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It's Friday! That time of the week when thoughts turn to the weekend, a well-earned rest, and a vermin-infested tale from The Register's On Call archives. Our story this week comes from a reader we will call "Andrew" and concerns the time he spent taking calls from customers worrying about beige boxes and billowing clouds of …

  1. A K Stiles Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    chewed wires

    The main problem I've ever had with chewed wires is where the l-users have managed to completely tie them around the castor of an office chair in such a way that they've managed to sever them in multiple places and require not just new mice or headsets but at least a temporary replacement for the office chair as one of the wheels would no longer spin (until it got a good talking to with a particular set of angled long-nose pliers, not company issue!)

    Icon, 'cos it felt like that's what I was dealing with most of the time!

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: chewed wires

      One of my school friends had ... dunno, some sort of rodent, I think a Chinchilla or whatever they were called. After the first attempt of the foul beast to electrocute itself, cables were protected by a cable channel (with rabbit wire wrapping).

      My piano teacher had a rat who liked to climb up onto the piano via the student's legs (but only if they were playing reasonably well, I could tell when I did something wrong by the disappearance of the rat...).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: chewed wires

        even rats have musical taste.

        Similar thing at home. My wife gave music lessons (piano, recorder or violin); if the music was done well our cat would sit around and listen and if not he would leave.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: chewed wires

          even rats have musical taste.

          Similar thing at home. My wife gave music lessons (piano, recorder or violin); if the music was done well our cat would sit around and listen and if not he would leave.

          The old saying is true: Everyone's a critic.

        2. Shadow Systems Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: chewed wires

          An old friend of mine used to play the violin. When he was "in the groove" & playing well, his dog would happily sit by listening in silence. If my friend started hitting too many wrong notes (accidental or on purpose), the dog would start howling. The worse my friend played, the louder & more anguished the dog would howl. One day my friend had to stop playing because his dog had finally had enough, ran from the house, & dove into the swimming pool. Theoreticly it was to clog the ears with water & stop the pain. I teased my friend that it was an attempted doggy suicide at the attrociousness of the playing. My friend wasn't very happy & made the "Everyone's a critic!" complaint.

          "If you think you can do better, then let's see you play!"

          Evidently he'd forgotten that I'd been First Chair concert clarinet in high school for four years. I assembled my clar', wetted my lips, & started playing "Hound Dog" by Elvis. The dog sat up, barked happily, & started howling *in harmony*. My friend never forgave me.

          I wonder if I should inquire if the dog has gone swimming lately? =-)P

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: the dog would start howling

            Hmmm. Schoenberg apparently was a dog-lover. How did the dog distinguish whether his master was playing well, or badly? Or maybe he spent long periods in the swimming pool.

        3. gfx

          Re: chewed wires

          While watching the voice or x-factor kind of show when they sing out of tune the ears of the cat go backwards.

          We did have a rat once at work, the mice leave cables intact but the rat was testing the fiber optic patch cables under the computer floor. Chewed everywhere. Replaced it with a rodent proof one

          a sturdier mantel with a couple of patch wires inside and made to length with a number of connectors.

          Not even that expensive compared the couple of cables it replaced.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: chewed wires

        Some friends of mine had Guinea pigs and some tropical fish. They explained how whenever they went away for the weekend a neighbour would stop by and check on their pets. Well one Sunday morning they had a call from the neighbour. Apparently there was a nasty smell in the house, the Guinea pigs were both dead and the tropical fish tank had no light or bubbles. They came straight home and discovered the power cable for the fish tank had separated from the wall it was attached to.

        The cable had then swung down to within reach of the cage. Thus the Guinea pigs had found a new toy to play with. They chewed through this cable and killed themselves. Sadly that had blown a fuse or tripped a breaker and the fish had died because they got far too cold.

        They described it as the Guinea pigs committing suicide and taking the tropical fish with them.

        1. juice Silver badge

          Re: chewed wires

          > Some friends of mine had Guinea pigs and some tropical fish. They explained how whenever they went away for the weekend a neighbour would stop by and check on their pets

          I own[*] a corn snake, who's incredibly placid and well behaved, and has given very little trouble over the last decade or so.

          Except for the time when I was working down south and got a call from my partner, as said snake was no longer in their vivarium. Cue a long and slightly panic'd drive home, during which I tried to rehearse what to say to the neighbours. Fortunately, she'd only gone a short distance before deciding to curl up under a wash basket!

          Then there was the second time a few years later. Which just happened to be the same weekend that I was looking after a friend's gerbil - the first and only[**] time I've ever looked after someone else's pet. Cue another stressful trip home, with visions dancing in my head of a happy looking snake with a gerbil-sized bulge in their belly...

          Thankfully that time, she'd just curled up in the shoe cupboard, but I doubt the gerbil was impressed!

          [*] passed over from a relative, when their partner started dropping strong hints about not wanting exotic pets in the house...

          [**] Certainly, that friend never asked me to look after their gerbil again ;)

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: Guinea pigs and some tropical fish

          I think this is a classic, and rather tragic, case of Worst Case Scenario.

          ===

          I also had a client with guinea pigs with a similar attraction to, thankfully, low-power cabling. When are they going to rename the little blighters Libra Solidus Porcellus?

          1. ocelot

            Re: Guinea pigs and some tropical fish

            We used to have guinea pigs that occasionally wandered the house. On one occasion I came across a chewed mains lead with a just-exposed live core behind a fridge.

            That guinea pig lived many more years, and chewed cables were never a problem again.

        3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: chewed wires

          They described it as the Guinea pigs committing suicide and taking the tropical fish with them.

          Avon: Auron may be different, Cally, but on Earth it is considered ill-mannered to kill your friends while committing suicide.

          1. kikipo

            Re: chewed wires

            murder-suicide

        4. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: chewed wires

          When I was a kid we had a large, white rabbit. It would chew through anything, often live 240v mains, which never did it any harm at all.

          All sorts of things ended up charred and smoking, but not the rabbit. To this day I wonder how it did it.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: chewed wires

            "To this day I wonder how it did it."

            To the bunny we're all maroons. Ultra maroons, in some cases.

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: It would chew through anything, often live 240v mains, which never did it any harm at all.

            It was a phase it was going through.

      3. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: chewed wires

        My cousin used to keep Chinchillas, they seemed to be attracted to any type of network cable even to the extent of climbing a vertical wall to get to them.

        The damn things left the easily replaced mouse & keyboard cables alone, just the network cable which went upstairs......

        And somehow they knew to not even nibble on mains cables....

        1. smudge Silver badge

          Re: chewed wires

          And somehow they knew to not even nibble on mains cables....

          Sensitive to magnetic field or to AC? There's a PhD for someone there...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: chewed wires

            5G?!

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: chewed wires

            Sensitive to magnetic field or to AC?

            That's a well known problem with undersea cables and sharks(*), but I don't think sharks and rodents are that closely related, apart from the biting tendencies.

            (*) This is a potential problem for any supervillain employing sharks with cranially mounted lasers. If deployed in groups they're more likely to attack each other's power supplies than the victim.

            1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

              Re: chewed wires (sharks with frikkin lasers)

              "more likely to attack each other's power supplies than the victim"

              Such a shame that you weren't a technical consultant on the Austin Powers films. That would've been a great "how's he going to get out of this" solution...

        2. MCPicoli

          Re: chewed wires

          My parent's parrot had a nasty habit of chewing cables. Ethernet, speakers, mouse and keyboard, telephone, none was spared. Except for power cords. Never chewed on one, not even once. She is now 36 years old and still going strong.

          1. whitepines Silver badge

            Re: chewed wires

            Many birds can sense the Earth magnetic field. Being close to a power cable with its rapidly changing magnetic field, to say nothing about chewing on one, may be something they instinctively don't like?

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: chewed wires

      The chair caster thing happened to me once with a mouse cable and it was such a pain untangling it that I seriously considered throwing both of them away.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: chewed wires

        The caster wheels for chairs are easy (and relatively cheap) to replace.

        I figured this several months ago whilst battling HR for a chair that could be raised an extra inch to give me a comfortable working position. Unfortunately the monolithic HR department I was dealing with couldn't understand that someone wanted something that had never been asked for before, and which didn't fit their policies.

        I had reached the point of reading the UK Gov document on seating at w**k (https://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg57.pdf) and listing all of the places where their policy fell short, when I discovered that larger than normal casters were easily available. I decided that rather than having a months long battle with a bunch of useless box-tickers (all while suffering aches and pains from a chair that wasn't high enough) that I'd buy a set of oversize caster and fit them to my chair during the quiet hours.

        Looking back now I wonder why I let them off so easily. I think that when I'm back w**king in the orifice I'll bring it up again and see what I can do about forcing them to change their policies.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: chewed wires

          ...for values of "cheap" below $50.

          I just purchased 2 sets of 3.5" casters for my newly carpeted home office. Worth the money, as the stock 2" ones were useless of carpet.

        2. paulf Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: chewed wires

          Sorry straying a bit off topic but this reminded me of something.

          At a previous employer an unexpected fire alarm evacuation revealed a problem with the security barriers that controlled access to the building. Due to a misconfiguration on the fire alarm panel the barriers didn't open automatically, as they're supposed to, and when the fire alarm activated by mistake the evacuating masses had to queue up and swipe their badges to get out. This highlighted a glaring omission - the barriers didn't have an green emergency release button, whereas all the access controlled doors did (on the secure side of the door, for emergency egress only)

          Cue looking up the regs The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which explains that (14.2.f) "emergency doors must not be so locked or fastened that they cannot be easily and immediately opened by any person who may require to use them in an emergency". IMO (IANAL) the barriers didn't comply with this aspect.

          Long story short - the Facilities Manager point blank refused to install the required emergency release as there'd been a break in a few months earlier and an emergency release would have made a future break in easier (it wouldn't - he just vaulted the barriers when the foyer was unattended, then went through a door with a broken access control lock!).

          The problem is if you give a clip board to a dumbass jobs worth box ticker they'll never admit they're wrong, even when presented with the facts, evidence, and legislation showing they are. You didn't let HR off lightly, you let yourself off lightly - pursuing it would have just caused yourself a load of grief with no useful outcome. Unfortunately said box tickers know this.

        3. SuperGeek

          Re: chewed wires

          "I figured this several months ago whilst battling HR for a chair that could be raised an extra inch to give me a comfortable working position. Unfortunately the monolithic HR department I was dealing with couldn't understand that someone wanted something that had never been asked for before, and which didn't fit their policies."

          You have the legal right to walk out of work if the environment is unsafe. Hurting your back or neck is an unsafe workplace. I walked out of one job because the computer repair workshop was too cold and the boss didn't see why he should get heaters. Once I refused to work and pointed out he was breaching Health & Safety, and mentioned the word "tribunal" the attitude soon changed....

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: chewed wires

            UK temperature "must be" reasonable + comfortable but this has no legal force according to https://www.gov.uk/workplace-temperatures

            However, if the computer repair workshop is too cold, you could plug in some PSUs or monitors.

            My CRT television generates enough heat that I can't leave it on on warm days. Also has a possibly beyond economic repair fault (I'm not trying it myself) since a couple of weeks, the picture ends on a bright band close to the bottom, doesn't look very happy at the top either. Oh well.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: chewed wires

              Re: the TV fault - may just be "zoomed in" too far, and the image that it's trying to project beyond the bottom of the screen is being reflected back up instead. Try fiddling with the positioning controls.

      2. Psmo Silver badge

        Re: chewed wires

        Just schedule a large delivery of "fuck it" from orbit.

        It's the only way to be sure.

      3. Anne Hunny Mouse

        Re: chewed wires

        In one job, we had fibre to PCs

        Didn't matter how carefully we ran the fibre and other cables, some users had an amazing ability to get the fibre wrapped around the chair cadtors and chewed up.

        They would then be surprised that they lost connection on that machine...

    3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: chewed wires

      Our terrier had a tendency to do that as a pup. BUT, he could always detect a live wire... and grew up to enjoy a destructive old age.

    4. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
      IT Angle

      Re: chewed wires

      Our TV signal slowly deteriorated over a period of about a week. I suspected a bad joint in the aerial cable, so I used the old cable to pull a new one through. On examination of the old cable, there was a three inch length where it had run through the eaves that was chewed part way through, outer PVC, coaxial copper braid, inner PTFE insulation, and the central copper multi strand core, all half gone. That night, we were lying in bed when we heard a scuffling sound from above the ceiling, so I grabbed a torch, opened the window, and shone the torch up under the eaves. The back half and tail of an enormous rat were protruding from under the roof structure, he was evidently enjoying his first nibble at the new cable. I fetched a long handled duster from the next room, and gave him a good poke up the behind, which caused him to back out into the gutter and disappear down the downspout. Next morning I went up the ladder and installed a mesh baloon grating at the top of the downspout, to prevent him climbing back up again. I pulled the new cable back out again and found that he had destroyed the outer and part of the coax braid over about an inch length, but as the inner PTFE and copper core were unaffected, I left it at that.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: chewed wires

        So, as soon as you pulled the old cable and put fresh "food" in its place, he was back like a rat up a drainpipe?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: chewed wires

          "{...] back like a rat up a drainpipe?"

          There is a school fete game where a "rat" is dropped down a short length of drainpipe - and you try to hit it with a mallet as it shoots out of the bottom. It had never occurred to me that this is based on real rats' behaviour.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: chewed wires

            It sounds like real rats have learned that real people catch you going down a drainpipe, so they go up. And are good at it, apparently.

  2. Stumpy

    In my early days working in IT operations for a regional brewer, I got called out to the Transport department one evening whilst on call.

    The big DEC line printer they used for printing all the loading sheets for the dray wagons had stopped working, and they needed it looking at, so off I trotted, opened the hood up on the printer and there, lying across the tops of the massive PSU capacitors was a lightly fried (and very dead) rat!

    Seems this one had found a nice looking, warm, dark and cosy space to try building a nest, then regretted it some few seconds later :)

    1. Mast1

      Not quite IT, but involves electrons. Way back in the early 70's in Singapore, my parents had an electric toaster go duff. Opened it up to find a dead lizard ("chit chat"). Nearly all rooms had security grilles and louvred shutters. Lizards had free run.

      1. Outski

        Wall-lizards, we called them in Malaysia :o)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Wall-lizards"

          Presumably the type that evolution has equipped with the unlikely mechanism of moving both legs on the same side - in the same direction - at the same time. How do they balance when both feet are off the ground?.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Well, we move all the left legs together, then all the right legs, maybe the lizards copy us.

            I am assuming that you are not e.g. a crab and I apologise if you are.

      2. Vasten_the_Barelegged
        Mushroom

        > an electric toaster go duff. Opened it up to find a dead lizard

        Gecko for browsing now installs on toasters, maybe?

  3. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Alternatives are good.

    "Furry animals were henceforth banned from the home office"

    No need to get quite that draconian. Bitter Apple spray on the cables stops most inquisitive chewing. Mixing in some hot pepper spray takes care of the rest if they don't get the message.

    Bitter Apple can be had at most feed stores, or ask your Vet. Make your own hot pepper spray ... simply throw a couple of the hottest peppers you can find into a blender with just enough white vinegar to allow it to liquefy. Strain through old nylons to remove the bits that might clog the sprayer. Mix about 75% apple, 25% pepper. Unplug, and then spray on wires and allow to dry before plugging back in.

    Use the rest of the pepper mix as hot sauce ... might want to add a little salt for flavo(u)r, and a little sugar (honey, maple, Golden Syrup, carrot, whatever ... anything sweet) will mellow it out. Try it on eggs. If the above recipe is beyond your cooking skills, a bottle of Dave's Insanity or the like will do the trick.

    Need I say do NOT play with your contacts[0] if you've managed to get the pepper mix on your fingers?

    [0] Or anything else for that matter, if you get my drift ...

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      Thanks. Now I feel rather peckish - but we are out of hot peppers! I'll give that a shot when I have restocked the pantry.

      It might also be a nice home made present... (we have an agreement with some friends and family that anything homemade food is ok but not mandatory for birthdays / christmas - the main thing is that you actually turn up in person, which is the biggest present, plus we all have too much stuff already).

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        Dave's Insanity is seriously, mouth blowingly hot. And I talk as someone with a liking for hot sauces.

    2. My-Handle

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      I don't think treating anything that a human might handle semi-regularly with chilli oil is a great idea. One cable comes loose, you plug it back in, unthinkingly rub some dust out of your eye... and suddenly you have a real problem.

      I did something similar in my uni days. Rubbed the insides of a jalapeno pepper on the door handle of a particularly obnoxious housemate (himself a bit of a prankster). The results weren't quite as funny as I thought they'd be, even with something as mild as a jalapeno.

      On another note, both dogs and cats are permitted in my office and no cables get chewed. Allowing rodents free rein is probably asking for it though.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        You would forget you treated a cable or cables with hot sauce?

        Wow. On the bright side, you'd only forget once ...

    3. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      One of our dogs had a liking for electricity cables in addition to all his other chew toys etc. He chewed right through the charger cable to the wife's laptop, luckily without shorting/trashing the transformer, I just had to join the cores back up again. Similarly one day while eating lunch there was a sudden CRACK with a little blue flash followed by a dog yelp - he'd chewed through a live mains cable. We tried some bitter apple spray on other cables, he found it a tasty relish to add to his diet and still managed to chew through a live lamp cable. He's now grown out of the habit. Wish we'd named him Sparky. I'll bear in mind the hot pepper spray if he goes back to his old ways.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        Re:-"tasty relish" My mate had a dog who would chew the architrave around the door when he was locked in. To stop this, English mustard was applied to the affected area. Sadly, the mutt liked mustard on his wood...

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          "English mustard was applied to the affected area. Sadly, the mutt liked mustard on his wood..."

          Did they try Dijon?

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Alternatives are good.

            Did they try Dijon?

            Also my first thought. Alternatively, they could try wasabi.

        2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          For architraves, you can't beat a pair of Cockatoos. My PhD supervisor had a pair who had free rein - those lads could and did do serious damage.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Alternatives are good.

            Cockatoos? Maybe as bookends, if they were stuffed, but lintels, and still living? Got a pic of that? You hear something new every day ...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "the mutt liked mustard on his wood"

          I knew a girl like that once

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          "Sadly, the mutt liked mustard on his wood..."

          See icon ------------>

        5. jake Silver badge

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          Dogs pretty much ignore mustard, horseradish and wasabi. That's why I use chilis. Mammals in general shy away from capsaicin ... except us stupid humans, of course.

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        When I first read "He's now grown out of the habit", I thought you mean "permanently" in some way. Glad to hear he's alive and kicking, if not chewing through cables!

      3. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        Our dog learnt a vital lesson as a young puppy that electrical cables are not to be touched. It was during the night and my wife and I were suddenly woken up by a sudden thump and a howl of terror from our puppy. Seemed she found the cable for my wife's hair dryer hanging down (plug was obviously switched off) and decided to tug on the cable with her teeth - only to suddenly be hit by the hair dryer as it fell off the chest of drawers.

        Worked a treat as it happens as she has given mains leads a wide berth ever since!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        Doubt it... we used to have a dog that chased and ate wasps. Must have been stung as he used to spit them out.... and ate them again!

    4. Admiral Grace Hopper
      Flame

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      "Or anything else for that matter"

      I'm now flashing back to the evening with the boyfriend who picked the chillis off his pizza then neglected to wash his hands before demonstrating that he knew the location of my clitoris.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        My eyes are watering just thinking about it - and I'm a bloke.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          A former co-worker would bring for lunch various things he grew in his garden - tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. One day he had a jalapeno. He finished his lunch, used the urinal in the bathroom, and was washing his hands when he suddenly realized his mistake... ow?

          1. Jwdb
            Flame

            Re: Alternatives are good.

            I used to frequent a crab restaurant in Maryland, USA - they're steamed whole with an extremely generous layer of spice blend over top, and eaten by hand with aid of a hammer. The men's bathroom had a sign on the door suggesting people wash their hands on entry as well as exit.

            The story goes that my father once walked in on a bloke cooling himself in the wash basin, apparently having ignored the sign.

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Alternatives are good.

              "The men's bathroom had a sign on the door suggesting people wash their hands on entry as well as exit."

              That used to be an instruction at some chemical plants as well, in the days when they handled the products more casually than now.

              --> Because it cools .... whatever it's applied to - here's one for the weekend.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Alternatives are good.

                Reminds me of an old joke - how do you tell a physicist from a chemist in the bathroom?

                The physicist washes his hands AFTER using the toilet.

                1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: Alternatives are good.

                  How do you tell a blue collar worker from a white collar worker? The white collar worker washes his hands after going to the toilet, the blue collar worker does so before.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Alternatives are good.

            "[...] and was washing his hands when he suddenly realized his mistake... ow?

            In the 1970s aerosol spray deodorant was popular with lads. Under the arms - pffft. Pull waistband - pffft - AAAARRGGH!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Alternatives are good.

              "Pull waistband - pffft - AAAARRGGH!"

              Stupidity SHOULD hurt!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Alternatives are good.

                "Stupidity SHOULD hurt!"

                Stupidity would be doing it a second time.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Alternatives are good.

                  "Stupidity would be doing it a second time."

                  Tell me that after stepping in front of a moving train for the first time.

                2. Glenturret Single Malt

                  Re: Alternatives are good.

                  On the theme of self-inflicted pain: pouring liquid nitrogen from thermos flasks, you might occasionally splash some on bare hands but without damage as it evaporates so quickly. However, if some of the liquid gets trapped even briefly under a ring on your finger or a wristwatch or is absorbed into the cuff of a shirt or jumper that you are wearing, excruciating pain may result.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Alternatives are good.

                    More Words Of Wisdom from my Grandfather: Cast iron cookware is ALWAYS hot!

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Alternatives are good.

                    A guy I know had the city-slicker habit of tucking his jeans into his cowboy boots. He managed to spill about three quarters of a cup (~240ml) of liquid nitrogen right into the top of his left boot. He neglected to tell us of his mistake for over half an hour. The eventual skin grafts ran from the inside of his shin, wrapping around the top of his foot and down to the middle third of his sole. The doctor commented that it was the first time he had dealt with second and third degree frostbite of the foot that didn't involve the toes ...

                    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

                      Re: He managed to spill ... liquid nitrogen right into the top of his left boot

                      Brings a whole new meaning to the term bootstrap.

          3. jake Silver badge

            Re: Alternatives are good.

            We grow a lot of chili cultivars here, ranging from mild to extremely hot. One thing we've discovered over the years is to pick them before watering. When they are freshly watered, they can become so turgid that cutting into them can cause squirting. Take it from me, you really know you're alive after you've maced yourself cutting into a Carolina Reaper while prepping lunch ...

      2. smudge Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        I'm now flashing back to the evening with the boyfriend who picked the chillis off his pizza then neglected to wash his hands before demonstrating that he knew the location of my clitoris.

        L.H.O.O.Q. (Duchamp)

        :)

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        He picked the chilis off the pizza? Why on Earth was he still there long enough to demonstrate his navigation skills? You never struck me as being particularly forgiving in the face of such obvious uncivilized behavio(u)r ...

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          I was young and still drinking. We were at the right end of a particularly good bottle of wine at the time and I was in a forgiving mood, for the short term anyway. The chillis on the shared pizza were for me, so his picking them off was his way of sharing, I guess.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      To try to deter deer, we once made our own pepper spray. 3 habaneros, finely diced, into an old perfume bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol. Let sit a couple days for the spiciness (capsaicin) to really dissolve well. You don't even have to pull the pieces out of the bottle afterwards. I sprayed just a bit on the railing of our deck, to see if I could smell it, and accidentally caught a whiff of the pepper-laden IPA vapor. Ugh. Good stuff.

      1. Outski

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        Add some male urine to that if you want to deter cats (female urine doesn't have the desired effect, as my mum & stepdad found out)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          The urine of human males doesn't work with common or garden house cats, not even the ferals. They've been around people for far too long.

          It does, however, work for mountain lions, bobcats & the like. Bears, too ... at least here in North America.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        A huff of IPA* alone can do a number on you. I once decided to use an ultrasonic cleaner on some electronics assembly equipment. I used IPA for the bath (plain water might have done fine, but I figured that 99% IPA would cut solder paste residue much better). After the cleaner ran for about 20 minutes, I made the mistake of looking directly down into the bath. I could smell the IPA odor, but it didn't seem unusually strong. Unfortunately, when I inhaled, the breath made it just past my trachea before my lungs decided "nope" and refused to allow any more air intake. My lungs also decided that a couple of violent coughs were in order. The coughs, combined with the newly imposed moratorium on inhaling any air beyond my windpipe, made for a couple of unpleasant minutes.

        Whole deal was rather surprising, since my face was well above the container.

        * (Isopropol Alcohol, not India Pale Ale, need to be specific on a Friday)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Alternatives are good.

          "Isopropol Alcohol,"

          In the 1960s there was always a very large brown bottle (4 litres?) sitting in the computer room for the regular cleaning of tape deck heads. Not to be confused with the similar bottle of acetone to produce clear marker areas on the magnetic tape. Failure to discriminate caused the tape deck head to disintegrate.

          In the days when filling stations kept shop hours - it wasn't unknown for an engineer find himself short of petrol in the night. He then topped up the tank with a bottle of the alcohol to get home.

          In 1970 we moved to a new custom computer room on a new campus. The insurers had tightened up their regulations. The alcohol was now a bottle of about 250ml - and kept snuggled in the centre of a very large fire-proofed box in the engineers' room. Painted bright red with warning signs - and locked.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        No need for the IPA, save money and use white vinegar ... Capsaicin isn't soluble in water, but if you give it a good shake before using it all the good bits will stay in suspension long enough to spray onto whatever it needs spraying on. May I recommend eggs?

        As a side note, do not ever use this as a defensive weapon in Blighty! That would be illegal.

        Is Tabasco brand pepper sauce a critter repellent, a force multiplier, a threat deterrent or a delightful condiment? How about Dave's Insanity?

    6. Kevin Fairhurst

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      OOOH! U get two anecdotes for the price of one!

      Not IT related; I used to work at a food processing place when in college, and one of the jobs involved chopping chillies. Some people refused to wear the gloves because it made handling the chillies harder. However, this became mandatory when someone on the weekday shift forgot to wash his hands before going to the bathroom and almost broke the sinks from trying to get water on the affected area!

      Slightly IT related; My first proper IT job after uni involved spending 5 weeks on an intensive training course in Buffalo, NY, in the winter. I think the only intensive thing was the drinking. One of the bars we frequented did buffalo wings (unsurprisingly) and they went down a treat. Got talking with the owner and it turned out he used Dave's Insanity Sauce in the making. I'd never heard of such a thing, and he brought out the bottle to show me. There and then a new drink was invented, the Hot Southern Gal. A shot of Southern Comfort with a drop of insanity sauce mixed in. If you think being ill on Southern Comfort is bad enough...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives are good.

        There is a reason that crap is almost universally known as Sudden Discomfort ...

    7. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: Alternatives are good.

      My current cat has a tendency to chew wires, because he seems to think they're string. He bit through a Logitech G500 cord, which I had to replace at great expense while the replacment cable was shipped on a slow boat from China. I coated the cables with laundry soap which has henceforth put him off chewing my computer wires.

  4. John Hawkins

    Cats and cables

    One of my old cats liked to chew on network cables as well as the occasional USB charging cable. Her teeth were OK as she happily ate kibbles, so I guess she just liked the taste of them. Never any marks on power cables though so maybe she'd learnt to leave them alone with her previous owner.

    Mentioned this to the chap behind the counter when I was stocking up on unchewed cables one day and he said 'yeah, you're not the first customer to say that'.

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Cats and cables

      I've had keyboard and mouse (trackball actually - a Microsoft Trackball Explorer iirc*) cables chewed by inquisitive felines before hand. Normally not 'that' deep - but in one or two instances deep enough that the cable had to be 'folded and pinched' to restore connectivity.

      * Fabulous bit of kit, Microsofts peripheral hardware was always far far better produced than it's software.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Cats and cables

        I moved to a cordless mouse for that reason. Too much 'help' in the home office.

  5. petethebloke

    I saw a mouse

    I used to look after the computers at an Irish Travellers' community centre. I was used to crawling under desks in unsavoury places, but this took the unsavouriness to a new level and the presence of mouse-droppings made me pretty careful to avoid hand-face contact (even in pre-covid days).

    One day I heard a lot of rustling from inside the swing-lid bin (well, it would have been swing-lid, if it had had a lid) and I pointed out that there might be a mouse in there. The staff called in Paul, who was a very camp, gay man who couldn't come out due to the fact that the Irish Travelling fraternity would probably have killed him (let's hope thngs are better these days, but I fear they might not be). Paul brought a broom and used the top of the handle to crush the captive mouse - I had envisaged a quick release outside the building, I'm kind like that. He then sat in the seat I had just vacated (remember all that seat-hopping in a room full of PCs?) and wriggled himself down while saying, "Mmmmm, you've a hot arse".

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: I saw a mouse

      Reportedly, a mouse released anywhere near the premises it was removed from will head straight back in. Co-existence is achieved only by killing them, modern easy-open snap traps checked daily being recommended, baited with peanut butter, chocolate spread, or manufacturer's patent which may be just one of those but don't taste it. The traps are not easy-open if you're a mouse and/or dead. Poison means that you now have dead poisoned mice hidden all over the place. And the poison, the dead mice, or traps may be bad for other pets.

      I've occasionally had mice get away from the traps, and one survivor bleeding from his injuries. Lively though. I did take him for a walk in the dark around the corner, in the trap, let him go, and I think that was it for a while. I wasn't going to a vet. "Humane" killing needs consideration: dropping a paving slab on the poor chap is one suggestion. The survivor might have had a worse night (or not) if I'd had another idea; since he was captive in one trap, I could drop him onto another trap, snap.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meester Fawlty!

    Iss no a rat, iss a chhamster!

    1. OssianScotland Silver badge

      Re: Meester Fawlty!

      Are you allowed to post Fawlty Towers quotes any more without a trigger warning?

      (And DON'T mention the war in any replies)

      1. DuncanL

        Re: Meester Fawlty!

        I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it...

      2. james_smith Silver badge

        Re: Meester Fawlty!

        As someone with a German grandparent I f*cking hate Fawlty Towers. As a kid in an English school (in an army town no less) I got sick and tired of the oh so not funny references to the war.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Meester Fawlty!

          So they didn't get away with it?

  7. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Pirate

    Laptop power cable chewed by parrot.

    Rat skeleton behind bookcase when installing phone cabling; customer response "ah, that's what the smell was last summer"

    Cat knocking book off shelf onto laptop; smashed screen & ruined keyboard. This was when basic laptops started to drop below £1000, so quite a pricey cat toy.

    Spiders clogging up the inside of computers; had to remember to wipe away the cobwebs before installing expansion cards.

    Puppy chewing network cable under desk.

    Usual rats chewing Cat5 in the most inaccessible places - made more inaccessible by the amount of droppings left behind.

    And most recently... triggering mouse traps while installing cabling near electrical switchgear. Certainly made me jump!

    I may have been in this game too long.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Almost mouse free

    I have a cat in my office for most of the day, so the only furry rodents I get are the dead ones she brings in as a present for me and leaves on the floor. I think she reckons I need feeding up.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Almost mouse free

      Mine don't perceive rodents as food, so they don't generally bring me dead ones.

      They bring me ones that are still alive enough to play with.

      I'm fairly sure I have two mice living behind one of my bookcases even now :(

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Almost mouse free

        Been there .... had that! Ours was living in the inaccessible bits of the kitchen cabinets. It finally got fried when it decided to explorer the washing machine.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Almost mouse free

          It finally got fried when it decided to explorer the washing machine.

          I had one get in between the outer casing of a gas stove and the oven. As I didn't fancy inaccessible roast mouse I spent the afternoon dismantling the cooker while keeping the cat away.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Almost mouse free

        When I was very young we had both a cat and a dog. One of them brought a young, live rabbit into the house. While everyone was chasing round trying to catch it the other arrived with another.

        1. Robert Sneddon

          Boy the Wonder Dog

          Boy was a Labrador cross, not as smart as his mongrel Mum (his Dad was a show Samoyed, bred for looks not brains). Being a retriever breed, sort of, Boy liked to bring us things. Watching him try to "retrieve" a hedgehog was something else. It was the fact he kept trying, time and time again...

          1. james_smith Silver badge

            Re: Boy the Wonder Dog

            Terriers are awful hedgehog worriers, no matter how many times they end up with bloodied mouths and covered in fleas. Never quite worked out whether my dog's prime directive was chewing, humping or peeing on things.

        2. Remy Redert

          Re: Almost mouse free

          First time we went on holiday and brought the cats, one of them came running in with a young rabbit. She was in a particular hurry because mom wasn't happy about the cat abducting her babies. Fortunately none of those involved were seriously injured and we managed to reunite the rabbits.

          The same cat was harassed by a big fat pigeon a few years later. A couple of days after she came strutting into the bungalow with a pigeon almost as big as she was. The pigeon was very much dead already at that point.

      3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Almost mouse free

        My pair have a tendency to munch their heads off first. Or in the case of squirrels, the head and body as far as the tail.

      4. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
        Devil

        Re: Almost mouse free

        When my family moved into a house in London, the previous occupants had kept birds in a large aviary at the bottom of the garden. Our cat, Mickey (long story) was extremely interested in the aviary, running back and forth across the wire mesh front, so we opened the door and let him in. We didn't see him for three days, but every morning there was a line of dead mice on the concrete slabs outside the back door, all lying with their heads pointing towards the door. Eleven on the first morning, seven the second morning, and three the third. Mickey later strolled into the house with a smug look on his face, we don't know how many of the mice didn't make it to the line-ups but were neatly stored away inside his belly.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Almost mouse free

          Mickey Mouser

      5. irrelevant

        Re: Almost mouse free

        We've had that! Live mouse brought in by the cat and released. We've still not found it, and I've put out (humane) traps and everything... No nibbling on cables, thankfully, but to make up for it, one of the cats loves licking wires, USB charging cables mainly. Another likes plastic carrier bags. I think we're living in a madhouse sometimes.

        Finally. one of the older cats, whom is not normally known for catching anything, decided one day to bring home a dead goldfish! After we took it off her, she vanished outside and came back a few minutes later with another one, still slightly alive... By the time of the fourth, she'd obviously got it down to a fine art, as it was alive enough to last several months in the old tank hurriedly brought down from the top of the kitchen cupboards!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Almost mouse free

          ...and the neighbour with the pond in the back garden is still wondering where fuck all his expensive young koi went!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Almost mouse free

            "...and the neighbour with the pond in the back garden is still wondering where fuck all his expensive young koi went!!"

            A colleague found that his freshly stocked garden pond was a magnet for a heron.

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: Almost mouse free

              "A colleague found that his freshly stocked garden pond was a magnet for a heron."

              I've been told that the solution is to install a fake, plastic heron by your pond. Supposed to keep passing herons at bay.

      6. Bowlers

        Re: Almost mouse free

        One of our cats used to bring in live mice to play with but he would eventually eat them, except for what I took to be the stomach and some intestine. When we found these the comment was " he's been playing his mouse organ again".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Almost mouse free

          Never eat the green wobbly bit!!

      7. Old Used Programmer

        Re: Almost mouse free

        A friend of ours once had a cat that would--successfully--hunt rattlesnakes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Almost mouse free

          "[...] a cat that would--successfully--hunt rattlesnakes."

          A colleague in South Africa had a big tom cat that was a cross with a Cape Wild Cat. "Thomas" would often provoke a pack of local stray dogs. They would dutifully chase it - until it disappeared into large cardboard box lying on its side with the bottom backed up to a fence. The owner said the cat had positioned the box just so. Only one dog at a time could get their muzzle into the box opening - whence they would get their nose slashed.

          The colleague also had a plot of potential farmland. It included a kopje (hill) littered with stones and home to lethal spitting Cape Cobras. On visits Thomas would find himself a cobra to annoy. The snake would rear up with hood inflated. The cat would keep out of spitting range - while circling round the snake. To keep watching the cat - the snake gradually twisted its body to the limit. At the point when it had to untwist - the cat would streak in to grab it behind the neck and kill it.

      8. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Almost mouse free

        Mine has two modes. Either she views them as food and then treats them as such, leaving the less desirable bits, or she gets bored and leaves the living ones inside the house. This led to an experience of finding a living, though likely somewhat unhappy, young rabbit hiding behind a TV cabinet. The rabbit hadn't done anything to the wires, yet, but it was quite a surprise when we found it. Still, easier to catch than the mice and squirrels. Since there are all these rodents to be chased, she mostly ignores wires. The only exception to this rule is if a wire is left disconnected, in which case the disconnected end apparently looks entertaining, especially so for ethernet patch cables. She will only do this if it's about 04:00 and you'd really like to be sleeping; in the daytime, the cable looks boring and she will just take a nap.

  9. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Coat

    Have you tried

    Chewing on the cable?

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Have you tried

      Yeah. Gave me Bluetooth.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Have you tried

      I'm not that flexible.

      When I lived in California, my housemate complained about his desktop getting hot and cutting out, I offered to give it a dusting and upgrade the cooling fan, the back of the tower had a space where a bit of hardware used to be.

      On opening up I discovered a black widow had taken up residence in there, she was a about 1/2" in body length so a big one, she got around half a can of bug spray before I would go anywhere near the PC.

  10. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I did once have a customer who presented me with a broken laptop. The screen was smashed, and the keyboard had a fist-shaped dent in it. It was clear that someone had punched the thing, and probably thrown it. It was their son's. The same son who had accidentally violently thrown his tower PC's keyboard across the room, destroying its USB port, the year before. I asked what happened to it and she replied, with no hint that it sounded absolute bollocks: "Oh it was sitting closed and turned off on that table, and the cat jumped onto it".

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      I love hearing excuses for broken kit. I had a lecturer when I worked at a university some time back who brought in a PC from home (university machine, used for "home working"). The front of the case had a big dent, the plastic lip above the drive-bays was broken and it looked as if someone had hit the top of the case repeatedly with a hammer (numerous deep, circular dents).

      Without flinching, the lecturer explained that he was having his carpet replaced, the carpet guys had picked up the PC, only for the top lip to break, so the PC fell and landed upside-down in their toolbox. Then when he was driving in that morning with the PC in the car, some idiot had pulled out in-front of him, so he'd slammed on the brakes and the PC had shot forwards in the boot and this explained the huge dent in the front.

      It took all my self restraint to keep a straight face...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Maybe she found believing it easier than not believing it and that might have been part of her problem.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I w**k at a hospital - all I get is that "A patient did it" or "It was like that when I got here".

  11. OssianScotland Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    The Need For Chewed Wires...

    My wife tells me that when she was young, she had (musical) keyboard lessons inflicted on her regularly* She got fed up with them, so cut the power cable with a convenient pair of scissors**, then blamed it on the cat. Her Mum believed her, and lessons were cancelled, but when her Dad found out, he looked at the cable and pointed out that cats do not, as a rule, cleanly bite through a wire. Oops!

    *I suspect they were also inflicted on the teacher, but at least they were paid for it!

    **How some form of electric shock was avoided is beyond me.

    Icon: Obviously Paris is not quite as good looking....

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

      Some people unplug devices before cutting the cable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

        I still have a what was once a rather nice pair of wirecutters. I was just beginning the process of decommissioning an old gas fire, back boiler and central heating pump, to replace them with a wall hung boiler in the garage. So: Open consumer unit, drop out breaker, return to kitchen (where the pump isolator was), identify wire coming from it and cut.

        I am temporarily blinded by the big blue flash and a different breaker is now in the "Off" position and there is now a significant portion of the wirecutter's jaw missing.

        My underwear also needs a refresh

        That will teach me not to do a final power check before I start hacking.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

          My brother once had to tell our mum that the hoover went bang and tried to bite him. He'd tried cutting through the lead with the breadknife, fortunately he was wearing his wellies at the time. 30+ years later, they still have the knife with a perfect semi-circular hole in the blade.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

          "I am temporarily blinded by the big blue flash [...]"

          An acquaintance is a builder. One day the excavator was digging a trench in an area where an 11kv cable was known to be buried. His job was to stand near the bucket and signal if the regulation warning tape appeared. No warning tape - and he was bowled over by the explosion.

          1. wjake

            Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

            Wow. Here in the US, most jurisdictions do not allow machine-digging within 2 feet of a marked utility line. In my only stint in construction, the backhoe operator told me not to worry, he could "feel" the water main through his shovel and would tell me when to jump in and start digging. He was the boss, I had to take his word for it!

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

        Dismantling a shore station (Radio beacon), my assistant\driver\stores guy, cut through the power cable & was surprised by the fact that just because its disconnected from the beacon, it also needs to be disconnected from the batteries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Need For Chewed Wires...

          "[...] it also needs to be disconnected from the batteries."

          The KDF7 was a second-generation industrial control computer. It had a hefty Ni-Cd battery to keep it alive long enough for a tidy shut-down in case of a power failure. The battery terminals had large hex nuts to clamp the cable connectors. Unfortunately the spacing between the two terminals could be bridged with a spanner - which would then become welded to the terminals.

  12. JeffB
    Childcatcher

    Rats' (mouse) nest...

    I work in IT support at a large college, we offer equestrian courses at a farm a few miles away where we rent out classroom and office space. In order to provide IT access for the little darlings in this space which has no options for upgrade, we supply laptops, which are stored in a metal charging cabinet, which has rather large ventilation holes in it... Needless to say, the local mouse population (of which there are many on a farm) found this nice cosy spot, safe from the farm cat, where they could bed down.

    One of my colleagues went out to the farm during the summer recess, after the teaching areas had not been used for a few weeks, to install some updates on the laptops. They found copious amounts of nesting material, droppings and mice (both alive and dead) and spent half the day clearing up the aftermath and noting how many chargers needed replacing. So glad I dodged that one....

  13. Must contain letters

    Big African rats

    Not quite IT, but back at the end of the 70's I was working in Nigeria helping maintain their phone network which used big ass microwave transmitters. These were often in the middle of nowhere and took hours to get to. One day the whole of the north west sector went down and I duly drove up the route and after 5 hours finally found the station that had failed. Turns out there are some mighty big rodents and one had managed to eat its way into the transmitter room, eat through the EHT cables, fried itself and and basically caused the PSU to explode all over the equipment room taking the other equipment out with it. This things body was about a foot long and it still sends shivers down me neck thinking about meeting one of those.

    1. petethebloke

      Re: Big African rats

      Are they the ones that are trained up to find landmines? There are some great YT videos about them.

    2. james_smith Silver badge

      Re: Big African rats

      Sounds like a pouched rat. Big, but very docile. Very intelligent - as well as landmine detection they can be trained to detect TB in sputum samples.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I take your Rats and raise you ant poison

    I'm a PM who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, literally in this case.

    I had arranged the launch of a new County Council Public Information system when this was new technology. it was a very flaky system which we had just got stable. A couple of days before the launch the supplier applied a 'minor fix' which borked everything.

    In order to allow us to launch on time we had to take out the live kit and replace it with a dev laptop hooked up to the cabinet screen and key board. Unfortunately that meant that the comms no longer worked so I had to pick up the central server from our library HQ office And drive it to the library chosen to launch the system at the other end of the county. I did notice some white powder on the floor when I grabbed the server but was in too much of a hurry to do anything about it at the time.

    I got the server there just before we had to turn on the equipment for the grand launch. My tech expert hooked everything up got the server talking to the laptop and we were ready. This was a big deal back then the leader of the council was there in full regalia, local press, senior managers etc.

    As I was stood listening to the rather drawn out speech when my hands start itching, then burning, then swelling. By the time we managed to get out of there ditch thee cars and get to the pub I had what looked like an inflated rubber glove hanging out of each sleeve. Whilst it was quite funny on the day we did need to add a check for ant / rat poison to local install jobs in the future. Once we started looking it was astounding how many our sites did have pest poison scattered under desks, 'as nobody goes there'

    1. Willy Ekerslike

      Re: I take your Rats and raise you ant poison

      Reminds me of the wizards' computer on Discworld - with the "Anthill Inside" logo!

    2. John 110

      Re: I take your Rats and raise you ant poison

      "I'm a PM who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, literally in this case."

      Hi Mr Johnston, how are you?

  15. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    Tabasco

    Also chilli powder. Allegedly birds can't taste it. No furry animal will eat it.

    The only way to rat proof cables as they can gnaw through a steel door to get meat from a freezer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tabasco

      Disagree! We have 4 pet rats here & they LOVE chilli powder! Stepdaughter thought it would be funny to put some on a cracker & give it to them to see what happened & all they done was to polish it off quicker than usual!

  16. juice Silver badge

    There's a rat in mi kitchen...

    Never had anything particularly bad happen to my kit, though I once spent a fruitless evening chasing a mouse around the spare bedroom. Those wee beasties can move surprisingly quickly and can do some impressive acrobatics. Just wish it hadn't been at 3am, and in my house ;)

    Saying that, a friend was once overjoyed to discover that a local tomcat has gotten into his house and sprayed his PC (which had the lid off to help keep it cool) with musk...

    Another time, I bought my dad a hammock for his birthday - big wooden frame, nice canvas hammock. As his birthday's in October, this was duly admired and then stashed in the garage.

    Come summer, Dad went into the garage to bring the hammock out, only to spy a mouse running out of the box. Turned out they were rather partial to the canvas, which now looked like a ragged old fishing net. Cue lots of cursing and a trip to BnQ to buy some traps...

    Eventually, I bought him a new hammock, and the frame was duly assembled, the hammock put into place, and my dad leapt onto it with a big grin. Only for one of the wooden beams to snap, sending him spilling to the ground.

    He's never touched a hammock since...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

      "I once spent a fruitless evening chasing a mouse around the spare bedroom"

      A trick picked up from dealing with escaped lab mice at school. Drop a duster on them. It might take several tries before you succead.

      1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
        Devil

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        We were sitting in the garden one sunny day, when I saw a rat emerge from under the shed and make its way across the lawn to disappear under some bushes at the side of the garden. I went to the shed and got a spade, and went back to my seat under the apple tree. Some time later, the rat poked its nose out from under the bushes to see if the coast was clear, so I quietly stood up and waited. He looked at me, looked at the shed, looked back at me, then went for it. I exploded into action, bringing the spade down several times, but each time hitting the ground just behind the fleeing rat. My wife was in hysterics, she said that it had looked like a live action reply of that famous scene from Tom and Jerry, where Tom is left holding a spade with three perfect impressions of Jerry embossed into it, and in each impression, Jerry is thumbing his nose at Tom. There were no such impressions in my spade, the rat had made a clean getaway, but we never saw him in our garden again.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

          When my wife went to throw stuff into one of the compost bins she disturbed a rat, which started running at high speed... circling partway up the wall of the cylindrical bin like a motorbike on a wall of death. She just left it to its exercise!

      2. Outski
        Pint

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        I tried dropping a large glass mixing bowl over a mouse me and the ex-gf had visiting once upon a time, with the intention of a humane release a few hundred yards away from the house. Unfortunately, Mickey was a little bit too quick for me, and the edge came down right upon his little spine. To this day, dispatching him mercifully is one of the saddest things I've ever had to do, including leaving my family at Dubai airport (visa/hostile environment)

        ----> For you, Mickey (I did think about sadface icon, but it's Friday)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        many years ago on kibbutz - the women in the next apartment asked me to remove a spider. Big furry grey-striped thing about 7cms across. Managed to catch it in an empty tube packet and released it far away.

        As a reward they offered a cup of coffee. As we sat down they suddenly screamed as a large black scorpion wandered out from under the bad on which I sat. My hand was far less steady trapping that one in the tube.

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

          As a general rule I believe the larger the scorpion the less 'dangerous' it is. It's the small ones that you have to be really wary of.

      4. herman Silver badge

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        "Drop a duster on them" - That may work by my Dacia Duster weighs a ton!

    2. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

      To catch a mouse throw a welly boot onto the floor. The mouse will consider this dark "tunnel" a place of safety and run into the boot. Then you can grab the top of the boot and relocate the mouse outside. (or throw it out of the window!)

      No joke, it works!

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        > Various mouse-catching suggestions

        The wee blighter ended up hiding behind a wardrobe sat in a chimney alcove; it was fascinating watching it explore ways to get out of this area which didn't involve confronting the big and increasingly cranky ape standing guard in front of said wardrobe.

        E.g trying to do a chimney climb up the gap between the wall and the wardrobe.

        I then got an old motherboard box, cut a "doorway" into one corner and set it in front of the wardrobe, and the beastie did venture into it. But every time I moved to seal the doorway, it heard me and bombed straight back out to behind the wardrobe again!

        Eventually, more by luck than judgement, I managed to capture it inside a canvas bag, and took it outside. Only to discover after the event that mice have a very strong homing instinct - and shortly after, one appeared on the attic stairs, though thankfully it froze in horror and I was able to trap it under a towel. After which it was driven to the hills and released far, far, far away from my house!

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

          There was a mouse. Where? There on the stair.

          1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

            Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

            ...

            A little mouse with clogs on?

            Well I declare ...

        2. Paul Shirley

          Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

          My wife discovered the homing instinct the hard way, after failing to fully read the extremely short instructions for the humane mouse trap. 2nd time we caught it we hiked to the local nature reserve and released it near enough cover for a fighting chance of surviving more than seconds. Cute little beast as long as not in our living room!

      2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: There's a rat in mi kitchen...

        Upvoted for the welly boot suggestion.

        One of our cats used to bring mice in to play with.

        Let them run a bit, then trap them between fore paws.

        Rinse and repeat.

        Usually about 3 in the morning.

        We were woken by the sound of "patter patter patter bump" repeated many times as the mouse was released and caught.

        I had to wait until the mouse was frozen between the front paws and pop an inverted welly over it.

        Lay it down and the mouse legged it up to the toe end.

        Out into the cold dark night to shake a welly. {Not code!}

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
          Joke

          :-)

          That's how "Puss in Boots" was invented

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where I work the place is full of snakes (metaphorically speaking of course). A fair share of bulls too, given the sheer volume of bullshit I see on a depressingly regular basis.

  18. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    pets and cables!

    I replace a charger a week that has had some pet nibbling on it. One user even told us about the pet getting quite a jolt! I hope that pet learned their lesson!

  19. Daniel Bower

    Keeping it simple

    Checking the simple stuff first is the best advice anyone can ever give. In days gone by I would find myself at a party or two only to be called over to try and get the sound system working. There would always be four or five people tugging at wires, flicking switches on the mixer, power cycling the amps etc. I would always suggest tearing the whole thing down and starting again only to be told that was a silly idea.

    Trouble is, without ruling out the obvious you're shooting in the dark and after another 30 minutes of silence I would invariable get called over to strip things down and put it back together bit by bit. It was always something simple in the end - duff interconnect, dodgy deck or whatever - the problem bit just needed to be isolated...

  20. Roger Lipscombe

    There's something about phone cables as well

    When I was younger, we had intermittent, and progressively-getting-worse problems with the phone. This was back in the days of landline phones with actual dials on them. After some investigation, involving pulling out the sofa, we discovered that the rabbit (who usually lived in a hutch in the garden, but was house-trained) had acquired a taste for the cable insulation and had started chewing through the cable in multiple places. I figure that he would stop chewing when he received a mild electrical shock and then next week would try again in another spot. After judicious application of electrical table, and a ban on the rabbit entering that room, the problem was solved.

  21. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Happy

    'Check all the simple stuff first'."

    The old ones are the best ones. Took me a wee while to learn that.

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    Mark Twain

  22. ChipsforBreakfast

    Squirrel!

    Evil little buggers. Got hauled out to a warehouse one saturday because 'the wifi wasn't working right'. A quick check revealed that about 70% of the AP' (all mounted about 30ft up!) were offline. Switches & other ground based components checked & ruled out I commandeered a hydraulc platform and went in search of the fault..

    There, up in the roof among the girders were the culprits - a family of grey squirrels who'd taken to gnawing on network cables.

    I've no idea what it cost them to get the place recabled but I did suggest investing in a shotgun!

    1. Damage

      Re: Squirrel!

      I've had squirrels chew through the HT leads in my car - apparently they like the taste!

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Squirrel!

        One of my colleagues had his fuel line chewed through by the squirrels in the office car park.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Squirrel!

      but I did suggest investing in a shotgun

      ... so next time some AP's would have to be replaced

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Squirrel!

        Along with half the roof, half the stock and a couple of workers.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Squirrel!

      Not a proper shotgun, rather what they used to call a "garden gun". This is a smooth bore .22, designed specifically to fire shot shells in an enclosed environment. They were (are?) built to dispatch rodents/varmints without blowing holes in the roof, feed bins, livestock or cow-orkers. I have two, one inherited from each of my grandfathers. They are used a couple times per week, and are quite effective over distances of (maybe!) 12 yards or so. Much better tool than shooting ratshot/snakeshot with a handgun.

      Just before hitting send, I DDGed "garden gun" and discovered this. I'm going to call 'em on Monday and see if I can get a demo unit for a couple weeks ... it's kinda spendy to just purchase on a whim, but if it works nicely (Henry makes good kit) I'll buy a couple & retire the antiques.

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I had to rewire various bits & pieces round the phone master socket for neighbours who run their business from home - they'd got a new puppy.

  24. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Had cause to park my car round the back of a relative's place along the Thames for a month, whilst out of the country on an extended holiday.

    Nothing untoward on our return but, some time later, we had issues with a sensor (DPF differential pressure, I think). The actual cause was identified as a not uncommon wiring issue, solved by a small bit of replacement loom, routed away from the problem area.

    To do the job, the guy had to physically access the engine management computer, which involved removing the rain scuttle.

    Had a call from him: "have you got mice?"

    Turns out that while we were away (probably) the little blighters had set up home on top of the EMC. They'd chewed a fair bit of the sound deadening foam under the plastic engine cover and had ago at some of the plastic trunking underneath it as well.

    Little blighters.

  25. Laura Kerr

    eX-hamster

    One of my student housemates had a hamster that he liked to have running around when working. "Had" turned out to be the operative word. One evening, we were all in our rooms working when the power went off.

    A glance out of the window showed light still on in neighbouring houses, so yours truly checked the consumer unit. Yep, main breaker off. Maybe it was just a glitch. Shut off the power, reset breaker, power back on.

    Clunk. Hello darkness my old friend.

    Turned off all individual breakers, reset the main breaker, turned the juice back on and reset each circuit breaker in turn. All good until I reached the upstairs ring main. Clunk, power off again.

    You guessed it. The hamster had decided to have a wee nibble on the mains cable on my housemate's PC. We found it behind his desk well and truly kaput with its teeth still embedded in the cable.

    1. Shooter
      Happy

      Re: eX-hamster

      eX-hamster

      I see what you did there...

  26. IJD

    We lost all power at work a few years ago, all the UPS kicked in fine but they only had about 30mins capacity. We had some long simulations running (a week or so) which we didn't want to abort, so sat and watched the UPS capacity lights gradually ramp down to zero while repeatedly calling the power company. Turned out to be caused by a cat vs. 11kV argument in the local substation just down the road -- leastways that's what they thought it was, it's difficult to identify species after they've lost an argument with 11kV...

  27. atheist

    Rat infested data center

    Had the misfortune of visiting a Rat infested data center while doing due diligence. Some of the rats were retiring, leaving long standing problems.

    A disaster waiting to happen. Only took a few months.

    Same company, another site, had water dripping down the back of the racks.

    There's been a lot of changes there, though no progress. Hopefully the last of token ring is gone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rat infested data center

      "Same company, another site, had water dripping down the back of the racks."

      Comms engineer had a late night call from his boss to go to a customer "they're in the s**t". Unusual for that boss to use such language.

      On arrival the modem rack was dripping with obvious sewage seeping from the false ceiling.

      Earlier in the day the toilet on the floor above had had a blockage. The usual caustic solutions had failed to work - but eventually a drain rod had given a satisfying "pop". The water drained away - along with sewage and caustic solution. Job done!

      The 100mm waste pipe from the toilet was in the ceiling void - and the "pop" had been a rubber sealing joint coming apart above the modem racks.

  28. Jabberwocky
    Facepalm

    Rodent infested XT

    Going back to the early 90s a client brough his shiny XT around complaining that the 5 1/4 inch floppy drive had stopped working.

    Went through all the usual - check floppy drive controller properly seated (yes young fella, those were the days when floppy drives had their own separate controllers on their own expansion cards), made sure that the data and power cables were properly seated, replaced the floppy controller card. Still nothing.

    Eventually I removed the drive only to discover that there was a rodent's nest under the 5 1/4 inch drive (fortunately vacant at the time), and the little critter had been chewing on the ribbon cable going to the drive head. I managed to find another faulty drive with a good head and cable and swapped them over, and away it went!

    But how did the rodent get inside? Well that would be due to one of my pet hates: missing expansion card blanking plate... always fit blanking plates!

  29. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    In one home office I ducked under the desk to check the cables - then couldn't get up again. My knees were glued to the carpet by some sort of.... excretion....

    1. Piro

      Just lovely.

      How foul some people can be...

  30. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
  31. Blackjack Silver badge

    RATPIG!

    RAAATPIG!

    RAAATPIG!

    RAAATPIG!

    *Sung at the tune of sixties Batman theme.

  32. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Distribution switch cabinet

    We had a substation (115 kV to 12kV) go down coincident with a fire in a 12 kV switch cabinet down the road a ways. The linemen inspecting the wreckage located the remains of two very well done rats. Theory was that rats could jump onto and off of the bare bus bars with no problems. But when one saw his buddy passing by on an adjacent phase, they decided to touch noses. The resulting arc conducted enough current (and the individual circuit breakers were mis-coordinated) so that the high side fuses blew first and took out several square miles of power downtown.

  33. Old Used Programmer

    Rug rats, too.

    The only chewed cable problem I've had involved a set of headphones and 6-year-old child.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ferrets are more likely to steal stuff then chew it. One of ours likes to hide the tv remote.

    Another one trashed a external hard drive by throwing it off my desk. This one also liked to knock over the PS2, and the small tv it was plugged into.

    They are also surprisingly strong, our biggest one would push a stack of two car batteries out of the way to get into cupboards.

  35. Adam Trickett

    Cats and rocker switches

    I've known cats stand on power strips with rocker switches, turning thing off at awkward times. A kitten I knew liked the noise Win 95 used to make when you press the keyboard a random (jungle theme I think) - it would sit by the keyboard and pounce on it, Windows emitted a growl, and the kitten jumped back until it plucked up enough courage to try again...

    I know rodents do chew cables, I've found them dead having gnawed on mains cable, but never seem them go for computer cables...!

  36. SuperGeek

    Wheels aren't the only danger!

    "ensuring that the life of a precious pet was not prematurely truncated with a damp squeak by a thoughtless roll of a wheeled office chair."

    Or a nasty electric shock sending it flying across the room. Oh look, a flying pig! SSSQQQQUUEEEEEAAAKKK!

  37. Chris Tierney

    Cat/PC den.

    Was called to an equestrian farm years ago to resolve an issue with an non starting PC. Noticed all the wires went into a very large fluffy cat den under a desk and the desktop PC crammed full of fur. The staff thought it was a great idea to use the PC as some sort of heater both for the cat and as a foot warmer in the colder months.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cats

    I found out cats also have weird chewing habits, like:

    - the small wooden table edges in the living room. One of them buggers has already eroded most of it

    - the radio antenna of my daughter's car: small 20 CM plastic stuff, with a LOT of traces of furry creatures' teeth

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