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There’s been a rash of recent reports about iguanas popping up in toilets in South Florida.

I’m not sure where I’d want an iguana to pop up. But I’m quite sure it’s not in my commode.


Then again, I admit I’ve had a bit of potty PTSD ever since the time I made a middle-of-the-night run to the loo, dropped trou and almost sat on a Cuban tree frog.

The little bugger had swum up through the pipes and perched himself right on the edge of the seat where I was preparing to sit.


Iguanas popping out of South Florida toilets

A spiny-tailed iguana slithering in a toilet bowl is probably not what homeowners want to see when they need a trip to the bathroom. “Of all the issues you can have with iguanas,” one trapper said, “it’s probably the most urgent.”By Chris PerkinsOct 14, 2021at8:51 AM

If I hadn’t turned on the light mid-squat, I probably would’ve ended his life — and traumatized myself into wearing a diaper for the rest of mine.

That frog, though, wasn’t my only latrine liaison with a Florida critter.

Another took place one morning in my shower when I saw what I thought was a pile of my daughter’s hairbands on the floor tiles near a shampoo bottle.

I wasn’t wearing my contacts. So I didn’t think much of stepping on the hairbands to pick up the bottle … until the hairbands started squirming beneath my foot.

Turns out, the hairbands were actually a batch of baby ring-necked snakelets.

So I jumped out of the shower, naked as a jaybird, scooped them up in a cup and got ready to dump them in the toilet when I remembered another headline I’d read: “Ball python slithers out of toilet, bites Florida man on arm.”

He was lucky it was his arm.

That’s when it dawned on me: These aren’t normal problems. These are Florida problems.

Taking a potty break shouldn’t feel like a scene out of a creature feature. Yet here in the jungle we call home, we have stories of snakes, scorpions, frogs and more invading our most private of quarters.

Just ask Billy Corben. The famed Florida filmmaker behind the Netflix documentary series, “Cocaine Cowboys,” encountered a unique toilet trauma just a couple months ago at his grandfather’s house when he lifted the lid and discovered a hearty crab with his claw raised, ready to clamp down on anything that came nearby.

Iguanas in the toilet. Snakes in the shower. Welcome to Florida! | Commentary

“I was ready to go. I had to go,” Corben said. “But right as I was about to spin around, I looked down, cursed and leapt back three feet.”

Corben said he’s always known crazy critters roam this state, “But I didn’t expect the toilet to be Jurassic Park.

“It was a substantial size creature, and it was ornery,” Corben said. “He had made his way through the pipes. His journey was done. And there was no way for him to get out short of grabbing onto whatever came his way.”

Corben says he still has bad dreams about his unexpected crustacean confrontation. And he’s not alone. There are Florida stories galore about crabs, snakes, bats and more.

In fact, when I asked Sentinel readers and friends to share their own bathroom bugger experiences on social media, the stories were pretty remarkable.

Diane found a scarlet kingsnake in her guest shower. Actually, she said her guest found the nonvenomous, red-snouted serpent, which made for wonderfully Floridian welcome.

Jenna said her toddler once found a frog that was as “fat as a football” in the toilet, which “caused a huge impediment to our potty training.”

Carla found a frog so big it filled her toilet. Her apartment’s maintenance man was scared to get it out.

Mark found a large hairy tarantula in his drywall. (And has yet to provide a satisfactory answer as to why he didn’t burn down his house in response.)

And Jami said she got an unpleasant surprise when she was stung by a scorpion that had, unbeknown to her, snuggled up in a bathroom towel.

Yes, because, as if toilet iguanas weren’t enough, we also have three varieties of scorpions in our sunny state — the Florida Bark, the Hentz Striped and the Guiana Striped. None are considered lethal. All will give you nightmares.

One website warned that Florida scorpions sometimes crawl inside houses and “hide in places that may startle you.” I tried to think of any place I might find a scorpion inside my house that wouldn’t startle me. I could not.

Oh, and Angie offered up a Florida trifecta, saying she’d found a “Frog on my toilet, snake in my shower and scorpion on my toilet” … which sounds like the title of the world’s worst country song.

These vignettes help explain why Floridians should familiarize themselves with one of the Sunshine State residents’ most valuable household accessories — the vent cover.

All plumbing vents, usually on the roof, should have some sort of screened cover to prevent creatures that look like they’d star in a Roger Corman film from ending up in their pipes.

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Which leads us back to Billy Corben and what I call the Corben Code of Commode Caution:

“I now open the toilet with a broomstick from the safety of several feet away.” If a broomstick isn’t handy, Corben suggested you use your feet.

“Basically,” he said, “approach a closed toilet seat with caution. You wouldn’t jump into a pool without looking first. The same rule applies to sitting on a toilet in Florida.”

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