As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t mind taking responsibility for most of the daily operations of our household. However, I do draw the line at spiders. And all types of bugs, really. I don’t do rodents. And I now have established that I am 100 percent not in charge of chipmunks in the toilet.
That’s why I was desperately screaming for help, in a screeching banshee cry, on a recent Sunday morning.
“Help me!” I shrieked, waking up the rest of my family members who assumed the house must be burning down from the tone of my wail. “Help! Help! Someone help me!”
It happened so quickly.
I’m always looking for an interesting nature photo. I noticed a large dragonfly hanging on the screen of the window right outside the kitchen. I opened the door and tiptoed around the corner to grab my camera, hoping not to disturb the flying insect before I could get a picture. During the minute that the sliding-glass door was open, something small and brown darted through the door and into the house.
It was running frantically down the hallway and around the dining room, searching for some way of escape. I knew immediately that coaxing a chipmunk out of the house was not in my job description. I called for my 16-year-old son and waited on top of a bar stool until he lumbered up the stairs.
My son is a highly capable and dependable creature. But he doesn’t move quickly, especially at 8 a.m. on a Sunday. And especially when his mother is freaking out about something.
“What?” he groaned as he approached the top of the stairs.
“There’s a chipmunk in the dining room,” I stammered with far more fear in my voice than a 4-inch varmint should have elicited from me.
He shrugged, as if this was the most normal thing in the world.
Now, it was teen versus chipmunk. My son moved toward the it. The chipmunk scurried into the laundry room. I grabbed some large pieces of poster board, thinking we could form a wall to guide it toward the door.
But in an instant, the chipmunk had darted into the bathroom. It leaped into the air and landed with a splash in the toilet.
That’s when I lost my ever-loving mind.
“THERE’S A CHIPMUNK IN THE TOILET!” I was now screeching, with an urgency I must have reserved for some horrifying nightmare, like a stranger ripping my baby from my arms and throwing her in a river.
I have done some hard things in my life. But a chipmunk in the toilet? If it weren’t for my 16-year-old, I would have had to close the door and declared that bathroom out of service until I could find someone to help. There was no way. On Earth. I was going to scoop a flailing rodent out of the toilet.
I reminded myself that I don’t do chipmunks. I have given birth four times. I have changed diapers. I have cleaned up vomit. But I was sitting this one out.
I ran into the living room to stand on top of the couch.
At first I could hear the water splashing, and imagined the rodent struggling to keep its head up. When the splashing sounds stopped, I assumed the worst. I envisioned my practical son, matter-of-factly flushing the toilet, leaving me with the even bigger problem of trying to unclog a drowned chipmunk from our plumbing.
I learned three things about a chipmunk that morning.
A chipmunk can dart around the house faster than you can blink.
A chipmunk can leap incredibly high.
A chipmunk can tread water for an impressive amount of time.
By the time my son found a container large enough to scoop the little visitor out of the toilet, the miniature squirrel was floating with his head above water and his little furry hands doing a doggy paddle.
My biggest regret during this entire saga is that I didn’t grab my camera, which was still nearby from the dragonfly photo shoot. I could have at least taken one photo. Geez. If I would have captured some video, I would be going viral on the Internet right now.
Sadly, I wasn’t brave enough to even peek my head into the bathroom to see how a chipmunk looks in the toilet. So, I Googled it. And do you know what?
A chipmunk in the toilet is a real thing. There are dozens of photos of chipmunks in the toilet. It even made a list of the Top 5 creatures you might find inside your toilet.
I’ve had a lot of weird encounters with wild animals in my adult life. I was once attacked repeatedly by a bird that kept crashing into my head when I happened to walk down the sidewalk near its nest. One time an opossum moved into our garage, and I was terrified to take the garbage out for a week until animal control could come and remove it.
Recently, I was standing in my kitchen when a raccoon about the size of a Labrador ran up the side of the house, scurried around the pergola and ran back down. And amazingly, last summer, I walked into the gorilla house at the Brookfield Zoo with my camera at the exact moment a gorilla was giving birth!
But none of my animal adventures traumatized me quite like a chipmunk diving into my toilet. On the bright side, I have an advantage over all of the other people who have found a swimming chipmunk when they went to use the restroom.
At least I know how it got there.