Woman found living with hundreds of rats, 4 snakes

Woman found living with hundreds of rats, 4 snakes
Michelle Diller stands outside her home.
Warning: Story contains graphic descriptions that some people may find objectionable.

ROCHESTER - Animal control officials say a woman has been found living with hundreds of rats and four malnourished snakes in a home with no running water or heat.

Conditions inside the home in the rural area were "probably the worst I've ever seen," said Erika Quinn-Ellenbecker, field officer with Thurston County Animal Services Director.

Thurston County Animal Services Director Susanne Beauregard says an official from the Area Agency on Aging alerted authorities about a month ago, but the woman, Michelle Diller, has been uncooperative.

One of the rats taken from Diller's home.
On Wednesday a search warrant was obtained and officers entered the home, where found they found rat feces everywhere.

Quinn-Ellenbecker was one of the first to enter the home.

After walking through the door, she said was "overcome with the smell."

She said rat feces covered table tops, floors, chairs - virtually every flat surface in the house. In addition, the carpets were saturated with rat urine, and the air inside the home was heavy with odors and moisture.

There was no electricity in most rooms of the house because the rats had chewed through the wiring. In addition, the sewage had backed up and there was no running water or heat in the home.

Quinn-Ellenbecker said the sound of rats chewing in the walls and floors was a "constant undertone."

Beauregard says two malnourished boa constrictors, a corn snake and a king snake were seized from cages. A cat also was found living in the bedroom.

One of the snakes that was removed from Diller's home.
Diller later explained that she bought some rats to feed to the boa constrictors but they got loose from the containers where she was keeping them. They eventually multiplied and filled the house with their offspring.

Beauregard said she has lost sleep worrying about Diller and her living conditions.

"Somebody's got to help her out," she said.

Diller told KOMO News that she wasn't really bothered much by the rats at first.

"I don't have a problem with any animal," she said.

But eventually she admits they got out of control, and that the house is no longer habitable.

She said she is planning to move out of the home and into an assisted living facility.