A 29-year-old Leighton schizophrenic, who claimed that his pet rats talked to him, has been found guilty of animal cruelty after one was found with four shattered legs.
RSPCA inspectors called at Adam Cheeseborough’s Hockliffe Road flat after reports of a rodent infestation. They found, Luton Magistrates Court heard on Thursday, up to 80 rats running loose through every room and there was an overpowering smell of urine and faeces.
But worst of all was a rat whose four limbs were broken and turned the wrong way around, with the bone jutting through its wounds. It was so traumatised that it was unable to squeak and could only move by crawling on his bare bones.
He later had to be put to sleep by a vet.
Cheeseborough appeared in court charged with one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a rat by failing to provide veterinary care and two charges of failing to meet the welfare needs of two other rats. He denied all three charges which had been brought by the RSPCA.
he animal’s owner told inspectors that the rat had jumped out of a third-floor window. He wasn’t found until the next day and Cheeseborough refused to take it to the vets because he feared the pet would be put down.
As the inspectors collected the flat’s rats they found one on Cheeseborough’s bed suffering with a lump and another behind a piece of furniture with half its tail missing and the stump looking red and swollen. It was later operated on but suffered a heart attack and died. None of the animals had previously received veterinary treatment.
Cheeseborough told the court that he had kept rats for up to 15 years, slept and bathed with them and even took them out with him to the shops.
“I had more than 70 rats and I loved them all. I kept the females in one cage and the males in another and I’d let out one cage at a time to allow them to run around.
“Somehow, one night, one of the male rats got out through the window and I found it the next morning in the grass. I thought that it was waiting for me.
“I picked him up and didn’t think anything was wrong with him. When I got back to the flat I realised that he couldn’t walk but I was nurturing him back to health. If he’d been in pain or squeaking I would have taken him to the vets.
“When the RSPCA came to take my rats I cried all day and night.”
Referring to the rat with the lump he said: “I can communicate with them and she told me that she didn’t like being left in a cage and she didn’t want to go to the vets. I told the RSPCA inspector who came to take them away. He felt it and said I could keep her and that there was nothing wrong with her.”
Talking about the rat with half a tail Cheeseborough said: “I had so many rats. One had a bad tail. I don’t know what happened. I saw that it was sore so I kept it clean and treated it myself. He seemed quite happy. I didn’t think there was anything that a vet could do for it.”
The case was adjourned until June 18 for sentencing.