Monday 26th October 2020 09:28
When Thames Water engineers tackled a blockage of wet wipes at a wastewater site near Guildford, they did not expect to see a snake staring back at them as well.
The reptile was found wrapped around an electrical cable connected to a pump at Artington Sewage Pumping Station. Closer examination revealed the reptile was a native grass snake that had probably slithered around the cable to keep warm as winter approaches.
Britain’s biggest snake, grass snakes live in wetland areas where they hunt frogs, fish, small mammals and birds. Like all reptiles, they hibernate between October and April. The snake was carefully removed and taken to a more suitable location where it can hibernate safely during the winter.
Adrian Hurford, Thames Water’s field operations manager, said: “A couple of technicians, brothers Jack and Tom Bettaney, were tasked with lifting a blocked pump at Artington sewage pumping station. After clearing the wet wipes, they also found a grass snake wrapped around the pump cable.
“We find all sorts of weird and wonderful things thanks to some of the bizarre objects that end up in the sewers, but a snake is not something I’ve seen before.
"As it’s a native species to Britain we don’t think it was an unwanted exotic pet that had been flushed down a toilet. I can only think it was trying to find a warm, safe place to hibernate for the winter - but a waste pumping station isn’t the perfect location the snake obviously thought it was.
“Looking after nature is a big part of the business, so we were pleased to find and rescue it before it came to any harm and relocate it to a much safer location.
"We'd also like to remind customers to only flush the 3Ps down the loo - pee, poo and toilet paper. Items like nappies, sanitary products and cotton buds, which can cause blockages and fatbergs that can lead to flooding, should only ever be placed in a bin."
Artington sewage pumping station is linked to Guildford sewage works which, subject to planning permission, is being re-located in support of Guildford Borough Council’s plan to build 1,500 new homes in a new development called Weyside Urban Village.
The new works will be built on the former Slyfield Industrial Estate landfill site and, once open in 2025, will be Thames Water’s first new sewage works since Reading opened 15 years ago.