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'Rat Girl' breeds, unleashes rats across San Francisco

'Rat Girl' Breeds, Unleashes Rats Across San Francisco
San Francisco is in the midst of a rat problem, and one woman's rodent obsession might be partly to blame.

"Authorities say a woman living in a residential hotel has been breeding them. And then releasing them into the public. Police say when they last checked she was living with 300 rats in deplorable living conditions." (Via KNTV)

KTVU obtained this 2011 footage of a rat-infested hotel room, which was formerly occupied by a 43-year-old woman known as "Erica J." or informally, "Rat Girl." San Francisco's animal control department says Erica compulsively breeds the rats, which then infest wherever she lives.

The city's Public Safety Department ultimately had to exterminate over one thousand rats in that hotel. Since then, animal control officers have been confiscating Erica's rats when they can, but they say she always seems to find more.

Since just one breeding pair of rats can produce up to 15,000 descendants in a year, according to National Geographic, Rat Girl's furry friends are causing a major headache for the city.

An animal control official told KTVU prosecuting Erica is unlikely to solve the problem.

"I believe that there's a serious underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed. ... I can only imagine that this situation is probably going to continue wherever she lives until she gets the help that she needs."

Attempts to intervene on the woman have been futile, according to NBC Bay Area: "Authorities say the woman moves when she is confronted about the problem."

And in case you need a reminder of why Rat Girl's hobby is a dangerous public health issue, the CDC has a comprehensive list of all the nasty diseases rats can carry. Ick.

Animal control has been able to adopt out some of Erica's confiscated rats which had already been domesticated - feral or diseased rats were euthanized.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
satorii1s June 01 2014 at 8:03 PM

Pet (domestic) Rats are not diseased at all, infact all Rats are only as clean as their environment. You try running around on all fours with your belly dragging on the ground and see how you fare cleanliness wise.
Having Raised (but not been a breeder) of Rats for over 20 years (have not had them in a few because have a couple of Cats now) I can attest to their cleanliness. I have spent more to keep my Rats alive then people do to exterminate them, and I loved every moment of it. When any person abuses an animal (and that's what this lady is doing) I get mad. Why make a creature that already has bad press even more insidious then people already think it is?
Rats have survived nuclear blasts (Survival of Rats at Eniwetok Atoll.) Could you?
Give them the respect they deserve, yes many wild Rats have diseases but usually no more then most wild animals, and human habitations are infested with much more then just Rats, and these creatures have as many or more diseases.

Flag Reply +31 rate up
15 replies
colloc June 01 2014 at 7:16 PM

They should make her pay for the clean up. If she can't then she goes to the pokey.

Flag Reply +28 rate up
1 reply
rjackson2a colloc June 02 2014 at 10:27 AM

There is some good logic. If she can't afford tp pay then spend more money on her by housing her in jail. You must be a politician.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Lana June 01 2014 at 8:25 PM

Good grief, in this case there should be a law that criminalizes this behavior. It's a public health problem and the woman needs to be treated. Don't know if that would help, but some way she needss to be isolated.

Flag Reply +25 rate up
Bob June 01 2014 at 8:19 PM

She should be locked up.................................................

Flag Reply +20 rate up
1 reply
jlegrande44 Bob June 01 2014 at 10:57 PM

No, the Duggars should be locked up.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
4 replies
TripleXKimberly June 01 2014 at 7:25 PM

How disgusting! I hope she got checked for some of those diseases and she gets the mental help she desperately needs.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
larry June 01 2014 at 8:35 PM

Are people really this crazy ???

Flag Reply +16 rate up
4 replies
napa422 June 01 2014 at 8:11 PM

I thought Ssn Fransicko was already overrun with RODENTS

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
lastofthe2 June 01 2014 at 7:45 PM

Throw her butt in jail as a health hazard.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
bobsadmassistco lastofthe2 June 01 2014 at 9:58 PM

Yeah, but then she'd spread the disease to other inmates - oh, wait, that's a good idea.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
kelly.kitman lastofthe2 June 01 2014 at 11:25 PM

Anyone who does this needs help not incarceration. All you care about is your welfare. What about hers. Mental illness is an illness and should be treated as such.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
3 replies
wboozer@mail.com June 02 2014 at 12:39 AM

Why not identify this woman so that others will not rent to her?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
DPU3JWALLACE June 01 2014 at 11:25 PM

An animal control official told KTVU prosecuting Erica is unlikely to solve the problem. -- IF She Is Incarcerated Or Put in a Secure Mental Institution As a Public Menace, It Would Seem That Her Rat-Breeding Activities Will Be Brought To an IMMEDIATE HALT -- Regardless of What This Animal Control Officer Says!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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