Nantes' Natural History Museum – Nantes, France - Atlas Obscura
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Nantes, France

Nantes' Natural History Museum

When science meets myth: The 'Rat King' of Nantes. 

Created at the end of 1800s, this beautiful museum has a rich collection of both minerals and animals (skeletons and taxidermy) and a nice vivarium. The collection of bird taxidermy is especially rich with some rare and fascinating specimen. Among the rarities is a hidden treasure — an extremely rare and even mythical phenomenon known as the “Rat King”.

It is said in folklore that sometimes a group of rats can get their tails knotted together in an inextricable way. They will spend the rest of their lives joined together, sometimes even getting their skin welded together, becoming a kind of monstrous single entity dependent on its community for food.

Most reported cases have occurred in Germany, and only a handful of cases can be found in museums, including this one consisting of nine rats preserved in an alcohol bath. This phenomenon is unexplained and the specimens are often considered as hoaxes and belonging to the field of cryptozoology.

Pictures and filming are allowed in this museum.

Know Before You Go

It's not allowed to bring any luggage (bigger bags/backpacks) to the museum. There are no lockers and they won't let you leave the bag in the ticket office. Be sure to leave any luggage somewhere else before visiting.