Toilet Talk

My inner 13-year-old is always struggling to get out, so when I read this week’s reprint of the Slate article by Forrest Wickman entitled, “A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks”, there was no hope of containing my adolescent id. What precipitated Slate’s revisiting of this subject were news reports of a five-foot-long boa that had slithered out of a San Diego toilet earlier this week, but what I especially enjoyed about Mr. Wickman’s article was the following Times of Israel news report:

A man’s penis was bitten by a snake hiding in a toilet on Friday. According to an article in the Times of Israel, the man was sitting on the john when he was bitten and then “ran from the room in horror.” The man was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for “minor injuries.”

Less you think that dangers of snakes in toilets lie only in warmer more tropic climes than yours, Garrison Keillor on his Prairie Home Companion radio show sometimes warns of the danger of snow snakes in the upper Midwest. To prevent these snow snakes from biting you from behind, he hawks a safety seat add-on accessory for your toilet. This safety seat is locked, when not in use, to prevent snow snakes from sneaking into your house through the plumbing. When it is in use, the user is suspended a full three feet above the water, for their protection. I bet that that makes quite a splash!

While snakes attacking from toilets may grab all of the headlines they are not the only animal that attacks from below. Rats are common enough in the toilet bowls of one Seattle-area sewer system that the local government has posted a four-step method for dispatching the rodents. Jay, being a Seattle-area water professional, can you shed any additional light on this problem? I know that you normally do drinking water, but maybe you have heard about this too?

  • Stay Calm!
  • Keep the lid down so that it is unable to jump out.
  • Squirt some liquid dish soap in the toilet to help break the surface tension of the water. The soap degreases the oils on the rat’s fur so it cannot stay afloat in the water.
  • Flush the toilet! The rat will usually go back down the drain the same way it came up. You may need to flush multiple times.

I think that Wickman has overlooked the real danger here, which are not animals, but man himself. We encountered one such danger lurking in our Little Tokyo hotel room, last October. Yes folks, I’ve been sitting on these pictures since then. This toilet frankly scared the you-know-what out of me. I’ve never used a toilet before that also used an electrical outlet. Fortunately, we did not have any backup problems, if you know what I mean. The cute safety warning cartoons on the inside of the toilet seat did nothing to assuage my fear. I really do not need to have by butt burnt, while sitting on the toilet seat. Finally, the control panel for this toilet was more complicated than my first car’s dashboard. Come-on folks this is not rocket science. I did experiment with it, but since I’m of the school that one should either sh!t or get off the pot, it just seemed like a big waste of time.

Always remember to look before you sit. Let’s be careful in there!