Help! I’ve Got Critters In My Pipes!


Forget lions and tigers and bears. When it comes to plumbing problems, you should really be thinking about frogs and snakes and squirrels. Oh my!

Believe it or not, some critters can crawl, creep or wriggle their way into your pipes, causing clogs of a truly surprising variety. Animal invasion may be an unlikely plumbing problem, but if it happens, it will probably start with a baffling flood and only end when you grab a broom and frantically sweep the poor offending creature out the door.


It all starts with the sewer. Waste water leaves your house and heads to the sewer (or your septic tank) through your plumbing pipes. But most of the time, those pipes are dry, and sewer gases can travel back up them into your home. How do you solve that problem? With something called a stack pipe. This fixture allows sewer gases that may build up in your waste pipes to vent out of the top of your home, ensuring that less-than-pleasant smells don’t make their way back in. Pipes from each of your drains also have traps, or curves, that perform the same function.

Basically, what this means is that you have an open line from the top of your house into your plumbing system. A truly determined (or just confused!) critter can make its way into your pipes from the roof. If it tries hard enough, it can navigate the traps in one of your pipes, making its disoriented egress into your toilet or your kitchen sink.


There’s a simple way to avoid this problem: put either a DIY mesh screen or a store-bought protector on your stack pipes. Fixed!


If you investigate your overflowing toilet and discover something with eyes, you need to know how to handle the critter in question. Read on for a rundown of the most common offenders and how to deal with them.

1. Possums

Believe it or not, a baby possum can easily fit through a stack pipe. If you head to the bathroom and get stopped by your favorite marsupial, don’t try to pick it up! Possums are known for carrying rabies, and they’re biters, to boot. Leave the possum in the potty (and close the lid!), call animal control, and ask the neighbors to borrow their facilities until a professional can deal with the problem.

2. Lizards

If you’re having a particularly dry summer, the lizard population in your yard may be looking for water wherever they can find it — including your plumbing. Most lizards are completely harmless, but they’re fast, and you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on the little guys. Don’t worry. He doesn’t want to be dealing with you any more than you want to be dealing with him! If you give him half a chance, he’ll head for the hills. Just open the back door and sweep him on out.

3. Frogs and Toads

Ribbit! Everyone’s favorite amphibian will likely have a hard time making it to your roof — unless it’s a tree frog, which are prevalent across the southeast, and make their raucous presence known every summer evening. There are six families of frogs in North Carolina, and none of them is harmful, so catch him if you can!

Toads, on the other hand, are potentially poisonous. The invasive cane toad, while rarely deadly, will cause an unpleasant reaction if you touch him and will make your pets sick if ingested. If your jumper is brown and warty, try to catch him with gloves on, trap him inside a bowl, or just get him to jump to the floor so you can sweep him outside.

4. Snakes

This one probably goes without saying, but unless you’re certain that you’re dealing with a harmless species, don’t catch a snake with your bare hands. There are many snake species native to North Carolina, and while some are harmless — the rat snake, for instance — some, like the famous copperhead, are truly deadly. Watch out, in particular, for any snake with variegated color or a triangular head — it’s more likely to be venomous.


While we can’t remove your critter, Newcomb and Company can fix your plumbing problem! We even have a 24/7 emergency line for plumbing crises. Whether you need to discuss animal dangers or just schedule regular service,we’ll be glad to hear from you.

Need help? Call now.