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After Area Woman's Scare, We Ask: Can Rats Really Climb Through Your Toilet?

After a Prospect Heights woman’s tale of horror hit the news, we checked in with some experts to see if it can really happen.

If it wasn’t already your worst fear – it will be now.

Following Gothamist's report of the scary tale of Prospect Heights resident Kat Selvocki, a program manager at a non-profit group, who found a very special surprise in her bathroom, we decided to check in with exterminators to see if it could really happen.

According to the website, Selvocki was watching "Carnivale" with her roommate in their third floor apartment when they spotted “8-inch long rat (not including the tail).” After some investigation, the pair found a few dark hairs in the toilet bowl, and some splashed water on the floor, according to the original report. 

"I freaked out," Selvocki told Gothamist. "I do not deal well with rats. But the super came over and the four of us, including my neighbors' dogs, searched for the rat for an hour and could not find it. We saw it walking near the heater in the living room, so our current theory is that there are holes big enough in the heating vents for it to crawl into."

So is it possible that the rat came up through the toilet? 

“It’s infrequent, but yes, it does happen,” said Ed DeFreitas, an exterminator with Empire Pest Control, based out of Carroll Gardens. “And when it happens, it’s horrible.”

He said the rats live in the citywide sewer lines, but sometimes will head to higher ground. To do that, they go up through the smaller pipes, or “arteries,” which connect to buildings and the street.

“If the animal is small enough, and still in the bowl, you can flush it down. But some people will call an exterminator to basically do hand-to-hand combat with the rat,” DeFreitas said.

Cesar Sotoelone, an exterminator with Freedom Pest Control NYC has seen the problem, too.

“I’m not going to say it happens every week, but it happens several times a year,” he said.

Sotoelone said there are two ways that a rat could get stuck in your toilet. If it is outside of the bowl, it may jump in looking for water. Once it is in, it can’t climb out because it can’t grip the sides. Sotoelone said that in older basements, there may be holes in the sides of the pipes that face upwards that an animal can crawl into – and the way out is through the bowl.

“You should call a pest control person if you see one, it’s not something you want to deal with on your own,” he said.

Sotoelone shares an unorthodox way to get rid of an unwanted rodent guest in your toilet – but cautions not to try this at home.

“One time, the way I got a rat out – and I don’t recommend this – I saw the rat in the bowl, but he was too big to flush. I put traps around the edges and then I came in with some hot water – not scalding water, not hot enough to burn it, just enough give it a little shock. Anyway, the rat finds the strength to pull himself out, and gets caught it in the trap.”

MaryNYC February 04, 2011 at 05:54 PM
I rescued a mouse from my toilet in 2009...poor thing. It was a eye-opening experience, however.
fatuma August 01, 2011 at 05:37 AM
that was too scary for me to read, i never new a rat can up the toilet, now im even too'' scared to use the restroom.
Michael Bowyer April 27, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Found this product that will help stop rats from getting into your toilet - details at http://www.multiflap.com

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