I was inspired by the “Identify this poop” thread (sorry I don’t know how to link) and hoped someone here might be able to at least offer a plausible explanation for a mystery that has bothered me for years.
Note: I had not been disturbed by any night sounds (and I’m a very light sleeper) nor seen any evidence of critters prior to this bright spring Sunday morning. There were no holes in any window screens.
I was getting my-then toddler daughter ready for church, combing her hair in the bathroom on the second floor of the house. This bathroom is separated into two rooms: One with the tub, toilet, vanity and a window and a second vanity separated by a door (so that someone could brush their teeth while another is taking a bath in privacy, for example.)
After combing her hair at the interior vanity, I wanted her to use the potty (toddler). I went to the exterior bathroom, OPENED THE LID (critical information) to the toilet and saw something floating in the bowl. My first thought was that she had put a stuffed animal in the toilet but as I peered more closely. I realized none of her toys had CLAWS or a perfect bottle-brush tail. I realized I was looking at a drowned squirrel and craven that I am, I shut the lid, called my husband and asked him to fish out the “toy” daughter had put in the john as I had to rush to get her to church. And fled. He later confirmed that it was a dead squirrel.
So, my question: How? Lid was DOWN. It doesn’t seem plausible the squirrel could have entered through the pipe. There was no evidence of a crazed squirrel rampaging around the house and flinging itself into the bowl. How did it get there? Speculation welcome.
That seems sensible but I don’t see how I would have failed to notice a squirrel in the house. Although I think of them as rats with good PR agents, they don’t seem to be as surreptitious as rats—I’d think a squirrel would be madly frantic.
Not sure why you think that a pipe cannot be the answer.
The pipe into which the toilet drains is generally a vertical pipe that actually extends upward through the roof, ending in those tiny black pipes that are scattered around various roofs. Toliet waste vent.
Generally, there is some sort of valve in the system to reduce the likelihood that animals, insects, leaves, etc. will enter and clog the vent, but a curious animal (particularly a young one with a smaller size and more curiosity), can defeat the valve and get into the pipes. The largest exit pipe such a critter will be able to find (once past the vent valve, but unable to re-open it), will lead to the toilet where, with a closed lid, the animal may be trapped and drown.
Generally the vent valves do their job and prevent animals from getting in, but they can be defeated by an animal that falls into the pipe and then thrashes around on the vent trying to get out.
Thank you, tomndeb–this is actually what I was looking for. Some confirmation that the poor critter might have come up through the pipe and wasn’t actually carousing around the house while we slept (despite their diurnal nature.) I’ve had squirrels in the attic (at another time) and had to listen to one that fell between the wall joists and screamed a squirrely scream all night long. That was most trying.
Checking around, I have found that many vent stacks do not even have a valve, relying on the small diameter and odor to keep out critters. If that is the case, there are a number of vented caps than can be placed over the end of a vent stack to prevent a recurrence of the OP’s problem.