The seemingly mythical instances where rats are found in someone's toilet happen more frequently than you'd think.
[Image Courtesy of Richard Riley/Flickr]
But how can large rodents get inside your toilet's tight spaces? There's no doubting that rats can squeeze through an open manhole cover and into the sewer system. But when they get so smaller spaces, a rat's unique biology kicks in.
The myths surrounding a rat's flexibility range from collapsible bones to not having bones at all. However, rats have bones connected with joints and cartilage, just like humans. A rat's vertebrae gives it a unique advantage.
If a rat can fit its head into a hole, its body can usually follow. It has specially designed ribs that allow it an unexpected flexibility, compressing easily under pressure.
But what about all the water? As long as a rat can find an air pocket somewhere in the pipes, it probably won't drown in its trek to your bathroom. Rats are incredibly adept swimmers and can tread water with ease.
You can watch the full rat path in this video from National Geographic below:
Not every sewer system deals with the problem. Older systems constructed out of brick struggle with rats the most, as the porous bricks let rats travel easily. Bricks also attract cockroaches, a sewer rat's favorite food. Given that PVC pipe doesn't offer any foothold, rats prefer tight spaces to propel themselves up. They avoid anything too large that they can't use to shimmy up a pipe.
Some homeowners go crazy when they see a rat in their toilet. The best thing to do? Flush. The
If you take compassion on the rat, you could always trap the rat and release it elsewhere. For most people, however, they want the little guys dead and never coming back. An effective pest control technique is pouring bleach into the toilet, closing the lid and waiting. Pest professionals say the rat will die of asphyxiation. Rat poisons don't typically work as those chemicals take weeks to work and are created for long-term use.
The only thing we could possibly think of worse than rats? Snakes. But that's a different story entirely...