Can a snake come up through my toilet?



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Well, bite my butt.

Think no living creature could crawl through your home’s plumbing and into your toilet? Convinced it’s just urban legend and fodder for horror movies? You haven’t met David Crow.

“Twenty years ago when I first got started in this business I would have said that’s silly, it doesn’t happen. But it happens,” says the wildlife biologist with Critter Control in Charlotte. “We see treefrogs, we see rats, we see occasional squirrels [and] snakes, and that terrifies people because an area they thought was absolutely private, occasionally isn’t.”

The highly rated animal control and removal company will humanely remove unwanted four-legged or no-legged guests still in the bathroom, as part of a $189 service call. That involves a full house inspection to make sure animal intruders haven’t come in through other openings, too.

Crow says, however, it remains relatively rare a snake will end up slithering around in your toilet bowl. Much more likely that Junior will flush a dead pet fish down the toilet than something alive wriggles up. Still, it’s on Crow’s radar. “We don’t see it every month, maybe every other month,” he says.


The journey to the john

So how do creatures of the day and night get in through the porcelain gate?

Crow explains a typical home has multiple stack pipes running from the sewer through the roof that vent sewer gases. These connect to the home’s drain system, which empties water used by the dishwasher, in showers and when flushing toilets. But for much of the time, the pipes remain dry. A creature on the roof, say a squirrel, or a rat in a sewer — more prevalent in older, larger, cavernous systems — can scamper up or down the pipe, he says.

A wrong turn, a quick dunk in the short, S-shaped gooseneck pipe and it’s, Hello, john or John!

“There’s nothing sinister about it, they’re not trying to get you,” Crow says. “But to be in that prone position at the last second before you sit down and to see something where you last expect it, people get wigged out.”


Stop wildlife from taking the toilet plunge

If you’ve found a critter in your toilet, head to the hardware store to pick up hardware cloth, or one-quarter to half-inch-thick wire mesh, Crow recommends. Use special cutters to lop off sections large enough to fit over each stack pipe opening — usually about an inch to 3 inches — with wire mesh to spare.

The whole job takes place on the roof. So if you don’t feel like you could complete it safely, or you’d just rather not DIY, call a handyman or animal removal expert to do it for you. Crow charges $15 for each stack pipe opening he covers, in addition to the service call. He says the materials cost less than $1 for those comfortable DIYing.

Even if you’ve never had a toilet intruder (but do have a fear), it doesn’t hurt to take precautionary measures — especially if you’re already going to be on the roof making other repairs, Crow says. Documented stories do exist of animal attacks launched from the toilet bowl (Google it — carefully — if you don’t believe us and want to be scared, or scarred).

Fortunately, Crow says all of his clients noticed the intruder before sitting down. He’s quick to add that the animals don’t set out to terrorize. They’re just looking for food and shelter, and took a wrong turn.


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This article was written by Angie’s List journalist, Michael Schroeder.

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