Hundreds of domestic rats in San Diego are up for adoption after a woman who had previously been caring for them in the van where she was living gave them up.
“Overall, these rats were well cared for and the owner really loved them,” said Nina Thompson, spokesperson for the San Diego Humane Society. “However, her population got out of hand very quickly.”
The woman had been living in a van near a convenience store where she worked after recently becoming homeless. She started with only two pet rats, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. However, those rats began to breed, their offspring began to breed, and the situation quickly became untenable.
Thompson told HuffPost that San Diego Humane originally removed 320 rats, though many of the females were also pregnant. Rats were “in every crevice” from the van, and were “coming and going” from the vehicle, Capt. Danee Cooke of the Humane Society’s law enforcement department told the Tribune. Officials captured as many as they could.
The woman has since found a place to stay, according to the Tribune. She “is not in trouble and will not face any legal consequences,” Thompson told HuffPost, noting that San Diego Humane is glad she surrendered the animals to their care.
A GoFundMe page set up by community members to help the woman topped its goal of $5,000 and said it no longer needs donations.
So far, about 140 rats have undergone veterinary exams and are available for adoption. Ultimately, the plan is to find homes for all of the rats. Thompson noted that her organization will be working with animal rescue groups throughout California.
“Rats make great pets,” she said. “They are social, smart and love to interact with humans.”
Because of their social nature, the rats must be adopted in same-sex pairs unless the person already has a rat at home. Pet rats also need specialized care, including plenty of enrichment and a specific diet.
Adoptable rats can be viewed on the San Diego Humane Society’s website. They are available for at the nonprofit’s locations in Escondido, Oceanside and San Diego, and anyone interested in adopting must go in person to meet with an adoption counselor at one of those places.