Published June 2, 2017
Reykjavík is a harbour town, and like all harbour towns, it has rats. How many rats exactly is unknown, but they are not great in number, and have been on the decline. Granted, the climate isn’t exactly welcoming, but the resources are, and they can be found in many districts of Reykjavík.
You are still unlikely to see an actual rat scurrying along Reykjavík streets, although you might hear them without realising it when walking through any given side street. For the most part, rats travel through the city’s water drainage system. As such, it means they can sometimes get into sewers, which means they can and do get into toilets.
Yes, this is a thing
This has happened to me twice, once in the 105 postcode, in 2013, and again in the centre of 101, in 2014. In both cases, I was living in a basement apartment, which is where a rat would be most likely to make its first stop in search of air after entering a structure’s toilet drainage pipe system.
Once the rat gets to the top of an individual toilet’s drainage pipe, it reaches the reservoir of air above the porcelain rim that separates the water in the toilet from the drainage pipe. It will then hang out on the rim of the air reservoir for a while to catch its breath before either making its way back down the drainage pipe, or entering the toilet bowl itself.
On both of my occasions, the rat only made its presence known to me by presenting me with its tail, waving forlornly from the darkness of the toilet cave, at the bottom of the bowl. At this moment, there is only one thing you can do that will be to the benefit of both you and the rat: put the lid town, and empty the fucking tank on it. Lean on that flush until the water stops.
Listen. If you do not hear splashing or rat-paddling sounds, deign to lift the lid and check. If it worked like it should, you have sent it right down the drainage pipe to the mainline again, and you’ve rid your toilet of a rat.
Regardless of how few rats there are in Reykjavík, everyone will respond to them differently, depending on context. If you grew up here, rats in the city might be alarming to you. If you grew up some place with more rats, then you have no reason to overreact should you happen upon one here. I mean, these rats didn’t even ask to be here.
The bright side is this: if we maintain proper curbside sanitation and stop drunkenly spilling fries in the street, we can probably peacefully coexist with a rat ecosystem in our sewers, living on what we throw away, making it useful for them and us alike. There’s absolutely no need to panic.