skip to main content

Public Health - Seattle & King County

Seattle Sewer Baiting Program

Sewer baiting for rats

The Seattle Sewer Baiting program aims to control rats in Seattle's sewer system.

Our program provides the following services:

  • Responds to citizen complaints about rats in their toilet.
  • Tracks neighborhoods that have are impacted by sewer rat activity.
  • Performs routine inspections and baiting for rats in impacted neighborhoods.
  • Investigates suspected side-sewer breaks.
  • Educates communities about preventing and controlling rodent infestations when sewer rats are a concern.

Diagram of how a rat gets in your toilet How does a rat get in your toilet?

Rats get up into toilets by following the scent of food washed down drains from your home to the sewer system. While searching for food they can climb your home's stand pipe (the pipe that connects your homes drainage to the sewer). Unable to reach the kitchen sink they can come up into the toilet bowl.

What do I do if I have a rat in my toilet?

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

Keep rats out of sewer pipes

Rats have a great sense of smell. They can follow the scent of food washed down drains by garbage disposals and dish washing.

  • Keep your kitchen sink rinsed clean and use garbage disposals as little as possible.
  • Clean your drain! Use 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar and rinse with boiling water. You can also use 1 cup of bleach and rinse with boiling water.
  • Clean your kitchen sink drain monthly.
  • Never pour grease or oils down the drain.

Who do I call if I find a rat in my toilet?

If you find a rat in your toilet you may report it to us by issuing a complaint on Environmental Health Services Portal or call 206-263-9566.

If you live outside of the city of Seattle and you find a rat in your toilet you may want to contact your city's public utilities department or your local sewer district. You can locate their contact information in the government pages or blue pages of the phone book or on your utility bill.

Rat burrow to be tested with dye How do rats get into the sewers?

Rats get into sewer systems through broken or faulty side-sewers. The Seattle Sewer Baiting program can investigate a suspected faulty side-sewer connection when rats are a concern. A broken side-sewer can be identified by pouring a colored dye down a rat burrow. If the colored water shows up in a near by sewer then the side-sewer may have a break. When the dye test indicates a broken side-sewer, it is recommended that the homeowner hire a licensed contractor to make necessary repairs.

Rat burrow to be tested with dye

Green dye in sewer from burrow What about rats in storm drains?

Occasionally, rats are seen going into a storm drain. In most cases the rats are ducking into the storm drain just to avoid a predator or from being seen. In some parts of Seattle, rats may gain access to the sewer if the sewer system is a combined drainage and sanitary sewer system.

Green dye in sewer from burrow
Contact us

For rat in the toilet questions or to report a rat in the toilet call 206-263-9566 or write us through Environmental Health's online services portal.