ST. PETERSBURG -- A St. Petersburg woman’s home is infested with her “pet” rats.
Florine Brown, 29, is hoarding up to 500 of the rodents. They run freely through her 10th Avenue South home. They live in the walls, ceiling, drawers, furniture and even under the sink.
“It got out of control,” said Brown. “I started off with five pets and they kept breeding and breeding and I kept feeding them.”
A relative called the animal shelter and reported the hoarding. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Tampa Bay is helping Brown remove the rats. They have taken about 100 out of the home so far.
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Brown said she has to remove all the rats and clean up the property or she could face misdemeanor charges.
“I’m trying to catch them so they don’t get killed when I fumigate," she said. “I’m trying to find good homes for them.”
Brown said she loves the rodents. She feeds them oatmeal every day. Rat dropping are everywhere and the stench is overpowering.
“When my grandfather died, the rats helped me deal with the grief,” said Brown. “Most people hate them, but I love them and want to save them.”
It’s possible the SPCA will eventually put some of the healthy rats up for adoption.