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Fat rat saved from manhole by German animal rescue

A rat looks directly at the camera with half its body emerging from a ventilation hole - and its belly spilling over the sides around the middle Image copyright Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar
Image caption The unfortunate rat was almost - but not quite - small enough for its bolthole

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.

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.

Image copyright Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar
Image caption It took about eight firefighters and an animal expert to put the sewer rat back where it belongs

With the help of a full team of firefighters, the manhole cover was lifted and propped on wedges while Mr Sehr managed to pop the rotund rat free.

She was released straight back into the sewer - but not before some close-up photographs were snapped.

Once uploaded to the animal rescue team's Facebook page, they attracted hundreds of comments applauding the care given to an animal that is more often targeted for extermination.

For Mr Sehr, however, there was no charge for the finder of this animal in distress - but he did receive a hand-drawn picture of the rat, surrounded by hearts, from the little girl who first found the distressed and squeaking creature.

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