A family of snakes was rescued from an industrial vacuum after it was “sucked up” by motorway workers near Bristol.
The snakes – initially thought to be adders or pythons – were vacuumed up by Vac UK staff on the M5 motorway, near Royal Portbury Docks, on Wednesday.
Sucked at high speed into the powerful vacuum excavator, no-one thought the unlucky serpents could have survived.
But Vac UK said when they lifted the lid “they were all on top slithering around” but “they weren’t happy”.
Night shift workers were digging trial holes for a new motorway roundabout on the M5, when a driver reported a “large snake” showing “its fangs and hissing loudly” had been sucked up a hose.
In a bid to save the unfortunate reptile, work was stopped for 12 hours and an environmental advisor was called in.
Joanne Ashford, from Vac UK, said they soon realised it had been a “nest of snakes” that had “gone up into the hopper”.
“We didn’t know what we were going to find in the hopper but when we opened the lid, they were all on the top, slithering around,” she said.
“But they were not happy, I think they were wondering what had happened.”
She said they “couldn’t believe” the snakes “had not been injured”.
“We thought there was no way they would have survived,” she said.
“But when we let them go, they just slithered away.”
Patrick Curran, who owns the company, said it had “never happened before”.
“Our huge trucks suck up the earth around cables because a digger can damage a cable,” he said.
“The suction speed is 375kw, so the snakes could have been sucked up at 100mph but I’m only guessing.”
He said it was “unbelievable they had survived”.
“It turned out they were grass snakes which feed almost exclusively on amphibians and not, thankfully, motorway workers.”