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5 unsuspecting animals that can cause a short-circuit

The image of a bird causing a short-circuit is familiar for many, specially for electrical engineers and maintenance and operations managers from the high voltage industry.


But there are many other animals that can cause a high voltage grid to shut-down. Some look totally defenceless and some you wonder how they were even able to climb that high. The effects of animal bridging ranges from trips of the electrical system to power interruption for long periods of time.


Here are 5 of the best examples:


1- Squirrels

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Squirrels can easily jump, run and travel along overhead conductors and enter substations. It’s clear how they can cause power interruptions, but what’s really impressive is the amount of times they do. According to the site CyberSquirrel1, a site that catalogs incidents of squirrel-caused outages, there have been more than 1200 in the US only.



2- Iguanas

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These exotic dinosaur-like creatures are typical in Central America and the Caribbean, but they are also to be seen in some countries of South America and even in the US, where they have become almost a plague in places like South Florida. In 2008, for example, an iguana came in contact with high voltage equipment and left 20.000 people without power in north Broward county.


3- Monkeys

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In 2016 a rogue monkey caused a nation-wide blackout in Kenya. The monkey was roaming a substation, fell and caused the transformer to trip, resulting in the loss of 180 megawatts of power and triggering a blackout across Kenya.



4- Snakes

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Snakes are attracted to substations because there they can catch birds and eggs to eat. Because of their size and climbing ability, they are able to reach almost every part of the substation and, when not protected, they can cause power-outages. In 2017, for example, one left 4000 residents of South Carolina in the US without electrical power.



5- Racoons

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Their curious nature and excellent climbing abilities gain raccoons easy access to substations. Because of their large size, raccoons can easily bridge phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground distances on equipment with voltage ratings up to 25 kV. In 2019 nearly 40.000 people were left without power in Seattle, U.S., because of a racoon entering a local substation.


Outages, endangerment of life species, equipment damage and thousands of dollars in repair costs and production loss can be avoided when installing the proper animal outage protection products. Midsun’s E/Products are able to protect the equipment, power lines and animals by covering the bare metal work and creating an environment for wildlife to roam substations and overhead lines without damaging themselves or the equipment.



Picture: Joszef Salai / Hungary /EProducts installation
Installation of Midsun's E/Products

The investment in silicone covers is microscopic next to the amount a utility spends on a substation. Just bear in mind that a single electrical transformer can cost anywhere between 80 thousand and 5 million US$ and a high quality animal protection cover costs between 50 and 100 US$ and it’s life-span is expected to be the same as the one of the transformer.