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 pipe 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.
- 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?”
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.