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 pestcemetery.com 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 pestcemetery.com

  • 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. Pestcemetery.com 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.

This entry was posted in Rats and Mice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Pingback: Do not use-rat in toilet()

  • DIANE PRENTICE

    DEAR SIR,

    I LIVE IN AN APARTMENT IN EDEN PRAIRIE, MN. JUST THE OTHER NIGHT AT 2:30AM I HAD TO GO POTTY, I ALWAYS HAVE THE COVER DOWN AS I DONT WANT MY CATS TO WALK ON THE SEAT SO AS I LIFTED THE COVER…. I HAD TO DO A DOUBLE TAKE AS I SAW A BROWN RAT SITING ON THE SIDE OF THE BOWL WHERE THE WATER DID NOT REACH, BUT HE WAS ALL WET.
    I QUICKLY SHUT THE COVER AND FLUSHED THE TOILET 10-12 TIMES BEFORE OPENING THE COVER AGAIN….. HE WAS GONE, BUT MY FEAR LIVES ON. I NOW HAVE A 20LB CAT LITTER SITTING ON THE COVER OF MY TOILET AND FLUSH IT TWICE BEFORE I TAKE A LOOK. THIS JUST HAPPENED 4 NIGHTS AGO AND HAVE NOT SEEN ANOTHER YET, BUT NO MATTER WHERE I LIVE I WILL ALWAYS BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN USING “ANY” TOILET.
    JUST A STORY TO CONVINCE YOU THAT IT DOES HAPPEN……..
    THANKS FOR LISTENING.
    DIANE PRENTICE
    MINNESOTA

  • DIANE PRENTICE

    DEAR SIR,

    I LIVE IN AN APARTMENT IN EDEN PRAIRIE, MN. JUST THE OTHER NIGHT AT 2:30AM I HAD TO GO POTTY, I ALWAYS HAVE THE COVER DOWN AS I DONT WANT MY CATS TO WALK ON THE SEAT SO AS I LIFTED THE COVER…. I HAD TO DO A DOUBLE TAKE AS I SAW A BROWN RAT SITING ON THE SIDE OF THE BOWL WHERE THE WATER DID NOT REACH, BUT HE WAS ALL WET.
    I QUICKLY SHUT THE COVER AND FLUSHED THE TOILET 10-12 TIMES BEFORE OPENING THE COVER AGAIN….. HE WAS GONE, BUT MY FEAR LIVES ON. I NOW HAVE A 20LB CAT LITTER SITTING ON THE COVER OF MY TOILET AND FLUSH IT TWICE BEFORE I TAKE A LOOK. THIS JUST HAPPENED 4 NIGHTS AGO AND HAVE NOT SEEN ANOTHER YET, BUT NO MATTER WHERE I LIVE I WILL ALWAYS BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN USING “ANY” TOILET.
    JUST A STORY TO CONVINCE YOU THAT IT DOES HAPPEN……..
    THANKS FOR LISTENING.
    DIANE PRENTICE
    MINNESOTA

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hi Diane,

    I have since become a believer although I’m still pretty confident it’s on the rare side of occurrences. I wrote a subsequent article about it. http://pestcemetery.com/userat-toilet/ I know that’s little consolation to you and I completely understand your hesitation to freely use the facilities the way you used to. The one I found was already passed away but I checked every commode for a month before I settled back into normal. I hope you’ll be able to do the same.

    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hi Diane,

    I have since become a believer although I’m still pretty confident it’s on the rare side of occurrences. I wrote a subsequent article about it. http://pestcemetery.com/userat-toilet/ I know that’s little consolation to you and I completely understand your hesitation to freely use the facilities the way you used to. The one I found was already passed away but I checked every commode for a month before I settled back into normal. I hope you’ll be able to do the same.

    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • yellow680

    Our neighbors are experiencing a rat problem. They have a basement toilet that the rats are entering through. It is being capped off.

  • Kim

    I am Googling this because I just came home from running errand. Used my ground level bathroom (#1) and even though I know some people don’t, I always look before using it and after. So, I flushed then washed my hands and fixed my hair when I heard something. I looked down at the toilet and there it was – a pretty large, wet rat splashing around. I screamed, slammed the lid down, have called the husband and will let either he or the cat take care of the problem later.

    Seriously, this thing is big and I know I would have seen it before I sat down – bleh – or at least heard it. BTW, I live in Austin, Texas and this is definitely a first for me!

  • Wow-I think I might have screamed too! Maybe your story will get others to LOOK before they eh emm, leak -as well. ( sorry-I couldn’t help it) 😉
    Thanks for sharing and I hope you get that thing out of there.

    The Bug Doctor

  • Terrylynnjerry

    I don’t think this is as rare as you say. I woke up yesterday morning to find a drowned rat in my toilet bowl. My exterminator came and looked for signs that he came from inside the house and he found nothing. He fished the thing out and put bait (poisoned) under the house as a precaution. He had no idea where the thing came from. This morning at 5 am I heard a splashing in my toilet bowl. Went to check it out, and there was ANOTHER rat in the toilet — this one was alive and swimming. I shut the lid and let him wear himself out until he drowned. My exterminator is coming back today, but we think now that they are coming up from the city sewer. I called the city and was told to pour bleach down the kitchen sink and toilet bowls. It is disgusting — and if it is a city problem, it becomes your problem too. The city has to be willing to bait the sewers. If they don’t, I’m not sure you can do anything about them swimming up through the pipes, except to eliminate any food smell with bleach. My tip: Never go to sleep with the toilet lids up.

  • Excellent advice Terry,

    Especially with back to back rat encounters. I’m beginning think you may be right but I’m still not certain it’s a wide spread problem. Who knows-it may be I’ve lived a sheltered life.
    🙂
    Thanks for reading and sharing your story

    The Bug Doctor

  • Edras

    I woke up one morning to find a rat staring me in the face. I screamed like a little girl and about jumped through my basement ceiling. I flushed 20x and he was to big or didn’t want to go back down the other way so I left him in there for a little over 2 hours and the damn thing nearly ate through a solid wood heavy toilet seat. Not fun and not rare.

  • Edras,

    I’m sorry you had that experience. Other comment’s below agree with yours and I’ve even been on some forums that were discussing this where others agree as well. I’m still of the opinion however that it’s not in the category of ‘everyday occurrences.’ But I do know it happens.

    Thanks for reading

  • Guest

    Yes; the absoute can and do regularly in a building I manage in NYC. they have appeared a far as the 7th floor up in toilets, so anyone who tells you it cannot be so, be well advised that is so and is happening quite regularly. I just would like to know how to make it STOP!! there are currently no solutions that I can find.

  • Perhaps you could invent a ‘flapper’ in the J trap that would allow “stuff” out but not in.

    You’d be a hero. 😉

  • James Marra

    I had a my toilet and the lid was down. As far as being able to get to get out he sure did he made a big leap right out. So yes they can get out of john. I trapped it in the shower and sprayed it with wasp spray and he died in about five or six minutes. How he got their I am not sure I thought through the sewer pipe or someone said perhaps through the vent pipe on the roof. I have not looked there yet to see in it has a screen over it  or not. If not I will put one.

  • James Marra

    I had a my toilet and the lid was down. As far as being able to get to get out he sure did he made a big leap right out. So yes they can get out of john. I trapped it in the shower and sprayed it with wasp spray and he died in about five or six minutes. How he got their I am not sure I thought through the sewer pipe or someone said perhaps through the vent pipe on the roof. I have not looked there yet to see in it has a screen over it  or not. If not I will put one.

  • Kind bro

    I just awoke at 5:00AM to a sound in our toilet. I thought it was water leaking. I lifted the bowl in our second story master bedroom bath to find a rat in our toilet. I flushed it and it was gone. Uggggg. Can’t get back to bed.

  • That would be a hinderance to sound sleep– but hey, the odds are in your favor now right? That couldn’t happen twice could it?

  • Sjmelon

    Yes it can happen twice. Just found the second one in about 5 yrs and found your site looking for answers. I guess it’s just going to be a closed top with a weight on top.

  • I would be thinking hardware cloth if that was my commode. 😉

  • Charlotte Adams

    I live in a flat on the 5th and top floor of an old Victoria building in London, UK.  Last week, very early one morning, as my husband was washing his hands in the WC a BIG black rat ran over his toes.  The scream that erupted from him was enough for myself and my two teenage children to wake up and come running, fearing my husband was being attacked.  We missed seeing the rat (thank God) as it ran into our kitchen.  The kids and I cowered outside the kitchen door while my terrified husband was sent in to deal with it and it wasn’t pleasant (he was in shock for days)!  Rats CAN and DO climb and rats CAN and Do get themselves out of the toilet bowl so be warned!  Now I feel scared in my own home and I’m constantly telling the kids off for leaving the toilet lid open.  I’m putting bleach down the toilet before I go to work and before I go to bed and I’m petrified each time I walk into my toilet and turn the light on.  Don’t even get me started on how nervous I am sitting on the toilet.

  • I’m sorry you are petrified but I do understand a sight like that will cause such a thing. People Can & Do win the lotto too… just not everybody up and down the street over and over again. It’s a big world and the point of the article was not to say it was impossible– just not an everyday occurrence. Hope you’re able to relax soon.

    The Bug Doctor

  • Bunny

    I came upon this post as I was googling wondering if Rats & Mice could swim or not out of curiosity. Well because of two things!!

    One when I was young about 12ish. My mom was washing clothes down in the basement and she said kept seeing a lot of movement and every time she would look and stare nothing seemed wrong. So after about a handful of double takes she looks over and there say this HUGE Mickey Mouse rat sitting on the toilet, wet and eating whatever take out he picked up. Even though we don’t use that toilet nor does it have water my mom came up screaming. My dad came to the conclusion that the Rat came from the sewer and only came up that toilet cause it’s not used nor have water in it to “prevent” him. 

    So my dad closed the toilet seat cover and put a brick on it and put up traps because also we had an abundance of field mice due to the fact neighbors were killing off the stray cats. 

    So about June or July I notice rat droppings but I wasn’t sure at first because our basement and garage leaks and a lot of potato bugs are in there. So one night I saw this HUGE BROWN RAT doing this circus act on the ladder that’s hanging up in the garage. Shortly after I told my mom and she assumed it was a mouse or mice. Mostly because all the can goods and dried food were eaten as well as empty wrappers. Like for noodles, cereal, chips even some vegetables were eaten. And it wasn’t old food it had been recently got. So I thought they came through the mail slot even though we have a relatively new garage door and a heavier weighted mail slot it’s possible for the mailman leave a little mail hanging out for them to latch on to and come in the garage. 

    So we brought poison and we plan to put it down but I don’t know what to do really and since my mom’s still in brain surgery recovery she’s not sure either. 

    But last week when I went to get the mail I saw this Lil mouse but I assumed it was a baby rat. My mom said it was field mouse but I still disagreed. About 2 evenings ago I went to go get the mail and also run an errand when I went to bend down to get the mail (because it lands on the garage floor) this HUGE BLACK Mickey Mouse RAT jumps at me and takes off into the garage and hides. I didn’t see where he went because I was getting over the mini-heart attacke he gave me. 

    But I did notice this!! Every time the mail falls and covers the drain by the garage door (it’s 1 of 2 maybe 3) it has rip marks that match up the drains circle and the drain cant be no more than 4inches wide but the cover is no more than 1 inch, 2 at the most!! And it seems any mail that falls over there gets ripped up or EATEN!! But they won’t eat the right mail though. However they’ve made holes in a box that was put away for storage has holes in the corners and even bags that were filled with cleaners and whatnot have been shredded to bits!! 

    Like how do we get rid of them?? Will they eat the poison food?? Should we put food on the sticky traps??? What about the drain, will bleach work?? 

    The borough we live in (Wilkinsburg, PA) is lazy and won’t care about the issue until it becomes a serious, uncontainable problem or disaster! There are a buncha vacant houses and any if not all animals live in them. There was even a vacant business building in the downtown area and it was torn down because of rat infestation. The borough won’t clean the extremely clogged sewers so I guess the rats look for some other refuge and come in to the homes by the drain pipes. 

    But I’m concerned he’ll come up to the second floor toilet. And because the toilet is OLD (probably came with the 60+ year old house) the toilet seat & covers won’t fit properly and there’s enough gap for him to lift it up and roam around!!

    What do we do??

  • Sounds like the rodent (rat) “pressure” is building all around your area. When populations begin to explode like this you often see neighborhoods act but it’s hard playing catch up. Your idea of glue traps and bait is something I think will help in the short term. For longer term-Consider ‘rodent proofing measures’ and even some exterior baits or traps. This is something that needs to be done with extreme care so as not to kill non target animals- If you don’t buy the right stations- DON’T DO IT. Your mail slot may need to be moved if it’s to low and allows rodent entry. Rats are great climbers but a flat slick door with a mail slot 3 feet high or so shouldn’t be passable.
    Lastly, if your borough won’t act-perhaps you should. You might consider hiring a pro to do all this for you- It’ll be safer and more effective.

  • Bunny

    I thought the same thing with the mail slot it’s maybe 2 no more than 3 feet off the ground. The only possible way is because of the designs in the door that would provide a sort of “step up” if you will. But I’ll admit it that I’m not a fan of touching grossing stuff and doing the trick trap even the sticky paper creeps me out!! I did see something last night called the Rat Zapper an its humane and it’s only big enough for rats and mice (and I guess squirrels would be the biggest possible animal but we don’t have problems with them). Would that be a good option?? All you got to do us bait it and it gives an electric shock to the rodent and then you pick up the container and dump it in the trash or garbage can. I thought that would help if the sticky papers and poison doesn’t work since they’re all over the garage. Would that be a good back up plan??

  • I’ve seen those rat zappers but never used them- it does seem good though. I’m a big snap trap fan myself and if non target critters (dogs – cats – kids- are around, I use the T-Rex trap because it can be put in a protective box and not need the height that a ‘full swing’ wooden snap trap would. Plus it’s easy to set-humane – reusable and you can fasten it to vertical surfaces using a nail or screw. Bit expensive ($6 or so each) but well worth the cost. Google T-Rex rat traps and you’ll find em.

  • Cruisedoc

    I came to this place after a google search of rats in the toilet drains… My incredible story is like this… I have a clean/well kept guest cottage on our main property in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.. yes there are roof rats about, especially in the palm trees at night…. I had the home tented for termites. After the tent was removed we found a dead rat inside the toilet bowl. My most eductaed and thoughtful idea was the rat was in the drain, and, because of the gas/fumigation found himself trying to escape through the vents.. and wound up coming up through the toilet basin.. incredible..

  • It’s amazing what they find when a tent comes off a house. Great story- Thanks

  • Wsstn71

    Searched this topic because I have a rat visiting at LEAST twice nightly that is indeed coming through the toilet. So I would revise your article. It is possible and happens.

  • No revision necessary – it’s still correct.

  • Adriana

    SO CUTE!

  • Me or the rat? lol

  • Shay

    How do you know that it is coming up your toilet ? I ask this because my boyfriend thinks he has one coming through his loo as he saw some water on the bathroom floor around the loo

  • Shay

    Ok so how did he get away…… did he go back via the loo

  • jerry

    Rats have entered my home through the toilet.Ikept the cover closed and kept flushing . It took a little time and the rat drowned. I also had three rats enter my Florida condo through the toilet, and chew through the cover .Exterminator said water evaporated, the rats detected the air and entered condo.

  • NXNW

    Sigh, at least four times over ten years I’ve found rats in my ground-level toilet. Twice they were alive; twice they were dead (did they die of exhaustion?). The first was the scariest as I had a heckuva time finding the source of the “little swimmer” noise. Then I had a great conversation with one of the water/sewer engineers as to how it’s not possible for a rat to get up the sewer line. Believe me, ten years and four rats in a Washington, DC toilet convinced me otherwise. 

  • Charlotteeldridge

    I have had problems with (rats) rodentsss for over 2yrs my home is about 13yrs old, I have had a professional with a  critter removal company do a total exclusion of the exterior of my home but I am still hearing noise in my attic and bedroom walls, I have glue traps and snap traps but we have never caught anything but we clearly hear rodents how else can they be getting in? I have spent so much money and I’m so fustrated, can’t sleep at night sometimes for the noise i noticed on rainy days i dont hear as much noise.

  • Are you sure it’s rodents? Hearing noises leaves a pretty broad suspect list. I wouldn’t narrow it down so quick until you SEE some evidence like droppings, foot prints, seeing one, etc.  It could be bats or squirrels or something else. Many times I have customers who are convinced of something and spend time, $, and effort in that direction because they are convinced for whatever reason. Only to have another set of eyes come in (mine) and expose something totally different.  May I suggest you get someone in your home other than your exclusion company who can help you figure out what is going on. It may be rodents, but after 2 years of having these noises and no results- you need a fresh look at things.

  • Air currents are like directional signals to insects and rodents alike. They detect faint smells and air currents that lead them through areas of our home that we think are impossible to navigate. 

  • Sdalley77

    yes we live in TN and we had a rat come out of the toilet one night. They do get into the sewer system and can emerge. Got a ball bat closed the door. Me vs the rat – My wife said don’t come out until it is dead. I won!

  • Victory! –

  • Deborah

    After a tremendous rainstorm in Florida last night a small rat or very large mouse was in my toilet bowl. I flushed it and down he went.

  • The rain was bad… are you sure he came up from the toilet or was he just in there to escape the lightning? 😉

  • Hellen

    I live in Canada.. Opened the toilet lid the other day after it had been closed all night to find a young rat treading water in bowl. I put on gloves, picked up by tail and dropped in pail. Released him outside~ he was shivering and in disbelief!!

  • Yea I bet he was in disbelief–most people brave enough to do what you did would have had a different ending in mind for him. lol

    He’s indebted to you for life now!

  • V.

    ..not only coming out, but visiting regularly. We met a beautiful evening, in the ground floor toilet. Me washing my hands, I hear a noise, turn my head, and there he is, all wet, looked me in the eyes, I screamed and he panicked, turned slipping around and dived right back in! Just like that, he saw me and dived back in. We had his regular visits at nights, he was chewing the carpet which was getting smaller and smaller. I do not want to take hopes away from the rest, but in my experience the rat was coming in and out as he pleased. This is so stressful, I fully empathise with all the people who have this problem. Everybody deserve a home that they feel safe and relaxed in, and this is taking your sleep and all the home beauty away. Mostly because it is unpredictable and no clear solutions are provided. However, the bug doctors’ idea, about the flap that opens only one way, is the greater idea I ve heard so far. It could actually solve the problem. Considering that the UK and USA have quite an issue with the toilet rats, I believe it would be a very successful business move 😉 Why not?

  • That would be an untapped niche 😉
    Sure hope that flap idea works out for you- Thanks for commenting with your experience.

  • yesman

    they spread that disinfo on National Geographic TV and books.
    It would have to be turn of the century (1800-1900) plumbing for this to be a fact. Any plumber knows it’s non-sense. But it is not uncommon to find one IN a toilet like your picture. They simply are usually getting a drink and can’t get out due to as you mention the slippery surface. Even bugs with tiny hooks have a hard time.

  • yesman

    I see all the comments of rats in toilets. Funny thing NO one has seen it come up from the fucking sewer. It FALLS in the toilet people. Rats LOVE a drink.

  • We had a rat come up the toilet in central London, second floor flat, after three weeks of a hard freeze. My daughter heard it as it got out, and there were splashes on the lavatory seat – there is no way it was in the flat and went for a brief swim in the toilet then re-emerged. I think the sewer must have frozen, as I’ve lived there since 1984 and this was a first. We managed to catch it and release it – it was a very nice rat, intelligent, and realized quite quickly we meant it no harm. Remember before you sentence a rat to a slow death by exhaustion and drowning they are fellow creatures.