Greetings, friends. Happy Throwback Thursday! As promised, I’m back to share another of my life’s crazy adventures that happened during my time away (which, since I’ve been off the grid a while, I guess technically counts as a Throwback). Do you remember the movie “Snakes on a Plane?” Well, my story’s title would be better suited as “Snakes in a Drain… and Frogs in a Toilet.”
Sister Michelle, Son Jeremy, and I purchased a house in mid-2017. It’s a 4/3, so we each have our own bathroom. It’s a wonderful house in a great neighborhood, but the previous owners didn’t necessarily do all the upkeep required, so we’ve been running into several problems that we’ve had to fix right away with little notice. That being said, when we encounter another unexpected issue, we just kind of palm smack our foreheads and shrug our shoulders, because from what all we’ve already encountered, we know we shouldn’t be surprised. When we moved in, one of the first things I did was replace all the weatherstripping around every door because for some reason, they all looked like a dog had teethed on them!
My bedroom and bathroom are an en suite, so they have a door between them and both also have doors that lead outside to the pool. My rooms were also added on ten years later than the rest of the house was built, so we often find that certain things were constructed differently than the rest of the house.
Now, keep in mind that I live in The Swamp Florida, and in this humid subtropical environment, we have a lot of reptiles, amphibians, and just creepy, scaly, slimy things that are supposed to live outside who often try to get inside. In my house, I’m the resident lizard / frog / *snake / and other creepy thing catcher, and when we get one of these critters where it doesn’t belong, I usually try to catch the displaced visitor and relocate them back outside. (*I don’t mind snakes if I know what kind they are, if they are babies, or if they are someone’s pet. Otherwise, no I don’t go out of my way to catch adult snakes, I turn and run like any other terrified red-blooded lady. Also, I won’t touch mice or rats unless they’re someone’s pet.)
So, one night, while the rest of the house was asleep, I was up late reading. When I was ready to get to sleep, I made a last trip to the restroom and as soon as I flipped on the light, I spotted a sizeable (about a third the size of my fist) frog sitting on the toilet seat! Figuring it squeezed in under the door from the pool area, I tried to catch it, but it kept jumping every time I got close. I opened the outside door, hoping I could just chase it out, but the little booger jumped into the toilet! It was late, I was tired, and I didn’t feel like chasing it around any longer, so I murdered flushed it! I felt bad that things turned out that way, but I figured it would survive and end up somewhere in the sewer where it could find its way to freedom.
The incident all but forgotten, it was about a week later when I was dealing with a particularly painful Lupus flare and I made a late-night trip to the restroom. If I’ve already been asleep, I don’t usually turn on the light, but I heard a noise, and something told me to flip the switch. There was another frog perched on the toilet seat, and this one was larger than my comfort zone to catch. (He was about three-fourths the size of my fist.) I was exhausted, in pain, and in no mood to break my neck trying to play hero. I opened the back door and intended to either catch it on the first try or just quickly shoo it outside and get back to bed. As I went to grab it, he jumped straight into the hole at the bottom of the toilet! So, with no remorse this time, I flushed it.
The next morning, I realized that there was a pattern going on here that I didn’t particularly care for, so I Googled “frogs coming up out of my toilet” to see if indeed that may have been what happened. Since I had recently replaced the weatherstripping, I found it hard to believe that two sizable frogs might be able to get inside through my door. One might be a fluke, but two in a week’s time was had to swallow. What I found on Google was that my late-night visitors did not likely come up thought my toilet from the sewer, but that they came down through my toilet from the roof! Yes, apparently, those aluminum pipes that stick out of the roof on most houses have a purpose: They are gateways for amphibians to get into your house to regulate air pressure in the house’s pipes. Who knew? They suggested that I cover the opening with a piece of something called a “hardware cloth” which isn’t a cloth at all, but is a wire mesh thing. I went out that afternoon and bought some, and now, several months later, I’m just waiting for my son to install it for me. But I guess just having it on hand did the trick, because after that, no more frogs.
Fast forward a few weeks. My lawn service did something that broke open a large piece of PVC pipe in my yard, right outside my bathroom window. They told me right away and said they would be back to fix it later that week. As promised, they were back within a few days and fixed it as good as new. No problem. Or so I thought.
A few more weeks passed, and again, I was dealing with the Lupus flare from hell, so I didn’t feel like even combing my hair, much less playing critter whisperer. I was using the restroom one evening, when I happened to notice a black hair tie on the floor by the sink. I knew if I didn’t pick it up, one of my cats would end up trying to eat it. But I hurt too much to bend over or kneel down. So, as I washed my hands, I attempted to pick up the hair band with my toe. And then it moved. And then I kicked, and the hair tie was flung across the room and started flopping around. And then I screamed like a little girl. And then Michelle and Jeremy came running. And then the hair tie started sidewinding. And then Michelle and Jeremy screamed. While in hindsight, I realize it was just a baby black racer snake, at the time, it was not where it belonged, and the shock of the hair tie coming to life and slithering around in my bathroom when I didn’t feel well was too much to handle. So, without thinking, I bent down, grabbed it, flung it into the toilet, and flushed!
(In retrospect, I think it looks like I probably spend a lot more time in the bathroom than I actually do!) I didn’t immediately think of the previously open hole in the PVC pipe, but I did reprimand Jeremy for not getting around to putting that hardware cloth up yet (though the large holes in the hardware cloth mesh wouldn’t have likely prevented that small of a snake from coming in anyway). I figured my newest visitor must have been blown up on the roof by the wind.
All was forgotten until a few days later when I was cleaning the kitchen. Now, of course we have a dishwasher, but when there aren’t many dishes, I prefer to just hand wash them in the right sink and let them dry in the left sink. I put away the clean dishes, removed the dish drainer, and scrubbed the sinks. Then I popped out the left side drain strainer to wash it, and that’s when I noticed another baby snake stuck to it! I
gasped shrieked and tossed it into the right sink where it did this creepy sidewindery thing, and before I could think any calm thoughts, I turned on the water and washed it down the garbage disposal! And then chopped it up in the disposal for a good 40 seconds.
I felt bad that I overreacted and didn’t try to save it, but by then, I was really starting to get skeeved out by all the vermin attempting to share my home! I immediately went to Google and identified the snake, and that’s when I learned that black racers lay around 20 eggs at a time. I realized then that the mama must have found her way into my broken PVC pipe and that I could soon expect about 18 more visitors!
I called my plumber and told him snakes were coming out from my drain, and he said that was pretty much impossible. Then I explained about the broken PVC pipe and that I figured on seeing 18 more of them, and that’s when he told me my best bet was to get a shotgun or learn how to run fast. I told him I’m a Democrat, so I don’t do guns, and that with my Lupus being hot, I wasn’t running anywhere quickly. So, he wished me good luck, and I was on my own again. I ended up boiling several pots of water and pouring them down each sink and shower drain, then I loaded a heaping amount of vinegar and baking soda down each drain, then, for good measure, I poured a good amount of lye from my soap-making business down each drain. (I believe I can now win the Cleanest Drains in the Neighborhood Award.)
Thankfully, since then, other than the occasional lizard, salamander, or tree frog that sneaks in through the front door sometimes, we haven’t had any more surprise visitors, though I do expect PETA will be giving me a call soon and revoking my request for membership.
Let’s talk: What kind of wildlife do you encounter inside your house? When that happens, do you catch it and take it back outside, kill it immediately with no regrets, or scream and run? Did you know that the toilet plumbing vents out the roof of your house?