Correction: This article was updated on 18th October after Vanessa Hodges Black was incorrectly identified as the individual that owned the van.
A woman living in a van in San Diego with her pet rats has agreed to give them up – all 320 of them.
Carla Sheppard’s van was overrun with rodents, was discovered by the authorities earlier this month.
After several complaints, San Diego Humane Society officers showed and “realised right away the situation was significant,” said Captain Danee Cook.
Authorities in the California city found the rats had clawed into upholstery, burrowed into the seats and gnawed the engine wiring, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“They could tell immediately that it was a huge amount [of rats],” Capt. Cook said.
“They were living out of the van, coming and going.”
Officials said that the woman was not hoarding rats and had only started off with two rodents in her van.
However, rats can give birth every four weeks and produce a dozen every litter.
Capt. Cook says the woman acknowledged that her rat problem had spiralled out of control.
The rats were said to be everywhere, and crawling out of the van’s windows.
Authorities collected about 320 rats, and say that more than 100 are currently ready for adoption.
Many of the rats were pregnant, said officials.
“This was not a cruelty case, this was a relinquishment, an owner asking for help,” Capt. Cook said.
“She was feeding all of them, had water for all of them.”
“This didn’t meet the standards of hoarding.”
The van will be demolished, though some junkyards have refused to take it because of the rats.
The woman, meanwhile, has found a new place to stay - a SUV - thanks to $US5,000 raised through a GoFundMe page.
“She is an amazing person who has had a string of bad luck and if she loses her job it will be devastating to her,” said the page.
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