back to article South London: Rats! The rodents have killed the internet

Giant cable-nomming rodents have caused "extensive damage" in South London by chewing through fibre, leaving customers without broadband since last night. Sky and TalkTalk apologised this morning for the lost of service, which occurred yesterday evening around 9pm. A message to one customer from Sky at 9:55am said: "Engineers …

  1. DaLo

    Oh damn, we've only ever had issues with various rodents chewing through ethernet twisted pair cable. The fibre has always seemed to be immune. If they are getting a taste for fibre as well then it makes life a lot more difficult.

    I wonder what armour they had on these cables?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No Armour on fibre.

      It would make laying way, way more expensive.

      1. DaLo

        Hmm, I thought it was standard practice to run armoured for all outdoor runs. The price difference has never been much for the runs we do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It doesn't matter.

          Those front teeth will gnaw through wood, steel, plaster, plastic, brick, copper, lead in fact, there's almost nothing that a rodent cant gnaw. The word rodent comes from the Latin "rodere"; "to gnaw".

          It has nothing to do with food. If they don't gnaw to keep those teeth short, they overgrow making it impossible to feed and the rodent dies of starvation ironically.

          1. DaLo

            Re: It doesn't matter.

            It may be the case that they can, but I've never had a rodent eat through armoured fibre but I have lost loads of Copper Twisted Pair cabling due to various animals eating through them.

            At a difference of a few pennies per metre for armoured fibre it is used for most outdoor runs that we do.

            In fact I would be interested in some citations about rats being able to chew through steel, aluminium possibly but steel seems a stretch.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It doesn't matter.

              In fact I would be interested in some citations about rats being able to chew through steel, aluminium possibly but steel seems a stretch.

              It's well documented. The late Harry Harrison (RIP) actually wrote a whole series of books about it.

              :)

        2. Kernel

          "Hmm, I thought it was standard practice to run armoured for all outdoor runs. The price difference has never been much for the runs we do."

          Maybe for campus type work, where the runs are relatively short - but for telco use, where the distances can be 1000s of km, the price of armored cable would be prohibitive, so it's only used where necessary.

          You can actually buy fibre cable with rodent repellent sheathing, but that adds to the cost per metre as well, so it's typically only used where there is an identified rodent problem.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They used a cheese based polymer.

      1. Mage

        Cheese myth

        Both rats and mice much prefer bird seed to cheese or bacon.

        I discovered they are very fond of chunky peanut butter (not actually a nut), so I use it to "glue" some bird seed to bait holder on rat traps and on mouse traps just use peanut butter. Results in hours.

    3. Teiwaz

      The All-bran ad team are celebrating...

      The fibre has always seemed to be immune.

      - seems the rat population are in a health-conscious kick.

      1. Cynic_999
        Joke

        Re: The All-bran ad team are celebrating...

        "

        The fibre has always seemed to be immune.

        "

        Hungry rats do not touch optic fibre. But not-so-hungry rats will often eat it when they fancy a light snack ...

    4. Mage
      Alert

      Armour is pointless

      Rats can gnaw through steel doors to get meat in cold room.

      Only humans and birds eat chilli.

      Chilli powder and tabasco stopped the rodents eating my satellite cables to get in/out of house. Now I knead Chilli powder into plasticine and plug around cable entries with it.

      I'm sure some sort of chilli filled sleeve is cheaper than rat or mouse proof armour.

      1. choleric

        Re: Armour is pointless

        @Mage That sounds like the perfect reason to ensure all cable access points are housed in Indian (substitute spicy-food-cooking country of your choice) restaurants.

        I imagine this would simultaneously increase the number of engineers available to fix problems and the amount of time taken to fix them - "we had to remain on site to ensure the splice was properly cooked".

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Armour is pointless

        "Only humans and birds eat chilli."

        Not true. I've had rodents enjoy meals in my chilli patch.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Armour is pointless

        Chilli powder and tabasco stopped the rodents eating my satellite cables to get in/out of house. Now I knead Chilli powder into plasticine and plug around cable entries with it.

        That's only going to work until global warming makes the UK suitable for Mexican mice. The UK is already on high alert for sightings of the Asian hornet (get the app) so they can be stopped from establishing themselves, so I reckon mice aren't far behind. Worse, with a high chilli content the native foxes won't eat them.

        :)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Armour is pointless

        "Only humans and birds eat chilli."

        Try telling that to my dog.

    5. WolfFan Silver badge

      The local cableco had problems with squirrels (a.k.a. rats with bushy tails) eating cable and tried almost everything to get rid of them, without success. Until, that is, three things happened in close succession:

      1 a family of red-tailed hawks moved into a tree just outside the housing development; the hawks come back every year, now.

      2 at least one kingsnake moved in, too; it stays year-round.

      3 several of the local semi-feral cats developed a taste for squirrel; they stay year-round, too.

      The local bushy-tailed rat population has declined, and with it the damage to the cableco's infrastructure.

    6. Slx
    7. Montreal Sean

      Armour?

      Obviously they used only the best hard cheese.

  2. Steven Raith

    Pfft

    "Virgin Media broadband cabinet in Shropshire last year, resulting in, um, sluggish broadband services."

    The wording suggests you're a bit ashamed of that pun, but we know the truth.

    You love it.

    Steven R

  3. Lee D

    Wow... it's almost like they didn't have redundant fibre down there too, and that nobody was monitoring or noticed that their fibre strands were dropping off one-by-one....

    1. Kernel

      "Wow... it's almost like they didn't have redundant fibre down there too, and that nobody was monitoring or noticed that their fibre strands were dropping off one-by-one...."

      It was possibly the cable from the exchange to the roadside cabinets - I woulndn't expect them to be redundant, especially if it is an x-PON type system where there is only passive optical splitter/combiners in the cabinets.

      I can also tell you from personal experience that the time between one bitten fibre and 8 or 9 can be very short - like a matter of seconds - it all depends on exactly how that particular rat goes about the job. If it eats around the sheath first and then follows up with a chomp at the kevlar strength member in the centre of the cable then it's going to take out more than one at a time.

      The other aspect to consider is that if, as I mention above, there is only passive components at the far end of the cable, there is nothing capable of reporting a signal loss. As for loss of the back channel signal back at the exchange - is the cable cut, or have the customer's modems just shut down due to a power cut?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vermin Infested Companies infested with vermin.

  5. Dr Dan Holdsworth

    Flavoured cabling

    The answer here is surely to give the fibre a new taste and scent.

    Ferret urine would be a nice new smell for cable that rats would really dislike, and incorporating ultra-bitter chemicals into the cable insulation is surely not beyond the wit of cable manufacturers?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flavoured cabling

        "That's all very well until your rat gets toxoplasmosis."

        That infection also affects human behaviour - see learned article or popular press.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Flavoured cabling

          Muh Free Will!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flavoured cabling

      "give the fibre a new taste and scent"

      Brilliant as we can no longer use "up to" we'll class broadband connections by taste and scent.

      Thanks,

      Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

      Marketing Division.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Flavoured cabling

      Just add Bitrex most bitter substance on earth and recognised as such by the Guinness world records people. You can request a taste test kit but be warned it leaves a very very nasty taste in the mouth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flavoured cabling

        rodents don't taste bitrex or denatonium benzoate to give it its proper name , which is why its used in rodenticide to stop humans eating it. Its the same stuff they use to stop nail biting.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Flavoured cabling

          Well you learn something new every day. I'm with the chilli powder coating then.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flavoured cabling

      When they realise its ONLY a scent and there is no danger of being eaten, they will move back in.

  6. magickmark
    Childcatcher

    Favoritism

    So we have a Kat writing and article about rats!

    Do the rats get a right to reply? Ya know unbiased reporting .. yada yada yada and all that

    Enquiring minds need to know!

    Icon: No rat catcher icon so that was the closest!

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Favoritism

      Icon: No rat catcher icon so that was the closest!

      - Whew, I just thought for momo, that you were confused by the 'ankle-biter' epithet.

  7. Rich 11
    Joke

    Nice photos, but..

    "Is no rat. Is hamster!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Nice photos, but..

      That is speciesist, if that hamster wants to identify as a rat you should respect that.

    2. Stevie

      Re: Nice photos, but..

      Si, is Siberian hamster. That is why is having tail.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    There's an...

    Optical mouse joke in there somewhere...

    1. DNTP

      Re: There's an...

      An optical wireless mouse joke. You know, cutting the cable and all.

  9. Simon Harris
    Coat

    Cable...

    They need more roughage in their diet - that one's a bit light in fibre.

    Wouldn't have happened if they'd used CAT-6.

    Mine's the one with the Warfarin in the pocket ----------->

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just laughed at Cable-nomming

    that was enough for me.

  11. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Seems they dont' like BT fibre

    Perhaps Openreach uses substandard cables that the discerning Sarf London rat turns its nose up at. I am in Brixton Hill and I am, sadly, able to work from home. Come on you murine gnawers. I want to send a text to work saying, sorry, the intertubes are down due to rodent damage so I am stopping work.

    1. Commswonk
      Devil

      Re: Seems they dont' like BT fibre

      Perhaps Openreach uses substandard cables that the discerning Sarf London rat turns its nose up at.

      OTOH perhaps the rats read El Reg, a safe space for those who don't like BT fibre.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    That's what you get...

    That's what you get when your offering is so cheezy.

  13. Chris Jasper

    Happened a few years ago along Regent Street, I think some fool left a cap off a cable sleeve and the rats got in and had a feast, took out main internet for a few weeks as they wouldn't get in and repair it until the rats were dealt with first.

    Cant say I blame them really, but 3 weeks running email on a backup 1mb colt line was painful as hell.......

  14. nickx89

    You can't win

    It showed no matter how advanced you get; you can't win from the rats! :P

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Replacing broadband service with "gnawed-band"?

    (Sorry, all I could come up with)

  16. AceRimmer1980
    Coat

    We clearly need more cats on the Internet.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] outage hits Gnaw-wood..."

    A nice pun.

    Norwood is an area in South London - although not specifically mentioned in the list of affected areas.

  18. Slx

    Insulation choice!

    While cheese has excellent insulation and lubrication properties for blowing fibres down ducts, using it to coat fibres was probably never the best of an idea.

  19. PhilipN Silver badge

    Never knew eye-drops were so corrosive

    http://murine.co.uk/

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Never knew eye-drops were so corrosive

      Murine is basically salt water.

  20. gwangy
    Facepalm

    seems to be still affected today

    Was terrible last nite , sub 1mb speeds and still blooody slow this morn . Send in the Dogs, a savage death but if they interfere with my browsing what do they expect?

  21. returnofthemus

    Why I live North of the River

    Sarth London is full of Rats

    LOL!

    1. PeterM42
      Childcatcher

      Re: Why I live North of the River

      "Sarth London is full of Rats" - er, I thought Parliament was NORTH of the river.

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