When it comes to toilets, there’s a simple directional rule: everything goes downstream. When things move against the tide, then you have problems.
So as Tim Fraser was doing some laundry in his bathroom last Friday night, he became a wee bit disturbed when his toilet started spontaneously gurgling.
“I could see bubbles coming up and I thought ‘what the the hell is happening?'” he said, recalling that evening. Then he caught sight of a grey, furry head with a pair of pointy ears and saucepan eyes emerging on this side of the s-bend. Moments later there was a half-drowned possum sitting in his Fowler toilet bowl.
“It was like the toilet had given birth,” he said.
It’s not clear who was more startled, man or marsupial. But Fraser was first to react. He darted to the next room and collected his digital camera. As he began filming, he dialled a plumber friend who lived nearby and asked him to come over and lend a hand in the rescue. Fraser, 39, lives just north of the Brisbane CBD in an area near a large colony of the creatures. So he’s used to crossing paths with possums, but never quite like this before.
It quickly dawned on him that the only way the critter could have climbed in was through a 100mm-wide breather pipe for the toilet line.
This runs from the roof of his house, down the back wall before joining the sewage pipe at basement level and turning back up to the toilet – a distance of over 10 metres. The final leg of the possum’s fantastic voyage would have involved wriggling through the s-bend – a set-up that creates a water-filled seal between flushings.
“He was close to death and lucky that no one had used the toilet recently,” Fraser said, adding that he let the possum settle and catch its breath before helping it out of the bowl. Once clear of its porcelain prison, the possum made a dash for freedom. Hissing and snarling at its rescuers, it eventually bolted through an open door and back into its suburban habitat.
Fraser, who likes to tinker with computers and knows his way around the internet, then uploaded four short clips of the possum on to YouTube so he could share it with the world.
It’s more evidence that what used to known as a Kodak moment has now become a YouTube one. Surprisingly, the videos – Possum Climbs up through Pipe to Toilet – have not taken off, each only collecting a few hundred views. But with the internet being the echo chamber it is, everything is eventually noticed by someone, somewhere.
Arjun Ramachandran writes: According to Nigel Williamson, from Nigel’s Animal Rescue, possums have a habit of getting themselves into trouble.
“Every day of the week I pull a possum out of someone’s chimney – they wander around the roof trying to get inside and fall down the chimney,” said Mr Williamson, who has been rescuing animals for 23 years. “I’ve seen it all and done over 30,000 rescues in that time.”
In February, EnergyAustralia had to “wildlife-proof” up to a dozen sub-stations after a possum knocked out power at a substation in Avalon and left 15,000 homes without power. The possums had been using overhead powerlines as highways to safety from cats and foxes. – smh