There are few home emergencies as serious as when your toilet works in reverse. But besides plumbing disasters, it’s still possible that some bizarre items can find their way through your plumbing and right up into your bathroom—including animals. And if you’ve ever wondered if it were possible for a snake to get into your home through a toilet, experts explain precisely how they can turn your bathroom into an entryway. Read on to see if your home is at risk of this type of reptile invasion.
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First and foremost, it’s important to remember that while they may not be ideal company, snakes are far from what can be considered pests. Unlike rodents, they don’t carry dangerous diseases or bacteria and are unlikely to cause damage to your yard, garden, or home. They can even act as a natural deterrent against the very mice, rats, toads, slugs, and other pests you’re trying to keep away. But there’s still a line when it comes to how close is too close with a house crashing reptile.
“Although snakes bring a lot of positive impact to the ecosystem, you’d rather not have them anywhere in your home,” Eddie Connor of Connor’s Pest Control tells Best Life. “If you encounter snakes in and around your house, they are most likely looking for food sources and shelter.”
According to experts, many snakes can find their way indoors through cracks in your home’s foundation but can also sneak through gaps between pipes and your exterior wall, gaps around doors and windows, dryer lines, AC vents, or poorly closed garage doors. “In order to prevent visits from our resident reptiles, you’ll need to seal up that basement,” Andrew Christopher, owner of Western Mass Wildlife Removal, previously told Best Life. “Common entry points are leaky or open windows, rotted sills, and drafty bulkheads.”
Because of their slim bodies and dexterity, most homeowners may not be as surprised to find a snake in their basement, garage, or attic. But many may be horrified to know that discovering one of them in your toilet bowl isn’t just the stuff of urban legends: In fact, several incidents have proven that your bathroom plumbing can be a viable entryway for them into your home.
According to experts at home design website Hunker, this terrifying scenario is possible thanks to how plumbing design works in many homes. Even though your toilet may appear to be part of a closed system, it’s often connected to a vent stack that runs from your roof down to the main sewer, typically curving before connecting to a soil stack. In some cases, snakes can enter it—occasionally searching for food or chasing a rodent—and fall into the system. They’re then forced to crawl their way back up through pipes, where they can sometimes end up in the waste lines that connect to your home’s toilet.
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Unfortunately, even homes not attached to a sewer can be at risk of a snake sneaking in through drains, plumbing, and toilets. A loose cover on a septic tank or a break somewhere in a sewer line can also provide an access point, according to Hunker. And while it’s unlikely they’ll find their way to upper floors, it’s possible they could climb high enough through plumbing to reach a ground floor bathroom.
If you ever find yourself in a rare situation where there’s a snake in your toilet bowl, avoid the temptation to run out of the bathroom before closing the lid, Hunker advises. Otherwise, the snake may be able to slither out and hide somewhere else. They also recommend safely trying to look at the animal’s features: While it’s unlikely a poisonous variety has found its way into your lavatory, they can usually be distinguished by their triangular head, thin neck, and thick bodies. On the other hand, non-venomous varieties—which are more likely to find their way inside—typically have long, slender bodies, small heads, and round pupils, Hunker writes.
If you’re concerned that snakes may be making their way inside through your plumbing, Ray Mitchell from Mitchell Pest Services suggests pouring a cup of bleach down the drain once a week to get rid of any eggs they may have laid in the pipes or near a sewer connection. More importantly, he suggests putting a screen over any vent openings in your home’s plumbing to ensure that snakes are kept out—and other animals, for that matter.
Once you’ve installed a vent cap, it’s still essential to check and clean it regularly, Hunker advises. Otherwise, poor venting in your plumbing system could lead to sewer smells or slower draining in your home—which may be the only thing worse than a snake surprise.
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