Can Rats Come Up Through Your Toilet?

While this is not a great question like; “why do I exist?” or “why do cars speed up when I’m trying to pass them?” it is however one that has intrigued mankind probably not to long after the flush toilet was invented.

We know that rats are excellent climbers but did you know they can tread water for up to 3 days? Or that they can swim underwater and hold their breath for 15 minutes? Put these facts together and it would seem very realistic that rats can come up through your sewer pipes but in reality it hardly ever happens. Why? This is really just my opinion and I hope to hear from those of you who had had this happen so I can learn from what you’ve experienced.

  • First point: Yes rats are great climbers but even the best would have trouble with a slick 4 inch pvc or other type sewer pipetoilet diagram that is connected to your toilet. Plumbing pipes are by design very slippery and there is no friction for obvious reasons so I would think even a rat would have trouble gaining his footing. Commodes on the 2nd floor or higher are usually 6 inch pipe and vertical making it even more unlikely. Even ground level pipes require some angle for the -uh-em- poo to go down so while it seems more feasible, the odds are still stacked against his passage. Even if they made it all the way to your bathroom they would still need to navigate the last vertical foot or so to get into your commodes trap which is usually ‘S’ curved and has nothing to grab on to. Unlikely once again.
  • Second point: Rats can swim very well but most sewer pipes in homes are not filled with water unless you have a back up somewhere. I think I’d rather have a rat than that mess. The only place I can see where swimming would come into play in normal circumstance is at the end of the pipe just under your toilet. The commodes trap is designed to hold water which keeps any sewer gas build up from entering your home but it’s not much more than a few inches of water so a rat would have no problem if he did indeed make it this far.

if a rat could

  • Third point: If a rat did make it and emerged up into your bowl it is somewhat unlikely that he would be able to get out once there. The slick surface of the bowl is about the same as your pipes and without any grip he wouldn’t be likely to climb out or even get enough footing to jump.


Having said all this I’d like to tell you about a rat I found just the other day. The home was a vacant repo and there were a few rat droppings around in different rooms. I followed the signs until I came to the master bath and to my surprise I saw what I have not seen in 26 years of doing pest control service. A medium sized rat was head up in the toilet. I can’t say for sure just how this rodent entered the home, it has been cold and perhaps he scooted in an open door while the cleaners were there but there were no other points of entry that I saw. I wondered, “did he come up through the toilet, wander around and decide to go back down?” He obviously was trapped in the home with no visible escape route.” Or was he simply thirsty and jumped in the pot for a drink and couldn’t get out?”

Poor little guy, probably died of exhaustion.

Poor little guy, probably died of exhaustion.

I may never know the answers to this age old question in any certainty but at least now I have visible evidence that it is possible. I’m not a overly cautious person by any means but at least for now I can’t help but look twice before I take a seat on the commode and as far as rodents in the house no matter how they get in? I’d say just let the experts handle it.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • litteriver

    Happened this morning!!! Working the night shift. After using the toilette and showering, I laid down for a rest. Wife woke me an hour later saying something was in the toilet splashing around and our cat was freaking out. She was in the bathroom sorting laundry at the time when our cat approached the toilet for a look with the LID DOWN when the creature started splashing around in the toilet scaring her and the cat . I was woken to investigate. I cautiously opened THE LID only to find three large black rodent droppings and nothing else. He must have left the same way he entered for I found no sign of water on the exterior of the toilet. I suspect the odor of my bowel movement must have led the creature to my door this morning. I good bleaching is in order. I am thinking one of those auto toilet cleaners with bleach may deter them.

  • Ooooh, I’m in trouble then if bowell movements bring em in…… Save some bleach for me.

  • Angela

    I had a rat come out of my toilet twice this year so far. Never thought this could happen. We all feaked! After the first time, I told my kids:What are the odds of something like that happening twice? Boy I was wrong, cause it just happend again last weekend. Now mu husband will put some screening over the cleanout on the roof. I hope that will do the trick!

  • I hope so too…..

  • Julie

    A live adult bird found its way into my commode today. Any explanations? I’ve heard of other animals making their way through the pipes, but not a bird. It splashed around awhile ( while I tried to figure out how it got there and how to get it out) and then died. It made a mess with all the splashing.

  • Multiflap

    We already have such a product please visit

  • I don’t normally let links slip through but I think your product may help the folks who have this phenomenon.

  • That would be one for the record books

  • iwod

    I want to ask do rats have a tendency to move/go up to as high up as possible. This isn’t coming from Toilet but normal apartments stairs.

  • Roof rats do but Norway rats aren’t especially known for it. Norway/Sewer rats would be the ones in plumbing—up or down wouldn’t be a problem nor stairs.

  • runnerroll

    WRONG, it happened to me last night. I flushed the toilet at the neighborhood clubhouse. Waited for the water to go down, it wasn’t, thought I’d have to find a plunger (I just peed) and a huge, and I mean huge, rat came up from the toilet, swimming in my pee. I think you could hear the screams a mile away. I’m still traumatized. One of the guys killed it (it was still in the toilet) and disposed of it. Yes, it came up from the toilet.

  • runnerroll

    WRONG, it happened to me last night. I flushed the toilet at the neighborhood clubhouse (built in 1996). Waited for the water to go down, it wasn’t, thought I’d have to find a plunger (I just peed) and a huge, and I mean huge, rat came up from the toilet, swimming in my pee. I think you could hear the screams a mile away. I’m still traumatized. One of the guys killed it (it was still in the toilet) and disposed of it. Yes, it came up from the toilet. And the guy who killed it said it was about 10 inches long, not counting the tail.

  • I bet you’ll be looking where you ‘pee’ before you sit down now for a long time to come.

  • Einat

    I left my apartment because I found a rat emerging from my toilet. Aparently he lived both in my apartment and the sewage for a few months…

  • Not fun for sure…

  • Bloom

    Second time it’s happened to me this year in the same lower floor toilet. Gone for the weekend, bathroom door tightly shut, toilet lid down, I lifted the lid to find a medium-sized rat staring back at me. The only plausible explanation is that it came through the pipes, which seems entirely reasonable given rats’ extraordinary swimming abilities.

  • ;0

  • Abe

    I came across this discussion because I just replaced my toilet and found a rat skeleton under the toilet- not in the bowl, but in the hollow area where the toilet sits on the tile. The only explanation I can think of is that the rat came up through the sewer and chewed through the wax seal to reach the void under the toilet. There is absolutely no other way it could have reached that space. Gave me the creeps.

  • Yea–that’s a bit to close. 😉

  • daisy

    I am going threw list 25 and finding a sewer rat in a toilet is a common fear. I Google searched it and found your site. I read the entry about it and decided it was probably something I don’t need to worry about. The reason I am leaving a message is to let you know I liked that you called the rat a “Poor little guy.” it may seam stupid but I tend to root for perserverent rodents. (Mrs Frisby taught me a lot as a kid)

  • 😉