While waiting for a speciality camera to arrive in a truck stuck in traffic on the Malahat due to a forest fire last week, city crews decided to pop open the lid of a manhole covering a section of pipe a snake had been living in for the past eight days.
After discovering the five-foot long snake on Aug. 17, and a few failed attempts to retrieve it, crews were hoping this time it would be close by. Much to their surprise, the snake was there the moment the lid was opened.
“We didn’t expect it to be right there. They were very happy,” said Mike Ippen, manager of utility operations for the City of Victoria and supervisor of the crews who found the snake.
Crews first discovered the snake when a video camera was placed down a section of pipe at Quadra Street and Balmoral Road to check for a possible soft spot or sinkhole. Animal control was called and a trap was set with mice to coax the snake out of the pipe. Heating pads were also placed inside the manhole, but the snake refused to budge, even shedding its skin a few days later.
Ippen was hoping crews wouldn’t have to resort to plan B — digging up the road. Others questioned whether the snake could just be left there and would move along once the weather got cold.
“There was that sense of where’s it going to go? It could go anywhere,” said Ippen, who’s surprised it didn’t take longer to remove the snake. “It would be surprising and scary for a lot of people to meet on their front lawn.”
Crews have seen some odd things appear in city pipes, such as dead rats and personal items that fall through grates, but Ippen said they’ve never come across a healthy living snake. Smaller snakes have appeared in some of the city’s storm drains, but they’ve never been quite this long.
The snake is now in an aquarium with animal control. Crews believe it’s someone’s pet, but aren’t sure how it got into the pipe.