[UPDATE BELOW] Last night around 9 p.m., Kat Selvocki, a program manager at a non-profit group, was watching Carnival on DVD with her roommate in the living room of her third floor Prospect Heights apartment. When what to her wondering eyes should appear but an eight-inch long rat (not including the tail). Selvocki tells us she panicked at the sight of the pest (permissible under these circumstances), and quickly summoned her neighbor and his dogs. But when they returned, the rat had vanished. Selvocki insists that given the layout of her apartment, the only place it could have come from is the toilet bowl, where splashes of water were found around the toilet seat. They also found telltale gray/black hair inside the toilet.

"I freaked out," says Selvocki. "I do not deal well with rats. But the super came over and the four of us, including my neighbors' dogs, searched for the rat for an hour and could not find it. We saw it walking near the heater in the living room, so our current theory is that there are holes big enough in the heating vents for it to crawl into." Either that, or it's currently well-hidden in a closet and pumping out rat babies.

We've heard that construction in residential areas can sometimes stir up the rat population (Selvocki says there hasn't been any work nearby), and it's not unheard of for rats to surface in toilet bowls—just yesterday we recalled that classic anecdote of the toilet rat in the office of the Paris Review. We're waiting to hear back from the Department of Health on the frequency of rat sightings in NYC toilet bowls, but in the meantime we did a little Googling. UGH. It seems sewer rats are fairly common in Seattle, where one municipal website tells you exactly what to do if you find a rat in your toilet, swimming just inches from your genitals:

  • Stay Calm!
  • Keep the lid down so that it is unable to jump out.
  • Squirt some liquid dish soap in the toilet to help break the surface tension of the water. The soap degreases the oils on the rat’s fur so it can not stay afloat in the water.
  • Flush the toilet! The rat will usually go back down the drain the same way it came up. You may need to flush multiple times.

But what happens if that tough little rat won't go back down? You'll need to call an exterminator (immediately followed by a psychiatrist). And good heavens, here is video of an exterminator removing a rat from a toilet bowl. If you've never heard the bloodcurdling sound of a rat shrieking in terror, you simply haven't lived. Here's to peeing standing up and adult diapers FOREVER!

Exterminator Eddie Marco at Brooklyn Pest Control tells us:

I've dealt with it many times. The pipe is empty, the rat crawls through the pipe and up over the hump and into the porcelain. And he cant get back out. What I do? I flush it down! It happens all the time, especially if you live in the basement or a first floor apartment. As soon as they go up over that hump they're in the bowl. So they call me, I go in and just flush the toilet. 100 bucks!

But if it's managed to get out of the bowl, then you earn your money. If they leave the lid up, the rat can get out. Or, about a month ago, one of my employees got a call from a guy with a rat in his bathroom. This guy had the lid down, but he had one of those fabric covers over the toilet lid that wraps underneath the lid a little bit. So the rat was able to cling onto that and pry the lid open! My guy went in and beat it to death with a snow shovel.