|Side of body and top of head: Rat Snake killed by Air Conditioner|
This is distressing. I was working in the yard before it got dark. Evening sounds included birds, cars, chirping frogs, barking dogs and the ubiquitous drone of air conditioners. Suddenly there was a sharp clanging of rattling metal coming from my air conditioner. Did my AC unit have a tin can trapped inside with the fan blade? I was horrified to see that there was an ANIMAL inside the unit. A snake was being tossed like a pizza by the whirling fan. Each time the snake’s body slammed against the top of the housing, a flurry of scales and skin would blow out before he fell back, banging among the spinning blades.
Aaaaaaa!!! Panicking, I ran into the house to turn off the electricity, then I raced back outside. When I returned to the air conditioner, I saw that the poor, broken snake had somehow managed to climb to a metal lip above the blades. He was curled up, dead. Seeing his injuries, I cannot imagine how he achieved that final, excruciating climb. With a coat hanger, I extricated him - like pulling a sad thread through a needle.
Why had he gone in there? Was he looking for shade, moisture, food, or a rough place to shed skin? A green anole ( Anolis carolinensis) hangs out in that AC unit. Maybe the snake was after the anole. I called our air conditioning service company and asked how this tragedy could be prevented in the future. I was told that it could not be avoided. I hate that answer. The AC technician said that insects, bugs, lizards and shed snake skins are not unusual to find when they perform service on these units.
I have looked my copy of A Field Guide to Texas Snakes, by Alan Tennant and I think this may be a rat snake, Elaphe spp. Dear Readers, some of you are experts on Texas snakes. Please look at the grim photos and identify this unfortunate young ‘un. Post your identification in the comments for all to see. Thanks!
|Dorsal view of his markings: Rat Snake killed by the Air Conditioner|
|Ventral view of head and tail: Rat Snake killed by the Air Conditioner|
|If his back had not been broken in two places, he might be about 29" long. Poor Snake: killed by the Air Conditioner Fan.|