In Portland, the silent and elusive sewer rat poses a unique challenge, finding its way into homes through the most unexpected route—the toilet!
Sewer rats crawling up through the toilet sounds like an urban legend born out of a homeowner's deepest nightmares, but it's a real phenomenon.
It's also a phenomenon that's common here in Portland, thanks to our pernicious house mouse problem. We're one of the rattiest cities in America. Our Portland rodent control problem is even on the rise. The city says there has been an increase in rat reports on the See - Click - Fix app.
How do sewer rats get into Portland toilets?
The rat uses its sharp claws to climb from the sewer pipes into your home's plumbing. They then get into the U-trap of your toilet.
There's a pocket of air inside the toilet, which allows it to take a quick breathing break before it continues its final journey.
Of course, if it can get out of the toilet, it will now have the run of your home.
The rat's journey depends on their hinged ribs, the same anatomy that allows them to squeeze into openings no larger than a quarter.
They also get a great deal of mileage out of their swimming ability, which is excellent. A rat can tread water for 3 days and can hold their breath underwater for three straight minutes.
What should you do if you find a rat in your toilet?
First, close the toilet lid to trap the rat.
Next, get liquid dish soap. You can quickly open the lid and back up long enough to squirt the dish soap into the toilet. This breaks the surface tension of the water and strips oil from the rat's fur. The rat's fur is part of what makes rats such excellent swimmers. The oil makes them more buoyant because oil and water don't mix!
Next, close the lid and start flushing the toilet. This can force the rat back down into the sewers where it belongs.
If the rat gets out of the toilet, try closing the door and tucking a towel in the gap. Set a trap for the rat. Multnomah County recommends snap traps and warns residents to steer clear of poison baits.
Whether you capture the rat or not, pull on a pair of rubber gloves and wear a mask. You should clean and bleach the toilet and surrounding area as if your life depends on it. Given the number of diseases rats carry, you want to avoid exposure and outbreaks.
Can rodent control services help with sewer rats?
Most people will never see more than one rat in their toilet, if it ever happens at all. So you generally won't need to get help from a pest control company, as it will usually be a one-rat event.
However, you can take a preventative measures such as installing special valves or guards on your drain pipes that block rats from entering.
Of course, you should block access for rats and other pests in all other areas of your home, too. Call Croach® for an inspection and exclusion services to avoid pest problems altogether.
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