Top 10 animals that have caused Internet outages

General News

When we think about Internet outages, we might think of heavy equipment digging up a road, or a lorry taking out overhead cables. It might surprise you to hear how many times Internet outages have been caused by animals.Monkeys, rats and even dead cows have taken out fibre connections around the world. Here is our Top 10 List of animals responsible for Internet outages:

10. Beavers


nternet service was down for about 900 customers in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., after a beaver chewed through a crucial fibre cable, causing “extensive” damage.

In a statement, Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé wrote that in a “very bizarre and uniquely Canadian turn of events,” crews found that a beaver chewed through the cable at multiple points, causing the internet to go down.

9. Dead Cows

Even dead animals can wreak havoc with broadband connections. It turns out that dead livestock can cause even more damage to fibre networks than living and breathing ones. The reason? When fibre networks were originally installed through ranching country, deploying the fibre in dry weather could create a scar in the ground. Cattle could easily break a leg in these ruts, forcing ranchers to put them down. The cows tended to be buried on the spot to avoid the spread of disease and discourage predators. This led to ranchers digging a hole with their tractors, taking out the fibre network itself.

8. Monkeys 

India has witnessed a quantum jump of over 10 times in terms of broadband penetration, which increased from ~61 million subscribers in 2014 to ~625 million subscribers in 2019. One of the obstacles to rolling out broadband has been macaque monkeys eating the cables. This problem is compounded in areas with famous temples and lots of tourists who feed the monkeys..

Photo by Nicholas Chester-Adams on Unsplash

7. Cicadas

Cicadas are not just noisy, but a threat to fibre. Females seem to think that aerial cables are tree branches, so they bore a hole and lay their eggs inside the cable, breaking the fibre in the process.

6. Sharks

A video with over 1 million views on YouTube shows a bluntnose, sixgill shark gnawing on a submarine network cable.Google solved this problem by sheathing its undersea cables with a type of Kevlar.

5. Birds

Aerial fibre deployments don’t have to just fend off cicada attacks, but also have to cope with the attentions of birds. Being used as perches by our feathered friends can increase cable sag, hitting reliability.

Additionally, birds can damage the cable sheath itself when gripping it, letting in the elements to the interior of the cable and causing failures.

4. Cockatoos

Some birds are capable of doing damage more directly. In Australia, cockatoos have chewed through cables across the country.

Repairing the damage wrought on the broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already costthe NBN $80,000.

3. Prairie Gophers

One way of reducing rodent damage is to include an additive that tastes bad to them within the cable. Apparently a Japanese manufacturer created a cable that put off local mice from chewing on it. Unfortunately, when it was tried in the US, the additive was no match for the American Prairie Pocket Gopher, which happily ate through it with no side effects. As well as cables, gophers are known to eat/dig through other buried utilities such as gas, electricity and water lines.

2. Rats Perhaps it will not be surprising to see another rodent family member in second place   

A group  of nesting rats chewed through conduit and also several fibre optic cables in the UK causing a three day outage in Tring in Hertfordshire.,restored%20early%20evening%20on%20Monday.

Some 1,800 Openreach’s (BT) broadband and phone customers in North Devon (England) were cut off from their ISPs this week after rodents managed to chomp their way through one of the operator’s key cables.

Scottish customers of cable operator Virgin Media were left without a broadband, phone and TV service after rats nibbled through some vital fibre optic cable, which is apparently delicious.

Virgin Media phone, television and broadband customers in the Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Leven areas suffered outages and intermittent coverage for a period of two days.

Virgin Media engineers called out to fix the problem soon realised that small mammals were to blame.

    1. And the number one animal responsible for Internet outages is Squirrels
Squirrels causing Internet outages

Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash

Before they started protecting their 84,000 miles of cable, Level 3 said that squirrels were responsible for most of the damage caused to their network. The theory was that peanut or other vegetable oil was used in the outer sheathing of the cable and that was attracting the interest of squirrels.

No matter what happens to your home Internet connection, Ottie can keep you online during any outages by automatically switching to the best available mobile network. Learn more about our solution here.

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