Less than 10 percent of more than 1,000 rodents confiscated from Roy’s Aquarium by the Beaufort County Sheriffs Office will be suitable as pets, according to a Florida rodent expert called in to evaluate the animals.
A majority of the rodents — including rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs — are sick and will likely become feeder food for reptiles, Christina Ripley of Josephine’s Rattery & Rescue said as one of the rats climbed across her shoulder.
Another portion of the rodents would not make good pets because they have not been socialized and are likely to bite, Ripley said Saturday.
“If you had a dog that bites you, you are not going to keep him,” Ripley said.
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The rodents were among thousands of animals — including reptiles, fish and birds — confiscated by the Sheriff’s Office during an investigation of neglect and unsanitary conditions that started July 18.
Animal Control Director Tallulah Trice said the pet store had a smell of ammonia that was at a toxic level. She also said there was overcrowding of the animals.
The rodents are the last of the animals still being housed by Animal Control, Trice said Saturday. She said the other animals such as reptiles, fish and birds have already been placed with rescues.
There are few rodent rescues and even less space for a rodent populations of this size, Trice said. She said this is why the county department called in Ripley to help evaluate the animals while they remain in Animal Control’s care.
“This has been the largest seizure we have ever made,” Trice said.
There is a waiting period to evaluate for disease, along with pregnancy, for some of the rodents, Trice said. She said efforts to place the animals will start soon.
Cages and supplies donated by Petco and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will be given away with the rodents for free, Trice said. She said the hope is that maybe teachers in the area will welcome some of the animals into their classrooms.
Others will be able to adopt the pets during a giveaway at Petco in Bluffton on Aug. 19, Trice said.