When it comes to terrible things that could happen to you, dying from heart disease is way more likely than a snake crawling out of your toilet, but the snake is scarier anyway. It’s not logical, but a beast slithering out of the sewer while you do your business is just wrong. But don’t worry. It’s not likely to happen, it’s easy to prevent, and even if it a critter does make it up the pipes of your house, the worst that will happen is probably a scare.
Can snakes crawl from your toilet?
Snakes like tight, dark places, and their long, slender bodies can twist through most plumbing, so a snake definitely could slither up your pipes while you’re sitting on the loo, but do they want to? Most snakes don’t.
The sewer is not a good snake environment — it’s cold down there, and snakes like things warm. Don’t get me wrong, though: Snakes still swim into toilets occasionally, as you can see from this terrifying video of a three-foot snake a guy found in his toilet.
They might be unlikely to swim up your pipes, but snakes can get into your toilet in other ways, too. There are reports from all over the world of snakes found in toilets — including one in a Starbucks, this 10-foot python found in an Australian toilet, and this case from Israel where a toilet-snake actually bit a guy’s penis.
Can rats crawl from your toilet?
There are also rats: the animal kingdom’s champion of swimming up plumbing into toilets. Rats often enter sewer systems through cracked pipes or manhole covers, and because they are foul, they like living there, particularly in combined sewer systems. They want food, and they’re not too proud to feast on undigested bits from human faeces, or any food you flush down your toilet (because people apparently do this).
Rats can tread water for three days. They can hold their breath for up to three minutes, and have hinged ribs that allow them to fit through openings the size of a quarter. You’re probably aware of rats’ ability to find their way through mazes, so the network of pipes leading from their sewer lairs to your toilet is not going to be a problem.
If you’re like me, equally fascinated and horrified by rats, this video from National Geographic demonstrates exactly how rats swim up the pipes. Fun side note: While it’s still rare to find a rat in your crapper, “more rats in the toilets” was one of many unforeseen consequences of the COVID lockdown.
Can spiders crawl from your toilet?
There are also spiders. Most spiders aren’t good swimmers, and the water that prevents gases from getting into your bathroom also prevents spiders from getting in. Spiders love cool, dark places like inside of your toilet, though, so they can enter from elsewhere and take up residence under the lid.
Spider-infestations are a much bigger problem for people who use outhouses. The area under an outhouse is likely to be filled with flies, and typically quiet, which creates a perfect place for a spider. That includes the deadly black widow, so be aware if you’re sharecropper in Louisiana in 1867 or something.
I would rather find a snake in my toilet than a possum — possums are the worst animals. I know they’re not harmful, but they’re just so ugly and gross. Luvkily, full grown possums are too big to crawl up your pipes. Baby possums, on the other hand, occasionally get lost and end up in some unsuspecting human’s powder room. Baby possums aren’t that bad, but still: Possums, just stay away from me.
Can frogs leap from your toilet?
If you find a frog or toad in your toilet, it’s actually adorable, and you should be like “Hey, little buddy! Did you get lost?” And gently scoop them up and place them outside. Frogs often get into your house’s pipes from the sewer system or through vent pipes attached to your roof. They hop in and can’t get out, then survive a harrowing adventure that ends at your toilet. Show a little compassion; froggy has had a hard day.
Can alligators crawl from your toilet?
Nope. Forget the urban legends you might have heard: alligators do not crawl from their sewer system lairs into your pipes. Despite sightings that date back to the 1920s (and the occasional real alligator found in a sewer), the idea of alligators thriving in the sewer systems is a tall-tale. Sewers are not a good environment for ‘gators. Sadly, reports of blind and/or albino alligators that have mutated to adapt to life in the sewers and grown a taste for humans have not been substantiated. Alligators are found in bathrooms fairly regularly, though, particularly in the South, but they got in through cat doors or other means, not through the pipes.
What to do if you find a snake, rat, or other animal in your toilet
If a critter invades your toilets, you will probably shriek loudly. When you’ve finished (and it could take some minutes) you should slam the lid of your toilet seat down and put something heavy on top of it. Rats are strong and it’s better for a shit-befouled rat to be trapped in your toilet than running around in your house. (Putting the lid down probably won’t stop smaller snakes from escaping through the gap in your toilet lid. Sorry.)
Now that you’ve trapped the animal, call animal control. They’ll deal with your toilet critter, and be able to tell if it’s part of a larger animal issue in the sewers.
Some people recommend pouring bleach into the bowl to kill lost rats. This which would work in theory, but would involve lifting the lid, potentially allowing a sewer rat into your house.
How to prevent animals from crawling into your toilet in the first place
If you’re really worried about the possibility of animals crawling up your pipes, there’s a simple solution: Install a rat-guard. These one-way flaps allow waste water out, but prevent vermin from getting in. That would include snakes, rats, and really anything else you could think of.
You should also keep things clean, particularly for spiders. Spiders, it is thought, would rather not be in an area filled with the fumes of cleaning products; plus, not cleaning your toilet is just nasty — spiders or not.
If you have frogs getting into your toilet through the plumbing’s air vents, you can install hardware cloth over the opening of the pipe, and trim any branches that hang above your vents.
What to do about toilet C.H.U.Ds
I’ve not given any advice for what to do if your toilet is infected with C.H.U.Ds (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) because nothing can stop their insatiable hunger for human flesh.