Going to the toilet is a vulnerable time for a species that’s grown accustomed to having their private parts covered up. As such, haunting scenes from TV and cinema of spiders and snakes (On A Plane) catching people quite literally with their trousers down can sit heavy on the minds of anxious toilet users. These people may find the concept of an outhouse quite concerning, but surely there’s nothing more dangerous than a moisture-seeking frog to be found at the bottom of an outdoor basin? Think again, says Alaska.
Here to provide you with some serious nightmare fuel is the poor fortune of a woman who last week was bitten on her behind by what’s suspected to have been a black bear. The offending outhouse toilet was in Alaska’s backcountry where bears aren’t uncommon. The Alaska Department of Natural Resource warns on its website, “Nothing will guarantee your safety in bear country, but knowledge of bears and proper behavior greatly reduce your risk.” The information page estimates that 95 percent of the time it's people who are responsible for negative bear encounters. I think it’s safe to say, then, that the fate of Shannon Stevens sits firmly within the 5 percent exception. Though she admits to not checking the seat before sitting down, finding a bear beneath your butt surely constitutes an unforeseeable consequence of squatting with confidence.
Stevens was staying with her brother and his girlfriend at a remote yurt separated from an outhouse facility by about 46 meters (150 feet) when the attack occurred. They had accessed the remote location (which is 20 miles northwest of Haines, Southeast Alaska) by snowmobile. “I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,” said Stevens to The Associated Press. “I jumped up and I screamed when it happened.”
Thankfully for Stevens, it seems the bear’s bite was more of a nip, as upon tending to her injury it was first thought to have been the work of a mink or a squirrel. Her brother Erik decided to take a quick peep under the seat to see who was to blame. "I’m like, "Okay, I’m going to open the lid and look,"" he said to Alaskan news site KTOO. "I take the headlamp and I grab the lid of the toilet seat and I lift it up. Right at the level of the toilet seat, maybe an inch or two below, is a gigantic bear face looking right back up at me.”
The next morning the trio returned to the scene of the crime to find bear tracks all across the property but no bear in sight. It’s thought the bear gained access to the makeshift den via an opening at the bottom of the back door.
In defense of the bottom-biting-bear, you’d probably be pretty angry if you were woken one evening to find a human bum in your ceiling.