A St. James couple got quite the squirrelly scare early Wednesday morning when they heard an animal thrashing about in their bathroom toilet.

It turned out to be a cold, wet, filthy squirrel that was trying to get out at about 7 a.m., said Angela Campbell.

“At first I thought it was a rat, I was more in shock, I wasn’t necessarily afraid,” said Campbell Wednesday afternoon.

“It sounded like a giant fish in a bowl … The poor thing, I don’t know how it survived.”

Campbell said she and her partner noticed their two dogs were “bothered by something” starting at about 5 a.m., but it wasn’t until they heard the ruckus in the bathroom that they found out why.

She used barbecue tongs to get the squirrel out of the toilet and into the tub, where she washed it with small buckets of water, then took it outside on the deck.

“It did not make a fuss as it was too weak,” said Campbell, adding that another squirrel came up the deck stairs aggressively and then climbed up one of the home’s outdoor walls.

At this point, Campbell wisely made her way back indoors, while the toilet squirrel made its way to a spot on the fence with sunlight. It looked like it was OK.

Campbell said the city’s water and waste department is currently doing repair work on her street and believes the critter may have gotten in through a pipe.

However, she said some of her co-workers have mentioned other possibilities, including that the squirrel got into the pipes from the vent stack in the roof.

Metro called the city and a spokesperson said they’re looking into this incident.

Over her lunch hour, Campbell went home from work to check on her dogs and the house.

“Before I lifted the toilet seat, I was tapping on the bowl” in case there was something in there, she added with a laugh.

City spokesperson Tammy Melesko said the street on which Campbell and her partner live is in a combined sewer district, which means a single pipe collects and carries both sewage and surface runoff from rainstorms and snow melt to the sewage treatment plant.

“The street drainage catch basins (curb inlets) are connected to the combined sewer that services homes in the area, so there is a direct pathway from the street into a home,” said Melesko in an email to Metro.

“It is possible that a squirrel, being a rodent, could find its way through a curb inlet, into the sewer, up a four-inch home sewer service, through the internal plumbing and into a toilet.”

Melesko clarified that this would not be a result or connected in any way to drinking water pipes or the city’s water main cleaning program.

As for the toilet squirrel, it has become a Winnipeg celebrity, with its own Twitter account and several media outlets vying for interviews with its rescuer Campbell on Thursday.

More squirrel news: Regina squirrels with tails stuck together saved by vets

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