What Lies Beneath: The Creatures Who Call Sewers Home

Previously on this blog we’ve discussed some of the weirder objects found in sewers and drains; seen the damage and flooding that fatbergs can cause; and even discovered the folks who take tours of sewers for fun!


In fact, blocked sewers have been in the news again – and this time the prime offenders are disposable wipes. Fit for wiping baby’s bottoms and clearing off makeup after a night out, they’ve become a major problem for Thames Water, who says they help in binding together fat deposits ‘like bricks and mortar’.

But today we’re not looking at the blocked drains Mansfield residents rely on, London, St Agnes Head, or anywhere else. We’re going to check out something far more eerie. Because, while we ground-lurkers often treat our British sewers with the ol’ out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, some under-dwellers dare call it home. Critters like…


When you think of creatures that live in sewers, the rat is without a doubt the first to spring to mind. Ok, probably not just a single rat; a horde of them, densely cramped together and cascading over each other in the fight for survival.

The rats you’ll find in sewers are a specific type – not that you’d want to stop and study them for too long. Sewer rats are actually brown rats. They grow up to about 10 inches long, originated in China, and live pretty much anywhere humans do.

So why do they live in sewers? There are a couple of reasons. A sewer is essentially a rat’s perfect home, since they’re keen swimmers, and their fur protects them against the damp and cold. Rats also have pretty poor vision, and in the dark tunnels of the sewer, sight isn’t the most important sense. Finally, there aren’t any predators in sewers – unless you count the folkloric Sewer Gators, and even then those amphibian beasts wouldn’t stand a chance against a hungry rat brood.

Tubifex Worms

Forget the humble earthworm – these guys are nothing like those cheery, skinny dawdlers. Tubifex worms can resemble some sort of bizarre plant, sitting at the bottom of lakes, rivers and – you guessed it – sewers.

These guys don’t require much oxygen to survive, and when they do need it, they just wave their tails around and grab as much as they can. As an added bonus, they’ll transform CO2 into O2 through their skin – which sort of makes them oxygen-wizards. That means they’re well-suited to polluted areas like sewers, where bacteria can be used as a food source.

The tubifex worm caused a bit of a stir back in 2009, when a video appeared online of a pulsating colony of them in an American sewer. Not one to watch, for those with weak stomachs.

London Underground Mosquito

Where do you reckon this pesky fella came from? The London Underground mosquito first came to prominence during WWII, when it would bite Londoners sheltering from The Blitz – as if they didn’t have enough to deal with, what with the Luftwaffe dropping bombs overhead.

But it’s not just Tube stations that carry this insect. They’re also found in sewers where, unlike their infamous – and deadly – cousins, they feast on rats and mice. It’s a prime location for the London Underground mosquito (or Culex pipiens f. molestus, if you’re a biologist), since they can’t stand the cold and breed all year round.

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

…Just kidding. Although nasty snapping turtles have been found in US sewers, there’s no evidence of them residing in UK drains.

The world beneath our feet is far more diverse than you could ever imagine, and it just goes to show how resilient any animal can be when it comes to survival. Of course, thankfully, when it comes to drainage unblocking services, we mostly deal with dead leaves, fatty deposits, collapsed pipes and tree roots. Think you require our services? Then all you have to do is contact us on 0115 822 6086 and a member of our experienced team will be absolutely delighted to assist with your enquiries.

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