DES MOINES, Iowa -- The City of Des Moines says Bill Watkins' southeast side home is such a mess, it isn't even safe for 46 of his pet rats to stay there. They were removed this week.
Watkins misses them. "I'll lay in bed with one of the rats and it's just, they run around. They know their own name. So I'll call them and they'll come back up."
Watkins says he originally got a few rats for his teenage daughter, they seem to help her with her bi-polar disorder. Then, he says, things kind of got out of hand, forcing the city to step in. "(It) really affected my daughter. Of course, that's who the rats are for. And admittedly we did have a lot more rats that we probably should have," Watkins says.
Watkins says the city allowed him to keep 10 rats, all female so they can't reproduce. He admits, with 50-plus rats in the house, sometimes they were hard to care for. "Oh, once in a while. We'd go get like cheap cereal and that works. Dog food."
Watkins says he'll do anything to get his rats back. He's even started cleaning up his house the way the city wants it cleaned up.
"Yes. My...my wife is not one of the best housekeepers and neither am I. Right now she's not feeling very good," Watkins says, "I'm willing to do anything they ask. They've asked to have the house cleaned up. I'm willing to do that."
The city does not put limits on how many rats a person can own, as long as those rats are taken care of. Watkins and his family are not expected to face any charges.