BENSHEIM (Germany) • Animal rescuers and firefighters in the German town of Bensheim raced to an unusual call for help this week, when a chubby rat with a bit too much winter flab became wedged in the hole of a manhole cover.
The rotund rodent has now made headlines across the world after the local animal rescue group - Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar - posted photos of the rat's unfortunate situation on Facebook.
According to the Facebook post, a young girl had spotted the helpless rat on Sunday afternoon and alerted the group.
Animal rescuer Michael Sehr told local media that he tried to free the rat himself but to no avail.
He then called in the volunteer fire department from nearby Auerbach.
Referring to the rat, Mr Sehr said: "She had a lot of winter flab and was stuck fast at her hip - there was no going forward or back."
In a video shared by the group on YouTube, the chunky animal is shown flailing its arms and squeaking in distress.
A close-up photo showing the rat with its mouth agape has also tickled social media users, who said that they could relate to the tubby critter.
Nine volunteer firefighters could be seen arriving at the scene to lift the manhole cover, before Mr Sehr was able to release the rodent and drop it back down the sewer.
The Auerbach volunteer fire department said on its Facebook page that the rescue operation was completed in a short time. It added that the rat was unharmed.
After the successful operation, the young girl was pictured thanking the rescuers with a drawing filled with hearts.
Many social media users applauded them for their compassion towards a creature that is typically viewed as a nuisance.
Facebook user Carly Stevens wrote: "Thank you for your kindness to that little one."
Another Facebook user, Anita Morris, said the worth of a human is shown by how he treats "the seemingly worthless".
In response, Mr Sehr said: "Even animals that are hated by many deserve respect."