Early one morning shortly after Bea was born I descended the stairs to our basement so I could put a load of cloth diapers into the washer. A rather mundane, routine chore when one has a newborn. It had been a night of heavy rain and the basement smelled damp. Just off the laundry area is a tiny bathroom. Half bath would be too generous of a term. More like a closet with a toilet in it. The previous owner of the house was an architect and the house reflects his quirks. The basement toilet doesn’t get a lot of use, but on this morning its proximity was appealing and I decided to heed nature’s call. I also thought I heard a sound emanating from the toilet, but it was all so fleeting and in the fog of sleep-deprivation everything is a bit of a blur. I opened up the toilet seat and at first was repulsed by the dark mass in the toilet. Gross. I must have forgotten to flush last time it was used. So I closed the lid and flushed. And then opened it again. The dark mass was still there. Swimming. It was a rat. Swimming around in the toilet bowl, it's clawed paws and wet fur glistening. It was like a scene out of a horror movie.
Now, mind you, I am not scared of rats. People often don’t draw a distinction between being startled by something and scared of something. Rats don’t scare me, but this startled the stuffing out of me as it was so unexpected. I slammed the seat lid down and pondered my predicament. I have pacifist leanings and really didn’t care to kill the beast. So I flushed and flushed and flushed, figuring if the rat was smart enough to find its way there, then I'd provide an assist in helping him exit the same way. Then I proceeded to put a giant cinderblock on the closed toilet seat. I doubt I’ll ever go in there again. (Really why would I? There’s simply no way I could sit there and ponder my life knowing that at any moment a rat could swim up beneath me. Ouch. There are simply too many grotesque and painful things about that to ponder.)
A plumber I spoke to, later told me that a heavy rain can force sewer rats to higher ground. In this case, my basement toilet. And someone I know who owns some property in this town recently had the same thing happen at his warehouse, so I'd say my Rust Belt hometown has some residents in its sewers. Interestingly, National Geographic has a demo about this very topic, how a rat can get into your toilet. And I think I've learned a less from this: always keep the lid down.
So, has anyone else opened their toilet to find an unwanted visitor? Just curious how common this is....