What Animals Can Actually Swim Up Your Toilet?

For those of you who’ve seen Ghoulies II (1988) or Dreamcatcher (2003), you may have left the cinema with an urge to check under the toilet seat the next time you perched on the porcelain throne. In both movies, monsters either enter from - or exit into - the toilet bowl. In reality, we know monsters don’t exist. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing out there that can pay you an unexpected visit...


In 2015, National Geographic released a video on YouTube showing how easily rats can swim up your plumbing and into your toilet. We’ve linked directly to the moment a rat distorts its body, finds air pockets in the u-bend (to take a quick pit-stop) then pops up in the centre of the toilet bowl.

This is because rats are little athletes. Their rib cages are flexible allowing them to squeeze through any gap smaller than its head, about the size of a pound coin. This, coupled with a 3-minute lung capacity and the strength to lift a toilet lid, means the rodent-ninjas can enter and exit plumbing with little resistance.

In fact, this problem has become so widespread, rat blockers exist. These gadgets only allow water to leave one way and nothing to return. There are a number of reasons why these aren’t always the best solution and, if this is something that you are having to resort to, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team for some advice.


Ok so to be clear, this is obviously not going to happen in the UK - which has only 3 native snake species - but the rest of the world are not so lucky.

When researching this article, we were appalled to read about a man in Thailand who had his nether regions bitten by a 10ft-long python. Like the rats mentioned above, this real-life monster had wiggled up through his plumbing only to be startled by the unfortunate man, causing the snake to strike.

An extreme example perhaps, but in Australia finding snakes in your toilet is not an uncommon occurrence. As the BBC reports, snake-catchers get called out to at least 4 or 5 toilet snakes a year.

But why would a snake want to swim up your toilet? There are two main reasons:

The first is that wherever prey goes - like rats mentioned above - the snakes will follow in search of their next meal.

The second is thirst, and this is reflected in the fact visits occur more often in the summer or during droughts.

If you do find yourself down under and find a snake in your dunny - DON’T FLUSH! This pushes the snake further down the plumbing and will make it harder when you take the correct approach and call a local snake handler.


Again, this is more for our cousins down-under, but funnel-web spiders don’t just crawl under toilet seats - they can also float into the bowl through the plumbing.

So how do they do it? Well, funnel-web spiders can’t swim, but they can trap air for breathing and buoyancy - and survive underwater for up to 30 hours. When combined with their small size, it’s easy to see how this can become a regular occurrence.

Having trouble with your plumbing?

Thankfully most people in the UK won’t have animals inviting themselves in through the u-bend, but we know how stressful plumbing issues can be.

If you have an issue with your plumbing then Bates Environment can help. From blockage removals to CCTV, we are on hand to assist.

Please use the contact form below and one of our friendly agents will get in touch: