Woman evicted after keeping hundreds of pet rats - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Woman evicted after keeping hundreds of pet rats

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PORTAGE COUNTY (WAOW) -

A Portage County woman has been evicted from her home for what authorities call a shocking problem. Hundreds of pet rats were found inside a mobile home in the Town of Plover.

Darlene Flatoff was given her first pet rat as a gift. But, over the years authorities say the rats have multiplied.

"They've chewed out the floor boards," Exterminator Matthew Schneider.

One rat turned into hundreds.

"It shocked me a little bit because usually people don't have that many rats for pets," Schneider said.

"You could see them in the windows, that's how many there were," Park Manager Miguel Lopeez said. "The smell is just unbearable."

Court documents lay out this story that started in December. Portage County Sheriff's officers were told about a severe case of rodent infestation at Flatoff's mobile home in the Town of Plover. They say after warning Flatoff several times to get rid of the rats, she was evicted. The Town of Plover condemned the property.

"The residents were worried, but we were on top of this since day one," Lopeez said.

Now Flatoff's trailer sits empty, except for the rats.

"My plan of attack is to set up a whole mess of live traps in there," Schneider said. "I'm going to live trap them and then put them to sleep."      

Schneider owns Schneider's Wildlife Control. He says in his nearly 20 years, he's never seen anything quite like this.

"The odor was rather potent. I mean, I just walked in the front door I didn't walk any further and the smell was overpowering."

Authorities say roughly 300 rats lived with Flatoff at one time. But now only a few dozen can be seen.

"When you get to this amount of infestation, they're going to do a ton of damage," Schneider said.

Newsline 9 tried to contact Flatoff but she couldn't be reached for comment. According to court documents, Flatoff said the rats were her friends and didn't cause any harm.

Still, Sheriff's officers say that's no way to live. And now, clean-up begins.

And the exterminator has a big task ahead of him.

Authorities say Flatoff is living with a friend in the southern part of the state. Meanwhile, Town of Plover officials are trying to decide what will happen to the mobile home.

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