When most people think of household pets, normally a cat or dog is the first thing that comes to mind. For 51-year-old Michele Raybon, this is far from the case.
In 2018, the Palmdale, California, resident started receiving her first few rats. Ever since then, she’s been adding to her pack, now owning a total of 50: 25 males and 25 females.
Michele went viral late last year after she posted a video on Facebook of her rats bathing away in her kitchen sink. The video received more than 350,000 views and plenty of comments to go around.
Michele’s response to the whole matter was simple: “They’re my babies, they can do no wrong.
“They each have their own individual personality so several rats stick out to me more than others.”
She also explained how she got her cuddly critters from a breeder in Texas, but once she moved to California, there were no rat breeders.
“So that’s why I have so many because I bred them for temperament, just so I could sell them to other people who love rats.
“Then I stopped selling them and now they’re my pets, that’s why I have so many. There are a lot of them.”
Along with her 50 rats, Michele also owns four dogs, three cats and two pigs. As an animal lover, she has a whole routine in caring for her animals and makes sure they’re well taken care of.
“I love animals, I wanted to be a vet when I was growing up, but it never happened.
“I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but because I do love animals, I rescue a lot of animals.”
Michele hopes that she can help break the stigma about rats. She said: “Some people have a predisposed idea about rats, they think that they’re dirty, diseased animals.
“All my rats have a good temperament, so I’ll introduce somebody to one of them and I usually win them over, or the rats win them over.
“But some people just can’t get passed the idea of the stigma.
“A lot of people have changed their minds and they surprisingly want them as pets.”