How rats can swim up your toilet to terrorize you

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Re: treading water for 3 days. My parents used to make a simple but effective mousetrap based on mice not being able to tread water for very long. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of water. Cut off the flat bottom of a styrofoam cup, or some other little substance that will float. Set bait floating on the platform. Set a piece of wood like a ramp against the top rim of the bucket. Mouse climbs up ramp, tries to jump down on the bait raft, ends up in the water, can’t climb up the sides of the bucket. Hopefully not treading water when you check it the next day or week.

They never caught rats, but they proved that mice can’t tread water for more than a few hours or maybe a day.

Apropos of mice treading water: the “behavioral despair test” is sometimes used as a test for antidepressant properties. Apparently mice normally quit trying to do anything except keep their head above water relatively quickly if placed in a cylinder partially filled with water from which they cannot escape. Mice on antidepressants keep trying longer before exhibiting the ‘despair’ behavior.

How I should interpret this as I pop an SSRI cocktail and head off for another day at the data mines is…not really all that encouraging.


I find it odd that they made it significantly easier (or harder, I’m not sure) for the rat by having the trap and main drain completely filled with water.

The level of the water is sitting well above the trap lip, and the tube going down to the sewer is filled with water. This isn’t at all the way a toilet at rest looks, except when it’s actively flushing. Normally the main drain is empty except for air.

I’m guessing this made it easier for the staged rat (it could simply swim up, instead of trying to climb a vertical drain), but also forced it to hold its breath — a point they explicitly raised when they mentioned a non-existent pocket of air at the top of the trap.

I’m completely confused why they did it like this. Do they not know how a toilet works? Was it supposed to specifically show a rat swimming up during an active flush? Or were they simply not able to coax a rat to climb to the top in the real situation, and that was ruining their video?

Even during a flush, the main drain isn’t filled like that, it’s more like a waterfall. I doubt a rat would be able to swim up. This seems bogus.


Great. One more thing to be anxious about.


Given how “easily” and “quickly” these sewer rats are crawling up into toilets, I’m surprised we don’t hear more about it in the news. I myself have never experienced this, nor do I have any anecdotes from other people that would suggest this is anything more than sensationalist click-bait.

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Makes me glad the city I live in (Calgary) is completely rat free. Rats are illegal to possess here as pets, there is a Rat Patrol that guards the borders of Alberta.

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I spent most of the video thinking about how cute Rats are. Not all rats mind you, but at least the ones they used. In the future their animal casting director should choose a far more sinister looking beast.

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We only hear about the ones that outswim the boa constrictors.


Michael Jackson’s “Ben” just came on in my shuffle…

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Florida Rat!

I don’t have to worry about this because of the copyright restrictions keeping them out : German chefs can claim copyright over the arrangement of food on plates

Maybe it’s just human nature to think of our toilets as a connection to the unruly natural world that we’ve left behind, in large part thanks to our indoor plumbing:


Good reason to remember to put the seat and lid down after use.

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Maybe rats are emotionless terror machines.

I lived for years very close to the beach in Capitola California where the rocks were lively with rats. House was probably 20’ above seal level. Twice I returned from long trips to find rats in the toilet. Once dead, once live. After that I ALWAYS left the lid down. Knowing how sewers have vent openings, and how tight of a space a rat can enter, it shouldn’t be a surprise. They are very tenacious creatures.

“… to bite your junk.”
That’s what you wanted to say in the title. Admit it.

I wasn’t doubting that rats can get in there, I was just saying that the creators of this video have no idea how a toilet works.

I assume they can climb up the main drain (not swim up).

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