Five juvenile grey squirrels were found in their nest by a “caring finder” in Wisconsin, USA on Saturday. The tiny rodents were found with their tails all tangled together, and with material from the nest their mother had built for them. It ended up being a giant knot of tails, grass and plastic, meaning the stressed kits couldn’t leave the nest.

The Good Samaritan who found the young squirrels took them to the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. They have now been safely separated from each other and so far most seem to be fine, despite their entangled experience.

Squirrels were anaesthetised to separate them

As reported by KSTP, on arrival at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, animal carers had the difficult task of separating the young squirrels. They wrote on their Facebook page that the squirrels were “wiggly and unruly,” adding that they were also “nippy.” The rodents were distressed and frightened, so the centre had to anaesthetize all five kits, in order to separate them.

Once the squirrels were knocked out, workers at the centre began working to unravel what they called the “Gordian knot” of their tails and material from the nest. They wrote that initially, it was almost impossible to know which tail belonged to which squirrel and they were concerned that the kits had suffered from tissue damage to their little tails from “circulatory impairment” from the tangled knot.

It took 20 minutes to carefully unravel the knot of tails and nest material, after which the rodents were left to recover from their anaesthetization.

‘Bright-eyed’ and mostly ‘bushy-tailed’

The following day, the centre says all squirrels were “bright-eyed” and that three of five siblings were “bushy-tailed.” The other two were slowly recovering from their experience.

The centre said they needed to monitor all the baby squirrels for a day or two in case they suffer tail necrosis from the “impaired blood flow” while they were knotted together.

The Guardian reports that grey squirrels belong to the rodent family and can grow up to 21 inches (50 cm) in length as adults. They are seen throughout the US state of Wisconsin, especially in mature hardwood forested areas where they dine on hickory nuts, acorns and walnuts, and occasionally get into a tangled knot.

Other squirrel-related news

Another baby squirrel-related story happened in Germany recently, where a tiny rodent became separated from his mother. The squirrel took a liking to a passing pedestrian and wouldn’t leave the poor man alone, following him everywhere.

The man got increasingly nervous, as the baby squirrel kept tailing him and called the police for their help. Apparently, the police waited until the exhausted squirrel fell asleep before capturing him. They said orphaned squirrels tend to latch on to someone as a potential new mother and they are “very persistent” when they do.