Live Feeder Takes on New Meaning

Feeling that this particular location of his chain of stores was not as bright as the others, the owner of a local pet supply store asked me to help evaluate his lighting system. However, the lighting turned out not to be the highlight of the site visit. During the evaluation, I decided to check the voltage at his local branch-circuit panel. After removing the cover, I noticed that one of the feeder conductors entering the top of the panel appeared very different from the others. The majority were 4/0 THHN conductors, but this one appeared to be orange and had a rough texture — similar to old-style cloth-covered insulation. As I mentioned to the owner how peculiar it was to find an “antique” cable inside a fairly new building, we both saw the cable move. As I followed the “cable” path with my eyes, I was even more surprised by the fact that the end of the “cable” had two eyes and a forked tongue. After the owner questioned his employees, they confessed they had recently lost an orange corn snake. It apparently found an open knockout and made a home inside the electrical panel. How it kept from shorting across the panel bus bars I'll never know. Needless to say, I felt that removing a live snake from an energized electrical panel was beyond the abilities of an engineer. I recommended he de-energize the panel as soon as possible and entice the snake out somehow.
Jason Lenz, P.E.
Florence, Ala.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

A few years ago, we were working on a residential remodeling project. When it came time to clean up our mess, the homeowner told us he was leaving and asked us to make sure that we kept the doors shut during this time. When I asked why, he said that he had a blind cat and if it got outside it would most surely get lost. As we worked through our cleanup, I found myself carrying a bunch of tools up the stairs when I saw the door was open. When I got outside, I saw a cat sitting on the work trailer. So I promptly picked it up and put it inside the house. About three hours after we wrapped up the job and left the home, I got a call from the homeowner. He wanted to tell me that the cat I put inside his house was his neighbor's pet — not his. Two years later, we found ourselves back at the house for another project. The homeowner was still laughing about the case of mistaken identity.
Dustin Schell
Cumberland, Wis.

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