ROCHESTER, Wash. - A reclusive, independent woman whose home has been ruined by hundreds of rats she calls "friends" has agreed to move into an assisted living center, and officials were scurrying to find one for her Friday.
Michele Diller, 64, who had rebuffed efforts to help her by a wide range of agencies, changed her mind to regain possession of her cat, which was confiscated along with 11 caged animals -- four severely malnourished snakes, five mice and two rats -- Susanne Beauregard, Thurston County animal services director, said Friday.
The rats, apparently the progeny of a few that escaped after Diller bought them as food for the snakes, have gnawed through wiring, walls, cupboards and drawers, "so there's no lights or heat or sewage" disposal, Beauregard said.
Rats ranging from white laboratory-type rodents to red Norway rats, apparently the result of interbreeding between wild and domesticated animals, were everywhere and could be heard scurrying and gnawing inside the walls.
Cupboards and walls were riddled with rat holes and the bottoms had been chewed out of all the drawers. The refrigerator was on, but otherwise the electricity seemed to be "very spotty. Nothing else worked," she said.