Earthworm + Toilet = Love?
January 1, 2006 10:42 PM   Subscribe

For the second time, I just found a live earthworm in our basement toilet.

We have an infrequently used toilet in our basement. Twice in the last month I've found an earthworm (alive! moving! looking happy!) in the toilet water. How does this happen? Is it indicative of something wrong with our septic system? When I poked around on google, all I found was this. For what it's worth, this worm definitely is not a prank. Could the subterranean location of the toilet have anything to do with this?
posted by arielmeadow to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I suspect you have a cracked underground waste pipe. Worms find their way in through the crack. That or you have some friggin ambitious worms to be making their way through your finger system into the toilet.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:36 PM on January 1, 2006

My first thought matched Thorzad's. Earthworms eat organic matter in soil, so it isn't crazy to think they might be attracted to a nice dark, dry (infrequently used you said), "organically" laced pipe. But since worms can't breath underwater, can't swim afaik, and likely can't climb porcelain, I don't see how they could negotiate the toilet's trap.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:38 AM on January 2, 2006

I used to find earthworms living in a bucket in the basement we used to collect rainwater that would overflow. It always baffled me how they could be alive, but alive they were, though they were almost white from lack of sunlight or minerals. The only thing they had to sustain them was whatever washed into the bucket along with the rainwater.
So, to piggyback on the original question, how do these things stay alive?
posted by Iamtherealme at 1:06 AM on January 2, 2006

Earthworms don't have lungs... they absorb oxygen through their body surface, so if the water is adequately oxygenated, the earthworm can survive for some time.

I too would go with the theory about the cracked underground waste pipe.
posted by degnarra at 2:14 AM on January 2, 2006

Right - of course! I think we learned that in 3rd grade, but it's been a while since then. Just not something you think about often, I suppose. Thanks for the refresher, degnarra.
posted by Iamtherealme at 2:36 AM on January 2, 2006

Hate to answer a question with a question but...

Is there any chance your cat puts them there?
posted by Rev Dan Catt at 3:00 AM on January 2, 2006

My first thought was a cracked pipe, too, but is it possible they came from above, rather than below? A spider falling into a bath from the ceiling can't get out, and you are underground.
posted by Leon at 5:11 AM on January 2, 2006

Now you have a pet! Every couple of days, pop a squat and leave him something to eat.
posted by camworld at 12:16 PM on January 2, 2006

Response by poster: Rev Dan Catt, we don't have any pets.

No chance that the worm came from above: the basement is bone dry, and the ceiling above the toilet isn't leaky.

I've gotten used to the idea of worms in water: our house came with a tiny little fish pond. At first I thought I was saving worms from the pond -- then I kept finding them right back in it, and realized that they liked it there.
posted by arielmeadow at 9:55 PM on January 2, 2006

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