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Rats crawl through toilet into Massachusetts apartment

Brookline residents report rats crawling through toilet into apartment
Brookline residents report rats crawling through toilet into apartment 02:44

BROOKLINE - It's the recipe for a nightmare -  rats coming up through your toilet and into your homes. It's now happened to a woman in Brookline, Massachusetts twice.

"Two is more than I want. A couple nights ago, I went to go the bathroom, and I didn't realize the rat was already with me at that point hiding behind the toilet," said Betsy Childs, talking about the second rat that came up their toilet. "When I checked the bathroom, 15 minutes later it was gone. I am guessing went back the way it came." 

Childs first encountered the problem when her partner went to go the bathroom around 3 a.m. He opened the lid to see the rat pop its head out, then dive back into the toilet. They quickly reached out to their landlord for help. 

Numerous calls for rats in toilets

They in turn called the city looking for answers. The Brookline Health Department, along with the city's rat reports department, say have had numerous calls for the issue, but all but one is from single family homes. In the meantime, Betsy has left a full clothes hamper on the toilet lid just to make sure it stays closed. 

Betsy Childs Brookline
Betsy Childs says rats have crawled through her toilet into her Brookline apartment CBS Boston

"We have a precautionary flush, move the hamper, go, close the lid, and flush again thing going on right now," laughs Childs. "At this point this is the rat's house now. We should be charging it rent." 

The Greater Boston Plumbers Contractors Association (GBPCA) says rats can live in drainage pipes under the street with nothing to stop them from getting access to the lines of your home. They can crawl into the tiniest spaces and are not bothered by water. They say older homes may have fittings to prevent rat entry, but most newer homes do not. They may also be attracted to the smell from your garbage disposal, which the GBPCA says eventually runs into the same lines as your toilet. 

Rats can swim, are excellent climbers

Joe Dingwall, President of Catseye Pest Control, says rats can swim across large bodies of water, and are excellent vertical climbers. He says the sewer system in Brookline is one of the oldest in the country, and that heavy rains can cause rats to access some of the newer areas of the system and make their way to your home. 

"They are resilient things. When the nuclear fallout happens it will be cockroaches, them, and Twinkies," said Childs. 

Betsy reached out to social media for help with the problem. It turns out other Brookline residents have also gotten creative to fix it. One person created a ramp up to an open window in the hope that the rat would walk up and jump out. Another person began pouring bleach down the toilet. Childs is in the process of having a plumber install a one-way flap. The device allows water to go down but blocks the rat from getting up through the pipe. 

"I mean, we also have some bleach that we sometimes top off in our bowl a little bit," said Childs. 

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