As many people know, winter is a busy time of year, as there is a lot of hustle and bustle and moving about, and if you’re from Toronto, you know that everyone is constantly trying to get out of the cold to enjoy some quality time indoors. The same goes for rodents — in a busy metropolis, rats are trying just as hard as you are to stay indoors, and this means that hundreds and thousands of rats are moving away from the sewers and trying to make their sneaky little way into your home.

You may have heard the “urban myth” about rats climbing up into your bathroom through the toilet. Well, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that it’s no myth at all. In fact, many Toronto residents report a “toilet rat” encounter every year. You might be asking yourself, “How is this possible?” Well, there are a few theories as to why these rascal rodents end up in your toilet bowl.

First, rats are very good swimmers. We’re talking about the species that’s been finding its way aboard ships for as long as we’ve been building them, after all. Toilets are no big deal by comparison, especially for animals that can tread water for three days and hold their breaths underwater for three minutes. If the quickest route into your home is through a toilet pipe, a rat will find its way in if it has the proper incentive. Narrow pipes won’t stop them, either. Rats’ ribs are hinged at the spine, so they can collapse themselves to fit a narrow passage. If a rat’s head can fit, then its whole body can fit. And don’t think that a tricky or convoluted pipe system will stop them — mazes are their specialty.

Rats often make their nests in sewers at the edge of complicated pipe systems — systems which, if treaded carefully, lead right back up to your toilet. In large cities like Toronto, it’s even easier for rats to get around. Not only is it pretty easy for a rat to climb up a three-inch toilet drain pipe (most of the time there’s not even water in it), but many large metropolitan cities — Toronto included — have a combined sewer system, which means that the storm drains on the street and the pipes from the toilets all deposit their runoff in one place, which makes for one large hub of activity — a Rat Central Station.

When you combine the fact that a rat can swim for three days straight, that they can fit through holes the size of a quarter, that rats form highly stable family groups or colonies block by block in a city, this can mean trouble if they start to climb into your toilet to seek warmth and food. Rats are attracted to food morsels — in fact, evolutionary history has made rats almost entirely depended upon human waste. This means that rats will eat or drag caches of food that were flushed down the toilet, or may have been included human excrement. This idea may seem disgusting to humans, but it’s called coprophagy, and it’s part of the reason rats are so successful at surviving in a world that doesn’t want them; they’ll eat just about anything that floats by.

What happens if one of these rodents pops its head up in your toilet this winter season? You might think that you can simply flush a rat back down the toilet, but it’d be more likely to jump out than get flushed down. Once inside the house, you’ve got to trap the rat, or hope your pet cat will get it, because it won’t go back down the toilet water. The best solution is to contact a professional pest control specialist at Toronto Pest Exterminators. Our trained and certified technicians can help trap and remove any rats in your home, and also help you seal off or grate your toilet pipes so that you don’t see any repeat offenders. To learn more about the behavior patterns of these and other rodents, visit our website for comprehensive information.

If you see your toilet paper being eaten away at, or hear the lapping of water coming from your bathroom at night, you may have a rat problem. If you run into such a scenario this holiday season, do yourself a favour — keep the toilet seat and lid closed, and if you see a rat, slam it shut and call a pro at Toronto Pest Exterminators!