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Sunday, June 4, 2023

‘Large’ snake causes power outage at Virginia intersection during morning rush hour

An eastern rat snake was the culprit behind rush hour traffic in Virginia Monday morning, after the reptile cut power to traffic lights at a busy intersection, authorities said.

The traffic light outage was reported around 8:45 a.m. at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Sudley Manor Drive, the Prince William County Police Department said.

When a responding officer and a Virginia Department of Transportation technician opened the electrical box for the traffic signals, the pair noticed a large snake slithering among the wires, the Prince William Times reported.

Animal Control Officer B. White was called to assist Crash Investigator J. Lewton in removing the snake, which was relocated to a safe location.

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animal control officer holding eastern rat snake

Officials said the curious snake was an eastern rat snake, the most common snake found in Virginia. (Prince William County Police Department )

The eastern rat snake is the most common snake found in Virginia, according to the Virginia Herpetological Society. It is nonvenomous and considered harmless.

animal control officer holding eastern rat snake

Animal Control in Prince William County safely relocated the snake. (Prince William County Police Department )

Officials told the paper that the snake likely entered the box in search of food after they found evidence of a bird’s nest inside.

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Once the snake was out of the box, the technician discovered the reptile had wriggled across two breaker switches, which had turned off the power to the traffic lights. The switches were reset, restoring power to the lights.

officer looking inside electrical box

Officials said the snake was likely drawn to the box in search of food after they found evidence of a bird nest inside. (Prince William County Police Department )

Traffic had been snarled for about 45 minutes before the traffic lights resumed working, and officers had been conducting traffic, the paper reported.

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Authorities reminded motorists to treat traffic signals that have lost power like stop signs and to use extreme caution when proceeding.

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