Five young gray squirrel siblings were recently rescued in Wisconsin after they were found with their tails all knotted up in a bunch.
The juvenile squirrels had all become hopelessly entangled with the long-stemmed grasses and strips of plastic their mother used as nest material, as well as with each other, when a keen-eyed passerby found them and called the Wisconsin Human Society in Milwaukee for help.
According to the rescue group, without careful and quick intervention, the squirrels would have likely lost their tails and maybe even their lives.
"You can imagine how wiggly and unruly (and nippy!) this frightened, distressed ball of squirrelly energy was, so our first step was to anesthetize all five of them at the same time," the rescue group wrote on Facebook. "With that accomplished, we began working on unraveling the 'Gordian Knot.'"
The Gordian knot is part of a legend associated with Alexander the Great and has since come to be used to describe a problem situation with no clear solution.
Thankfully, rescuers were able to solve this one, though it took some doing.
It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose and rescuers became increasingly concerned because all the squirrels had suffered varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment.
Bit by bit, they snipped away at the grass-and-plastic knot with scissors, being very careful to make sure they weren't snipping anyone's tail in the process.
It took about 20 minutes to free the young squirrels. And soon after they began to recover from anesthesia.
Just one day later, they were all back to their youthful squirrel selves but remained under watch at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Human Society in order to diagnose any tail necrosis caused by impaired blood flow.