At London's upmarket Hampstead, Veronica Diaz lives with her seven rats, a cat and a hamster. The self-proclaimed "crazy rat lady" reveals in a video to Press Association that the much-maligned rodents are allowed to cuddle with her, crawl over her, and even examine her mouth! For Veronica, these rodents are just like any other pets, and she wants the world to see them as such.
"Keeping rats has been hugely rewarding and fulfilling for me and I would just like others to know that they are not horrible pests - but lovable little animals like any other," says the 44-year-old office manager, defending her rather unusual choice of pets.
Veronica refers to her seven rats as her "fur babies", and they are all friendly with her cat, Loki. When one of them dies, she replaces it with another from a breeder or a rescue centre. Every morning, Veronica gets up at 5.15 am to spend time with her rats before leaving for work.
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