Battle of the species – while cleaning an air-conditioning unit

  • Creature feature: in certain countries it’s not unusual to find a snake in air conditioners, Robin Trimingham found a mummified lizard in hers

    Creature feature: in certain countries it’s not unusual to find a snake in air conditioners, Robin Trimingham found a mummified lizard in hers

  • Surprise find: Robin Trimingham had a scare when she went to clean the filter in her air conditioner last week

    Surprise find: Robin Trimingham had a scare when she went to clean the filter in her air conditioner last week


The inspiration for this morning’s tale begins with a heart-bounding shriek so loud they probably heard it in St David’s.

The drama began when I suddenly decided that today would be the day that I clean the washable filters in my air conditioning units. Thinking how clever I was for actually remembering to do this before the heat of summer arrived, I organised a scrub brush and pail of soapy water in the back garden and happily set about my task.

To my dismay the first set really were more caked with dust than I had anticipated, so I next decided to pull a stool right beneath the living room air conditioner (which is mounted high on the wall) so that I could get a good look inside the unit before removing the filters.

I am a morning person, but being just one coffee into the day I was not yet operating at full speed and in consequence, I suddenly found myself nose to nose with something that, for a moment, I really thought was the head of a black snake.

Let me tell you, even the dog was impressed with the volume of noise and speed with which I launched myself off the stool, making a three-point landing somewhere in the middle of the carpet. Unhurt, but gasping for air I tried to process what had just happened.

“OK,” I said to myself in a reassuring tone, “we are in Bermuda, so it can’t be a snake, take another look.”

Eventually, I did haul myself off the carpet and inch my way towards the open unit until the object in question finally came into focus.

Regrettably, this did not really improve matters. I finally realised that what I was looking at was in fact the head of a mummified full-size male lizard who had apparently got himself stuck inside the vent and met his demise several months ago — and that I was going to have to do something about this.

For a moment I actually considered standing in the middle of the road and offering money to the first person who agreed to come and deal with this for me, but as we are still practising social avoidance I made the grim decision to go it alone.

Swallowing hard I tried to visualise the sort of outfit suitable for this event and eventually settled on: a windbreaker, yellow dish-washing gloves, protective mask, sunglasses and a hat (reasoning that if I donned enough makeshift PPE to protect myself from this “icky” task, I would somehow feel brave enough to take it on).

Then, armed with a set of barbecue tongs and a paper bag I swallowed hard and headed back into the living room.

You will be happy to hear that the extraction was a success and the victim has been provided with a suitable resting spot in the flower bed. How he came to be in the air conditioner remains a mystery, but I am sure that he will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

In lieu of flowers, please consider sending a donation to the Bermuda SPCA, spca.bm/donate, who continue to work hard to care for and find homes for the island’s animals.

Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at www.olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or robin@olderhood.com

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Published Jun 2, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 7:50 am)

Battle of the species – while cleaning an air-conditioning unit

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