The Rattlesnake in the Toilet Proves Your Childhood Terrors Were True

The McFadden family of Jones County, just north of Abilene, is made of exceptionally sturdy stuff. Last week, one of the children - a 4-year-old - lifted the toilet lid for routine purposes and came eye-to-eye with a diamondback rattlesnake rising up from the hidden depths of the household plumbing. The little boy, who somehow did not die of sheer terror on the spot, tried to flush the intruder back from whence it came. When this did not work, he summoned his mother, who used an arsenal of garden tools to dispatch the snake to its eternal rest. The family later summoned a removal service, which discovered an additional 23 rattlesnakes - excuse me, that should be an ADDITIONAL 23 RATTLESNAKES, nesting comfortably in the cellar and other corners beneath the house. We presume the McFaddens then resumed their daily routine. What would you do? I can tell you what I would have done: Burned the house down, liberally sprinkled the charred remains with holy water, and checked myself into a mental home. I have a healthy regard for all nature's creatures, but don't think I could recover from the shock of seeing one - a venomous reptile in particular - emerging from that specific plumbing fixture. Incidents like the Abilene Toilet Snake tend to set off a little flurry of news coverage, incident round-ups confirming that, yes, you worst childhood terrors might actually be real. What child has not been just as petrified at the notion of the thing in the toilet (spider, snake, alligator) as by the monster under the bed, the escaped convict in the attic, the corpse behind the shower curtain? These are dark and primal fears, because they strike at the place we ought to feel safest: Home. Combine this with the murky Freudian ambivalence about, well, the purpose of the water closet, and you have a recipe for trauma. Because it is the journalist's task to ferret out the facts, let's review a brief primer on what can and cannot crawl through the pipes and emerge from your toilet. Warning: The list is longer than you might think. Snakes? Check. The Abilene Incident is not an isolated occurrence. Boa constrictors, pythons, cobras have all been involved in documented instances. Last May, a gentleman in Thailand described from his hospital bed the horror of having an enormous snake latch onto a vulnerable part of his anatomy as he was seated for a personal function. "The snake was yanking very hard," said the victim, Attaporn Boonmakchuay, who described trying to prise the reptile's jaws apart while his wife and neighbors rushed to his aid. Experts - yes, there are experts in this unique field - say snakes enter the plumbing system in pursuit of rodents, which constitute a peril of their own. Last spring, counsellors in Cork County, Ireland issued a public warning for toilet lids to be kept closed when not in use after an elderly man was bitten on his nether region by a waterborne rat. If, at this point, you do not have your hands clasped to either your noggin or your nethers in mortal terror, I salute you. There is more. In a comprehensive article headlined "A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks," Slate cites incidents involving snakes, rats, and squirrels. "A few years ago, a friend of mine found a live rat in her toilet," wrote one commenter to the Slate story. "It didn't even happen to me, and I'm still traumatized from it." Other incidents, verified by law enforcement or wildlife specialists, have involved opossums, frogs, spiders, and a species of carnivorous lizard that can hold its breath for half an hour. Country music singer Brett Eldredge recently took to Facebook to document his own snake-in-the-toilet shock, with accompanying video. In December, a cobra estimated to be 8 feet long was pulled from a toilet in South Africa, but dove back down and and has not been found since. Meanwhile, back in Abilene, the courageous McFaddin family is going about its business. The owner of the wildlife removal service that located and removed the 23 rattlesnakes that had not yet found their way into the toilet defended the reptiles: "They're actually very, very amazing creatures that are really misunderstood," he told CBS news, adding that the 23 snakes found beneath the McFaddin residence were released into the wild. "There are irrational fears around them." Fine. We should all be defenders of wildlife.But when it comes out of your toilet, fear seems to be the rational response.   Continue reading...

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