She’s got a soft spot for vermin.
A so-called extreme rodent fanatic has gone viral after bathing her 50 rat “babies” in her kitchen sink.
Michele Raybon, 51, of Palmdale, California, hasn’t stopped collecting pet rats since she got her first bunch in 2018. Now, the 50 “cuddly” pets splash in her kitchen sink when it’s bathtime.
The rat-lover calls the furry friends her “babies,” despite some of them — 25 males and 25 females — not being as friendly as others.
“They each have their own individual personality so several rats stick out to me more than others,” she said. “They’re very social and when you feed them, they all come running.”
She got the rambunctious rats from a breeder in Texas, but upon moving to California, realized there were no rat breeders in the area. What began as an endeavor to sell rats to other rodent lovers turned into an endless love affair with the critters.
“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,” she said. “Then I stopped selling them and now they’re my pets, that’s why I have so many. There are a lot of them.”
But Raybon doesn’t just stop at rodents: She’s an avid animal lover who owns four German shepherds, three cats and two pigs, which live in a barn. She’s previously owned two sheep, two goats, 25 chickens and 15 ducks and geese, only parting ways with them due to being disabled from time spent in the Army.
“I used to rescue cats, feral cats, I took care of them and rehomed them. I really do have a heart for animals,” she said.
While she wanted to become a veterinarian growing up, it just never happened. So she opts for rescuing animals instead.
“I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but because I do love animals, I rescue a lot of animals,” she said. “I do tend to rescue animals, so my ex-husband calls me Dr. Dolittle. I take care of them; I take them to the vet.”
When guests enter Raybon’s home, they’re usually shocked by the sheer number of rodents, but Raybon claims her babies win them over — despite some being apprehensive.
“Some people have a predisposed idea about rats, they think that they’re dirty, diseased animals,” she said. “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.”
While some people can’t “get past the stigma” of rats as home pets, Raybon has successfully changed the minds of some doubtful visitors.
“A lot of people have changed their minds and they surprisingly want them as pets.”