Police who went to a home in Waukesha, Wis., yesterday to carry out a "well-being check" were hit with the overwhelming smell of ammonia—and quickly realized that smell was thanks to animal urine from the 331 chinchillas living in cages on the first floor. The house was also "unkempt," as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel puts it, and there were almost two dozen dead chinchillas in it as well. The Fire Department determined the home was uninhabitable after assessing the ammonia levels, and the 331 living chinchillas were taken in by the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.
The adult residents of the home confessed to breeding the small rodents for sale; they planned to get a hotel while the home was aired out. A child living in the home is staying elsewhere, WISN reports. An investigation is underway and city health and building inspectors will probably get involved, but it's not clear if a criminal investigation will factor into the situation. As for the Humane Society, the influx of rodents—plus two cats that were also removed from the home—has required it to call in extra help. (Even worse: this January 2014 story about a house full of dead and dying snakes.)