one-on-one murder.

    4. Since my country was let into the EU, we got a heavy dose of strange animal welfare laws, such as, stray dogs are not to be euthanized but to be caught, neutered and released back into the street (where they of course prey on humans, but humans are not considered important anymore). A friend of mine joked that the next decree will be not to kill captured rats but to catch, neuter and release them.

  4. Had I been a resident of that town, I’d be pissed if taxpayer money had been spent to rescue disease spreading vermin. A quick mercy killing would’ve been in order.

    1. To all those, who bother with the financial dimension: look upon the action as a training under realistic conditions. In case of someone who may need help in a similar situation, it should pay out very well.

  5. I love it. I had pet rats as a kid and my daughter has one now. Amazing creatures. Extremely intelligent for rodents.

  6. Years ago I rescued a baby skunk that had gotten stuck just before its hips in a chain link fence. When I happened upon it I remembered that young skunks are not able to spray (this one didn’t in any case). I also realized that its hips were a lot wider than the front part of its body. I put my opened hand in front of its face and it retreated from the hand by backing up, freeing itself in the process. I was a bit surprised that helping this young creature was so easy.

  7. Putting it back in the sewer seems like a bad move. There must be some humans who would like to adopt that rat.

    We had a pet rat once. It liked to play tug-of-war with our cat, with a string hanging out of the rat cage. Hilarity ensues!

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