You’ve heard of the cat in the hat, but have you heard the one about the fat rat stuck in the manhole cover? Because that’s exactly what German animal rescuers found earlier this week.

A little girl in the town of Bensheim saw the chubby female rat struggling to escape from one of the smaller openings in the manhole cover.

Due to the rodent’s excessive amount of “winter flab”, she was unable to bring her hips through the grate.

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By the time the little girl’s family had called firefighters to the scene, local animal rescuer Michael Sehr was already struggling to free the fat critter – but to no avail.

The firefighters then pried open the manhole cover and kept it supported while Sehr gently worked the rotund rat loose from the other side.

After a surprising amount of difficulty, the crew was finally able to safely extract the rat and set her free back into the sewer.

Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar, the animal organization that Sehr works for, later posted photos of the rescue operation to social media earlier this week.

Some people have shared the viral photos so they can praise the rescuers for their compassion towards a humble sewer rat; others were simply amused by the concept of a chubby critter finding itself in such a predicament.

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But when Sehr was asked why so many people had worked so hard to save a rat, he simply told local reporters that “even animals that are hated by many deserve respect.”

The photos have since been shared thousands of times – and if the pictures of the rat weren’t cute enough, the rescue organization also included a photo of Sehr being given a drawing of the rat from the little girl who found it.

Sehr’s services are always free of charge, but he says that the heart-filled picture was payment enough.

(WATCH the rescue mission below)

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