A fat rat has been rescued in Germany after getting itself stuck in a manhole cover.
The helpless, overweight rodent was spotted on Sunday afternoon in the small town of Bensheim near Frankfurt, attempting to hoist itself through a gap in a manhole too narrow for it to pass through.
Animal rescuer Michael Sehr was dispatched following a call from a passer-by but initially found no way to lift the cover of the manhole and push the rat out from the other side.
An entire team of volunteer firefighters was called out to lend a hand.
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With the large rescue party present Sehr took out his catch pole and restrained the rat amidst loud squeaks of protest.
This way, the firefighters, several armed with crowbars, were able to lift the manhole cover in relative safety and prop it into place against some large rubber wedges.
It took them several attempts and repositionings of the heavy manhole cover, but eventually Sehr was able, using only his gloved hands, to force the rat's sizable backside out through the small gap.
As the delicate operation unfolded, some of the firefighters took photographs and videos, having already done as much as they could to help. Once free, the rat was promptly returned to the sewer.
Sehr did not go home empty handed that evening. The girl who initially found the rat rewarded him with a picture she drew of the animal surrounded by love-hearts.
The reactions on the Rhein Neckar Animal Rescue Facebook page saw one or two commenters questioning the wisdom of expending so much manpower to help the creature and in doing so contribute to "Germany's well-known rat problem".
The vast majority, however, praised the emergency services for their humanity in not leaving "Herr Ratte" to his fate.