Toilet stories: Separating the myths from the legends

Ever heard a funny or downright creepy story about a toilet? We sure have. From flushing goldfish down out to sea, to creatures swimming upstream and biting your bum, there are a lot of myths and urban legends out there – let’s try set the story straight:

Can you flush a gold fish out to sea?

Popularised by cartoons and Finding Nemo, this wacky myth is definitely that – just a myth. Flushed fish typically die quite quickly after being flushed down the toilet. From cold water to toxic chemicals, the sewage system is no place for a fish. So please kids, don’t try this at home (and most definitely do not try this in a porta loo).

Snakes can swim up toilet pipes

While this one is possible, it’s thankfully very unlikely. In the few instances when snakes have been found in toilets, it’s been unclear as to whether the snake got there through the toilet pipes or not.

Back in 2010, a snake was found in a toilet of a 19th floor apartment in New York – and ever since those of us who heard the story have always checked the toilet bowl twice before taking a seat. Snakes are known to be strong swimmers and can hold their breath, but chances that they’d want to venture into the sewer system voluntarily are slim. If you live in an area where snakes are common, just take the necessary precaution 😉

Toilets swirl in opposite directions

They say water swirls in different directions in toilets on opposite sides of the equator. Due to the rotation of the earth, the Coriolis effect causes hurricanes and storms swirl counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. People have used this same theory to claim toilets flush in opposite directions.

However, this is simply not true. The direction on the toilet flush is dependent on the plumbing mechanism – which can differ from country to country, but unfortunately has nothing to do with the rotation of the earth.

Elvis died on the toilet

The King did indeed die on the toilet, and so did George II of Great Britain, comedian Lenny Bruce and Academy Award winner Judy Garland. The top two most common causes of death on toilets are heart attacks and drug overdoses – often both hand in hand. Not the most glamorous way to go.

Before the 1700’s all documented deaths on the toilet were due to assassinations. Noblemen were often stabbed with spears when they were at their most vulnerable on the loo – some through the door and others from under the toilet seat! Yikes.