Big snake in sewer pipe eludes Victoria crews

Update: City crews and animal control experts removed the manhole cover on Quadra Street at Balmoral Road today to find the snake had not taken the bait. Video cameras fed through the storm drain showed the snake resting.

City crews plans to return next week to check on the reptile again. The city says the snake won’t be able to get out on its own. Read the full updated story.

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Original story

Victoria city crews and animal-control experts will open a manhole cover Friday hoping to find a very full and tired snake ready for a new home.

Dead mice and a tube-like container were placed beneath a Balmoral Road manhole cover on Thursday to lure a snake discovered in a city storm drain the previous day.

It’s not the Hollywood film Snakes on a Plane, but when a technician captured images of Victoria’s own snake in a drain, it attracted a lot of attention.

On Wednesday, city crews put a video camera inside a four-to-five-metre-long section of pipe at Quadra Street and Balmoral Road going toward Mason Street. They were looking for a possible soft spot or sinkhole.

But instead of photographing images of sludge or crumbling pipe, the camera captured the face of a snake. A big one.

The technician “was surprised,” to say the least, said Mike Ippen, manager of utility operations.

City crews first thought it was a boa constrictor or python, but late Thursday afternoon, Victoria Animal Control Services said it’s likely a corn snake. It is not poisonous and is believed to be an escaped pet.

All manner of attempts to retrieve the snake by baiting, luring and snaring it failed. “It’s at a very difficult spot to get to,” Ippen said. “From a system perspective, if it rains, it’s not going to block anything. It looks like it’s in an abandoned section of the pipe.

“It’s very difficult without us excavating the road to get to the animal,” Ippen said. “We really don’t want to tear up the road.”

Thursday’s latest attempt to set a feast for the snake is expected to put the reptile right where animal-control experts want it.

If the snake takes the dead-mice bait, it might remain in the upper half of the tube where it can be reached “and, hopefully, we can retrieve it manually,” Ippen said.

The abandoned section of pipe where the snake rests has been blocked with sandbags so the snake can’t escape.

Ippen said the snake is likely scared and hiding. Crews don’t want to hurt it, and want to retrieve it safely.

He suspects the snake escaped into a catch basin or drain near a house.

It’s unknown how long the reptile has been in the pipe, but Ippen suspects it likes where it is because that section of pipe is fairly dry and unused.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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