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How to Deal with a Rat Swimming Up the Toilet Bowl

Updated on April 15, 2016
This rat isn't checking to see if the toilet is clean under the rim.
This rat isn't checking to see if the toilet is clean under the rim. | Source

Just about everyone who has ever dealt with a home invasion of rats finds out that rats are very capable at running, climbing, and gnawing. Not as many of us have personal experience with rats as swimmers.

In communities around the world, especially where the municipal sewer systems are older, it is common for plumbers to get requests to remove rats from toilet bowls. Generally, this happens where sewer lines are broken or have fallen into disrepair. It can also become a problem after heavy seasonal rains when water overwhelms the sewer system.

Rate can tread water for as long as three or four days. They can swim a kilometer (about half a mile) or more to reach dry ground—or a dry water closet or bathroom, as the case may be. A rat emerging in the toilet bowl is likely to be exhausted by its trip and relatively non-aggressive, but that doesn't make a lot of difference to the undressed and vulnerable bathroom user.

While this story may tickle the funny bone of readers who were not there, nothing engenders rodentophobia like beginning to sit down, with a naked behind, on a tired and hungry rat.

Rats In the Toilet?

Getting Them Out
Keeping Them Out
Pour bleach into the bowl and close lid. The rat will die of asphyxiation within 15 minutes.
Install sewer pipes made of PVC or clay at least 24 inches/60 cm wide.
Call a plumber, who will use a snare to remove rat.
Place a one-way rat baffle in the sewer line.
 
Make sure any garbage cans next to curb drains are tightly sealed. This keeps rats from congregating at that sewer entrance to get food.
A rat in the toilet is likely to be tired from its long swim.
A rat in the toilet is likely to be tired from its long swim. | Source

Ways to Kill the Rat

People who encounter rats in the toilet tend to overreact. According to pest control specialist Robert M. Corrigan, author of Rodent Control: A Practical Guide for Pest Management Professionals, homeowners have attempted to kill sewer rats by electrocution, flame throwers, poisons, and shot guns. Rats have been stabbed, choked, and bludgeoned. According to Corrigan, these desperate attempts at rodent control are more likely to result in injury to the homeowner than to the rat.

There's a much simpler approach to the problem that sometimes will work: Flush.

Although flushing is unlikely to send even the most fatigued rat back into the sewer system, it will at least buy time to escape the toilet, attend to personal hygiene, get dressed, and prepare other measures.

Homeowners determined to kill the rat on the spot have an equally simple solution. Pour bleach into the bowl, close the lid, and the rat will be asphyxiated in 10 to 15 minutes. Pouring D-Con and other rat poisons into the bowl will not be effective; these poisons take 3 or 4 days to a week to work. Besides, the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of removing it from the consumer market, according to their website.

What Plumbers Do

Pest control professionals remove rodents from toilet bowls with a snare. A wire loop is placed around the rat's neck, and the rat is lifted, alive, from the toilet. A rat trap dangled on a string is not a substitute for a snare. If the trap snaps on the rat's paw, tail, or nose, the result is a very angry rat that may be inclined to take revenge on the trapper's fingers, or on other delicate appendages within biting distance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is every sewer system infested with rats?

A. No, just as most sewer systems aren't infested with alligators, sewer rats don't occur all that commonly in sewers. It is primarily the older sewer systems that were built with bricks, giving rats a toe-hold for travel, that harbor sewer rats. Bricks also enable easy migration of cockroaches, the sewer rat's preferred food.

Q. Does road construction send rats up out of the sewer?

A. No, construction noise does not disturb sewer rats. They are likely to remain in their underground lairs happily eating cockroaches until a manhole cover is removed or direct excavation opens the sewer.

Q. Do rats prefer some sewers more than others?

A. Yes. Any sewer line attached to a garbage disposal provides rats with a food supply.

Q. Is a rat baffle the only way to stop rats from swimming up the toilet bowl?

A. Rats can't get a grip on clay or PVC pipe, and have to swim the entire way up PVC or clay. The larger the pipe, the less the problem of rat infestation. Rats prefer tight, enclosed spaces for travel. When sewer pipes are wider than about 24 inches/60 cm, rats avoid them.

Q. Is there anything else I can do to prevent invasions by sewer rats.

A. Yes. If you put out your garbage next to a drain on the side of the street, make sure the container's lid is kept tightly closed. This keeps rats from congregating at that sewer entrance to get food.

Please feel free to add a comment or ask a question

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    • profile image

      Bibi 4 weeks ago

      Today a rat came up my toilet . 5th fl0or He never made it out because my cat alerted me. I flushed him down. Flushed 10 times. Then I poured he hottest water from my hand shower down the bowl. Then I put bleach in the toilet , closed the lid and put something heavy on it. This rat was big. He could lift the lid. I put a can of Clorox next to the toilet. That water will have bleach in it now at all times.

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      Steve 4 months ago

      Home owner 101, or how to get rid of the rat. I picked up the lid of my toilet today, for there usual reasons and there staring back at me was a rat. Since I don't think he opened the lid and jumped in, I assume he or she came up through the drain pipe. Probably flooding due to the rain trapped it and this was the only way out. Calling the 24 hour service pest control I found it would be $375 and they would be out tomorrow. I didn't realize the 24 meant that is how long it to to get them. Then my engineering skills kicked in. Closing myself in the bathroom with a large plastic trash bag and a tennis racquet, I went to work. I slipped the bag between the toilet and seat then lifted the seat. The critter soon figured out he could crawl out and fell into the bag. As I anticipated, it fell out of the bag when I lifted the bag away from the toilet. Now I had a cornered rat. I was able to convince the rat that getting back into the bag was the best move using the tennis racquet. I then quickly exited the house and released the rat back into the wild.

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      Ratbella 9 months ago

      Just used your recomendation. Clorox, dead rat. Flushed down the toilet. How else do u get rid of it? Success! (So far)

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      WatertightInternational.com 14 months ago

      The best solution is not to just keep the lid down. What happens Kenny when you open the toilet at night or if the rat jumps out!. The best solution is to prevent rats coming in from the inlet at source. This can be done with the sewerdefender fitted in the manhole which works like a non return value. Check them out here http://www.watertightinternational.com/sewer-defen...

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      Tisha 20 months ago

      My landlord is trying to say Im responsible for this rat getting in to the basement!!! His home underneath the wooden basement steps and is NOT sealed!!! The basement is unfinished!!!

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      kenny 21 months ago

      This exact thing just happened to me 3 days ago. I keep the lid closed at all times. Went to pee before showering for work and saw it just sitting in the water. Freaked out called my land lord he claimed in 25 years hed never heard of that and came to handle it. Said when he went to open the lid that the mouse was wedged inbetween the bowl and the bottom plastic u sit on and was crying because it was being squashed. The city should do itself a favor and upgrade the sewage pipea. Freaking retarded rodants can come up through toliet pipes

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      missJuM 21 months ago

      This is NOT as rear as every article that I've read has stated. This happened to me a month ago today and it happened to me this morning. A rat came out of my toilet and I am very upset. Reporting my landlord ASAP because that has to be breaking some health code law. The first time that I called them reporting it, they said that the never heard that happening before. What a big fat lie.

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      Manas Kumar Rout 4 years ago from Bhubaneswar, India

      Thanks to the author for a great information. But, I didn't know that rats are great swimmers. That's because when I was a little kid, my dad used to place some rat traps in our house and after getting them caught, we used to leave them in a bucket of water for some minutes and after that we always find them dead and this is from real experience of a rat-assassin.

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