Firefighters save chubby rat trapped in manhole cover

A rotund rat that became stuck while trying to squeeze out of a manhole cover has been saved by rescuers in Germany.

Firefighters responded after the female rodent was spotted in distress in Hochdorf-Assenheim, around 60 miles (96km) south of Frankfurt.

Animal rescuer Michael Sehr told local media the rat "had a lot of winter flab and was stuck fast at her hip - there was no going forward or back".

He said that even animals "that are hated by many deserve respect".

Mr Sehr was not able to release the rat from manhole cover alone and had to wait for the firefighters to step in.

Andreas Steinbach, of the Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar animal rescue group, told Sky News that after it was freed the rat "looked back as if to say 'thanks, and yes, I need to go on a diet!'"

After the rescue, and a few photographs, the rat was released straight back into the sewer.

Pictures and video of the rat struggling to free itself were shared on the animal rescue team's Facebook page.

After receiving some criticism for using taxpayers' money to rescue the rat, a spokesperson for the group said they would "do it again".

"What we find completely unacceptable is the hatred of a small creature and the comments on the killing of the animal.

"Everyone may have their opinion on it, but on our side we do not tolerate any despicable calls for killing an animal," the spokesperson added.

Praising the group's efforts, one Facebook user, Kiky Von Frost, said: "Bad how vicious people are. Every living creature is worth saving.

"Every little mouse has a beating heart, feelings and only this one life!"

Another user, Petra Karlsson, added: "Thank you for rescuing her!

"Rats get such a bad reputation just because they happen to be tough survivors living next to us, but in reality they are highly intelligent, empathetic and loving even towards people if given the chance to trust us!"