A woman has told how she loves rats more than people, including her estranged husband.Chantal Banks, who stars in an upcoming episode of TLC's My Crazy Obsession, has a total of 19 long-tailed friends - which she describes as children - in her two-bedroom home.She lets each of the rodents lick her lips, nibble food from her mouth and run across her while she sleeps.
Her rat mania started when she was just 16 years old.'When you find your purpose in life you know it, and that’s what happened to me when I saw the first rat,' she said in a preview of the TLC show.
|Comfortable lifestyle: Mrs Banks has created hammocks inside the cages for the rat|
'I’ve had them pretty much ever since and I’ll never be without them.'Mrs Banks found someone who was able to deal with her love of rats and for 11 years she was married to Chester.
The couple have a son together, Kevin, who says: 'I grew up with siblings and they were rats.'But now Mrs Banks' obsession has spiraled out of control, her marriage has hit the rocks and she has moved out of the family home.
'Chantal would go out and buy two or three rats for whatever reason and then I’d find out about it later... I didn't want any rats,' Mr Banks explains. While he is hopeful that his spouse will stop hitting the pet store, Mrs Banks says the relationship is well and truly over.'My husband didn’t really want to take care of my rats anymore and it was very demoralizing and it was very difficult,' she recalls.'My husband will never have the type of bond that I have with my rats.'
Now living alone in her own apartment Mrs Banks dedicates much of her time to her little furry pets.Each rat has human name such as Lily and Janice, which apparently reflect their personality.'Burka likes to eat but he doesn’t like to exercise. Janice loves to kiss, Lilly is my jumper.' the mother-of-one chimes.While she likes eating with them and teaching them tricks she also delights in 'huffing' them.The act involves her enthusiastically nuzzling the rodent's belly.
Dealing with the rodent mania: Mrs Banks' husband Chester (left) has had enough of the rats, while her son Kevin is quite fond of them and describes them as his siblings (right)
'It smells good, it smells like nachos!' she exclaims.When she doesn't see her rats for a while she says that she suffers from GGMR, standing for 'I Gotta Get More Rats.'Summarizing her obsession she says: 'I love rats more than I love people. I can’t live without them. 'My rats love me, they don’t judge me. They love me for who I am. When I cry they lick my tears.'