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How to keep the rats from coming up through your toilet

Do not pick up a rat if one emerges from your toilet bowl. Slam the lid down and run for the dish soap. (Creative Commons-Michelle Tribe)

Portland isn’t the only city with rats in their toilets. Seattleites occasionally find rodents in their bowls as well.

“After a few years of doing this job, I’ve heard a few people get really upset about rats that have come out of their toilet,” Leah Helms with Public Health – Seattle & King County told KIRO Radio. “It kind of just happens randomly.”

The reports come in year-round, but Helms said there are likely more in the fall, prime time for finding a warm haven in your home.

Why the toilet?

Helms said the problem is actually your kitchen sink.

“We flush down food into our sewer system through our garbage disposal … and there are rats there,” she said.

Helms recommends keeping your sink clean and don’t use your garbage disposal a lot. To clean it out, use a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar, and then rinse it with boiling water. You can also use bleach and boiling water. Do it at least once a month.

“Keeping your sink and drain clean hopefully would prevent that food smell that might attract rats to your toilet,” Helms said.

If you’re one of the unlucky individuals who discovers a rat in your toilet, Helms said the first thing you want to do is stay calm. Keep the lid down so it’s not able to jump out. Squirt some liquid dish soap through the space in the lid. Helms said this helps break the water’s surface tension and also decreases some of the oil in the rat’s fur. Then simply flush the toilet. Keep flushing the toilet.

“Then hopefully the rat will go down the same way it came up,” Helms said.

It’s when people panic that things go bad. Helms said they’ll sometimes get calls from people who freaked out, let the rat escape, and are now dealing with a rodent in their home.

“At that point, they can either trap it themselves or call a pest control operator to come trap the rat,” she said.

Our tip: Look down before you sit.

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