Washington A woman bought rats as food for her pet snakes but eventually came to think of them as "friends" and allowed them to breed and overrun her house, which will need to be razed, officials said Friday.
The rats have gnawed through wiring, walls, cupboards and drawers, "so there's no lights or heat or sewage" disposal, said Susanne Beauregard, Thurston County animal services director, on Friday.
Michele Diller, 64, who had rebuffed agencies' efforts to help her, agreed to move into an assisted living center to get her cat back, Beauregard said. The cat had been confiscated along with 11 caged animals - four severely malnourished snakes, five mice and two rats.
"I told her I would let her have her cat back if she agreed to move," Beauregard told The Associated Press.
Agencies were seeking housing for Diller on Friday and considering what to do about the rats, which have begun turning up in neighbors' yards.