A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks
By Forrest Wickman
A snake discovered in a toilet Snakes aren't the only animals known to
lurk in toilets.
Still from "Snake in the Toilet" on YouTube
In a city in Australia, two different several-foot-long pythons have
been found in two separate toilets in the space of a couple weeks,
according to CNN. In 2013, Slates Forrest Wickman compiled a history of
the mythsand realitiesof toilet-based animal attacks. The article is
A mans penis was bitten by a snake hiding in a toilet on Friday.
According to an article in the Times of Israel, the man was sitting on
the john when he was bitten and then ran from the room in horror. The
man was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for minor
injuries, but tests found that the snake was not venomous. Have there
been other attacks like this before?
Forrest Wickman Forrest Wickman
Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for
Slates culture blog, Brow Beat.
More than you want to know. While there are multiple urban legends
surrounding toilet-based animal attacks, and they are rare, several
people have been known to have been bitten by animals while sitting down
on the toilet. And not just by snakes.
One of the most well-known bathroom assailants is the rat. A 1999
article in the Richmond Times Dispatch (available in the Nexis news
database) reported that a Petersburg, Va., woman was sitting down on the
toilet when a rat jumped up out the commode and bit her. The rat
apparently had crawled through city sewer lines, according to the
paper, and would not let go. While a local health official said this is
the first Ive heard of anybody being bitten by a rat while on the
toilet, its not the only such incident. As reported by This Is Local
London, 55-year-old Maxine Killingback was sitting on the toilet when
she was bitten by a rat that was trying to get out. She described the
rat as a big, black one, seven or eight inches long, and said she
weighed down the toilet lid to stop other rats that were trying to get
Its not always clear how rats get into the toilets in the first place;
some may sneak into the house through other means and only later find
themselves stuck in the toilet. But, as several reports from
exterminators have attested, its not uncommon for rats to come up
through the pipes. According to a thorough examination of the subject
fromThe Straight Dope, it depends on the pipes: While rats cannot climb
up pipes that are very steep or vertical for more than a few feetthe
pipes are too slipperypipes leading to ground floor or basement
bathrooms often run horizontal, downward, or at gradual angles, making
them easy for rats to crawl through, like a hamster throughhamster
tubes. Top-floor apartments may also be vulnerable to this method of
entry: One janitor who spoke to The Straight Dope said that every rat
hes ever encountered in a toilet has been in a top-floor apartment,
leading him to deduce that they climb into the soil pipes via the roof
before sliding down into the toilet bowl.
Some have noticed rats coming up through the toilet on a regular basis,
and rats are common enough in the toilet bowls of one Seattle-area sewer
system that the local government has posted a four-step method for
dispatching the rodents:
- Stay Calm!
- Keep the lid down so that it is unable to jump out.
- Squirt some liquid dish soap in the toilet to help break the
surface tension of the water. The soap degreases the oils on the rats
fur so it can not stay afloat in the water.
- Flush the toilet! The rat will usually go back down the drain the
same way it came up. You may need to flush multiple times.
Snakes, too, have attacked from toilet bowls before. According to a 1993
article in Singapore newspaper The Straits Times, headlined Former
National Athlete Bitten by Snake in Toilet, a former shot-put champion
was bitten on the testicles by an 8-foot python while sitting down to
relieve himself. The bite was not poisonous, but the 43-year-old man was
taken to the hospital to receive stitches.
I could go on. In 2011, a woman whose toilet wouldnt flush was
surprised when a black snake slithered out of it, revealing itself to be
the source of the clog. I saw it, but I didnt want to believe it, she
said. It kept coming out.
A few years ago, a friend of mine found a live rat in her toilet. It
didn't even happen to me and I'm still traumatized from it. And yet, I
clicked on this article... More...
Snakes and rats seem to be the most common attackersat least as
reported in the mediabut theyre not the only animals that have been
found lurking in the toilet bowl. Recent headlines have included
Squirrel Rescued from Toilet by Goose (the squirrel in question was
discovered by businessman Duncan Goose) and Theres a Squirrel in My
Toilet, from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Even CNN reported on one
such hairy encounter.
Theres also a long series of rumors about a species of toilet spider
that likes to lurk beneath toilet seatsthe rumors even made the New
York Times, and theres an apparently doctored video on YouTube with
more than 5 million views. But there is no such thing as the butt
spider or arachnius gluteus. Thats one creature, at least, that no one
has to worry about.