Cold-blooded attacker cuts power to 16,000 customers in Texas, uses self as shock absorber

Officials with a Texas power company said about 16,000 customers lost power when a snake slithered into a substation and came into contact with equipment.

Matt Mitchell, a spokesman for Austin Energy, said the outage began about 1 p.m. Tuesday and affected about 16,000 customers at its peak.

“Wildlife interference can result in power outages,” Austin Energy tweeted. “Today a snake crawled into one of our substations and made contact with an electrified circuit.”

The company said power had been restored for all affected customers by 2 p.m.

Mitchell said wildlife is often to blame for outages, but squirrels are far more frequent perpetrators than snakes.

“This wasn’t about the grid, it wasn’t about infrastructure, this was just about a particular bit of wildlife that was in the wrong place, at the wrong time and caused a pretty big headache for a lot of folks,” Mitchell told KEYE-TV.

Mitchell said the company is now in the process of installing low-voltage electric snake fences around substations to keep slithering reptiles out.

A traffic signal in Prince William County, Va., experienced a brief outage earlier this month for a similar reason.

The Prince William County Police Department said officers determined a snake had made its den inside an electrical box at Prince William Parkway and Sudley Manor Drive. The snake tripped a circuit breaker, causing the signal to experience an outage.

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