That Gnawing Feeling
A rescue effort at a California home removes 2,000 rats
It started with one rat. One pregnant rat.
A young girl—the daughter of a man in Llano, Calif.—brought the pet rodent home from her classroom, not knowing the little creature was expecting. She and her father soon found themselves caring for a mama rat and her pups, but didn’t act quickly to separate the rats by gender, thus ushering in a period of free love, and, given the fertile nature of rats, babies. Lots and lots of babies.
Some got loose, and, within two years, the lone mama rat and her offspring had become an extended family numbering in the thousands. Rats got into every crack and crevice of the house—gnawing, burrowing, pooping—and before long, the house was nearly destroyed.
When rats escaped the confines of the house and started overrunning the property, the man’s neighbors got involved. Rather than contacting animal control, though, they reached out to the company that produces Hoarders, an A&E reality show about people overwhelmed by the things they collect—some by inanimate possessions, others by pets.
That call set in motion a major rescue effort in November involving staff and dozens of volunteers from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), United Animal Nations, Bay Area-based North Star Rescue, and Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose.