We spoke to the Soton student who’s created ‘Portswood rat sanctuary’ in her uni house

‘I always thought I’d end up being a cat lady but I guess I can be a rat lady instead!’

A Soton third year has created a “rat sanctuary” for Southampton’s rats in her Portswood house.

Rachel Simms created a rat sanctuary in her garden on Avenue Road after she saw her neighbour kill one on their driveway.

Rachel told us: “I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. If I could create a space in my garden that means they can eat, drink and bathe then they would be safer and have less chance of being killed.

“I understand not everyone likes rats, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be treated so badly. I walked out one day and my neighbour was hitting one with a broomstick. I was shocked.”

She set about building the sanctuary in June last year using little containers to hold water and food. Since then she has invested in a variety of foods that she puts out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“It’s good to stay in a routine and give them a range of nutrients to keep them healthy. I buy special rat nuggets to give them at dinner and then a variety of fruit, veg and beans for breakfast and lunch.”

On average, it costs Rachel £15 a week to run the sanctuary but she believes it’s “worth every penny.”

Rachel has even rescued a rat from her friends house after they found it running round their bedroom.

“It was hard trying to handle him safely but we bribed him out with cheese in the end. I made sure he was washed and fed when we got to the sanctuary and now I think he’s even made some friends.

“I’ve named him Spear because we found him on Spear Road.”

Spear when he was first found


“I get weird looks when I tell people about it, but I know I am doing something right by the rats. I always thought I’d end up being a cat lady but I guess I can be a rat lady instead!”

Rachel also told the Soton Tab that she sees over 50 different rats a day on average using her sanctuary and feels a sense of pride when her regulars come back.

We spoke to Rachel’s housemate Tom about the situation and he said: “It’s weird that she thought of it but we’ve definitely seen less rats in the house and so have the neighbours. Not sure what’s going to happen when we move out but I guess that’s not really my problem.”

By the way, check out the date!