June 2015
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Be careful where you put your hands!

So, I was working at one of our FM clients in Albany when I decided I had a few moments of spare time, I could neaten up the remote control rack.  I opened the rack door and was staring intently at the remote control interface panel, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move.

Now, the top of the rack is a little bit dark and I was not sure what I was looking at.  At first I though somebody had stuffed a rag in the top of the rack.  But, I could not figure out why anyone would do such a thing.  Then I thought it was some cardboard.  I almost reached up and grabbed it, but something was amiss.  Then I saw the tough flick out and smell the air:

Transmitter room denizen

Transmitter room denizen

At this point, I think I may have said something like “Oh, shit!” and took several steps back. Those colors and pattern have two possibilities; Copperhead or Grey ratsnake. Since I could not really get a good look at its head, I could not tell which it was. I went and got a work light to see better with.

Grey rat snake

Grey rat snake

A copperhead is a pit viper, which has a triangular shaped head and a small indentation or pit under each eye.  This snake has neither, so it is fairly harmless.   Actually, the ratsnakes are beneficial because they eat the mice and other pests around the transmitter building.  There are several versions of these in the northeast, including a black ratsnake which happens to look just like a piece of 7/8 coax laying across the pathway to the door, until it moves that is…

This species can get to be about 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and the larger ones can draw blood when they bite.  Even though he looked to be on the small side (approximately 30 inches or 76 cm), I decided that discretion is the better part of valor, closed the door on the rack and did something else for a while.

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7 comments to Be careful where you put your hands!

  • Chris R

    Had this problem with a furnace when it went down the PVC vent pipe, gee why did the furnace crap out, surprise! What did you end up doing with him?

  • Snake, like spiders, are good, and I leave them alone. I’d rather have a snake and spiders, than Mice and Ants.

    These snakes are common pets, as they’re pretty timid around people.

  • Paul Thurst

    Chris: when I came back later, he had dropped down and disappeared into the wire trench in the floor. I suspect there is an opening to the outside where the trench meets the outside wall. I will look at sealing this up before winter.

  • Pretty sure I would have needed a fresh pair of underwear after stumbling across that at our TX site. Sheesh!

  • Dan Gurzynski

    I always liked to see a full bellied snake at a site, meant they were doing their job! Then again if they come at me or a visitor or get in the equipment that’s breaking house rules.

  • I remember back in the mid-late 1980’s when I was the caretaker of the old pre-WEBE 108 FM site that every Monday the on-site generator would exercise for about a half hour. I remember leaving right before the generator started and coming back a little while later to discover a group of snakes quite active on the landing in front of the building. Apparently the vibrations of the generator would encourage the snakes seeking refuse under the concrete area directly in front of the transmitter building to come to the surface. Luckily for me I never found one inside a piece of equipment.

  • Elliot

    I recall having a wasp leap off of the UHF diplexer( a very warm piece of RF combining plumbing for those not familiar) at Illinois mountain and sting the heck out of me without warning!

    This happened in the middle of winter which I found interesting at the time.
    No nest was ever evident as I thereafter armed the site with repellant.

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