Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a little time to yourself — yes, even if that means sneaking away to the bathroom. You’re busy! If the only way you can carve out a little chunk of solitude is to linger a few extra minutes in there, well, power to you, and maybe consider bringing a magazine.
As long as you’re really just in there to hang out. If it’s taking you a while to actually use the facilities, that’s another story. According to a study recently published in the (kind of ickily named, in context) journal Soft Matter and highlighted by New Scientist, the average mammal — regardless of size — takes just 12 seconds to poop.
Led by Patricia Yang, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the study authors analyzed videos of 34 different species of mammals doing their business, running the gamut in size (the smallest was just under 9 pounds, the largest nearly 9,000) and diet (both herbivores and carnivores). Across the board, they found, the length of time it took to go remained more or less consistent. As New Scientist noted, so did a few other things:
The length of faecal pieces was 5 times as long as the diameter of the rectum in each of the animals … Yang also found that the normal, low-level pressure animals apply to push through a bowel movement is constant, and unrelated to a creature’s body mass. This means that, whether it’s a human or a mouse, the pressure used on normal excrement is the same.
In the wild, Yang explained, a quick, easy poop can be a means of survival. “The smell of body waste attracts predators, which is dangerous for animals,” she told New Scientist. “If they stay longer doing their thing, they’re exposing themselves and risking being discovered.” Assuming you’re using a regular old indoor toilet, it’s probably safe to say you’re not at the same risk. But spending too long on the toilet can lead to hemorrhoids, the swollen blood vessels around the anus that happen when you’re straining too hard to go. So take all the time you need if all you’re looking for is a little peace and quiet; if you’re spending more than a few minutes trying to get poop out of your body, though, you may be better off calling it, drinking some coffee (it really does work!), and trying again a little later.