Rats in the toilet

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Yes, rats can enter your house through the plumbing pipes, and then up through your toilet bowl. It is not common, but it does happen. Imagine opening the toilet lid, and seeing a fat brown rat sitting there! I get emails about this very scenario from time to time. Most commonly it's the Norway Rat, or Brown Rat, which prefer underground urban areas, sewers, and enter the plumbing system. These rats are great climbers and can hold their breath to get through the p trap and other waterlogged areas. If you have a grate or valve installed on your plumbing outflow, you are not at risk.

You might think that you can flush a rat down the toilet, but it'd be more likely to jump out than get flushed down. Once inside the house, you've got to trap the rat, or hope your pet cat will get it, because it won't go back down the toilet water. If you see your toilet paper being eaten at night, maybe a rat is doing it, but it probably didn't come up through the commode. Some people think you can prevent a rat in this situation with a toilet guard. I've got to be honest though, rats in the toilet are very rare. It's certainly not something that would keep me up at night! But read below for a couple of email examples I've received about rats in the toilet bowl in NYC, London, and other areas.

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What to do about a rat in the toilet? Install vents on your plumbing stacks. Install a valve or screen on your plumbing outflow before it enters the sewer pipes. Keep the toilet seat and lid closed, and if you see one, slam it shut and call a pro!

Email from reader: rat in toilet
I found a live rat in my toilet bowl today. I was able to kill it and remove it.
I have never seen any signs of rats in the house at all. I live in Queens New York City.
Is there something I can install to prevent rats from getting into my toilet bowl via pipes in the future?
Thanks in advance,

Email from reader: rat problem!!! help!!
well....very strange story here. i live in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA. i moved into my house almost exactly 4 years ago. Everything was great until last year (in late august) i heard a splashing noise in my 2nd floor bathroom. I entered to find a rat in my toilet!!! I little shocked, I closed the door, drove to wal-mart (which may have been even scarier) and bought some sticky traps. I got home, slid the door open and pushed them in. By morning i found the agitated, dying rat half stuck to the trap. i then "disposed" of him.

My wife and I tore our house apart...every inch. NOTHING. No signs, except for 3 or 4 droppings all the way down 2 floors into the basement behind my washer. I put snap traps back there and nothing....until 1 week later i went down and the trap had gone off EMPTY! I continued to trap, and the houdini critter set it off 3 more times. Needless to say we were freaked out one evening when my wife walked downstairs to see a live rat sitting on our window well. We had a stand off for probably 20 minutes until we cornered and killed it.

I thought that maybe they could have been coming in thru my dryer vent, so i changed it. The borough baited the manhole in my front yard, and then NO ACTIVITY...for a year...until last week.

I went downstairs to use the basement bathroom (right next to the laundry room we'd been setting traps in the year prior, and found droppings) and there was a rat scurrying back and forth behind my toilet. Once again, closed door, trip to wal-mart, snap trap, dead by morning. Since last week we are again in demo mode on the house. I can find absolutely no entry points outside. Furthermore, I feel if there were obvious entry points we'd see mice too. We've never had 1 mouse in this house.

I knocked out some walls and threw cement around the basement shower enclosure in case they were coming up from under. I can't see how good a seal is there, so this would be a cheap guarantee. In order to get to the walls, I had to take the toilet off. I stuffed a rag in the flange hole to keep the stink from coming up. The next day the rag was down in the pipe elbow, soaked. Hmmmmm. I put another one in. Several hours later same thing. Then i made a ball of newspaper and put it in a plastic bag. The next morning, it had receded down in the hole. I picked the bag up and wet newspaper fell out of the bottom. There was a big hole in the bag!! Yesterday, my sewage line from that toilet backed up into my basement. I called a plumber, had the line snaked and cleared. I balled up another towel in the hole. This morning i went to home depot, bought an official cap to put in the flange. When a pulled the towel out, it was wet and a portion of it was chewed off and laying in the pipe elbow!!!!

What is happening?????!!! Every plumber I've talked too has said its VERY unlikely for rats to come up my toilet. But I'm thinking this is 100% indication that they are living in my house sewer line. The borough was out at the manhole in my front yard again last week baiting and checked yesterday. None of the bait was taken.

What are your thoughts? Do you know anyone I could contact in this area for help??
I hope to hear back.

Email from reader: Advice about rat in the toilet
Hi David,
Came across your web page and thought i would ask you some rat advice. We bought our home 2 years ago and we renovated for 2 months, so no one lived here for those two months. When we moved in, maybe about a week into living here, our bedroom bathroom had a rat in the toilet. I was in there cleaning, heard water splashes in the toilet and bam a rat, after about 30 flushes it went back down and we never saw a rat around again. Today, I'm walking down my hallway, I hear splash in the hallway bathroom toilet and there I see the rat peaking its head out. I close the lid and again I flushed it about 20 times. Currently waiting for the boyfriend to get home from work to handle the rest. What is your advice? We have a 3 year old daughter who constantly is using the restroom on her own, and it makes me sad that I now feel like I have to a toilet check before we let her use it. Do we have a rat problem? Plumbing problem?
Thank you for your time and any advice.

Go back to the Rat Removal page to learn more about how to get rid of rats in the toilet and rats in the ratplumbing.

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