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The Rat-Related Internet Outage in Ontario

Why don’t the rats want us to be online?

A rat, probably searching for cables to mess up.
A rat, probably searching for cables to mess up. Peter Pearson/CC BY-SA 2.0

When students at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario found themselves unable to get online this past weekend, some of them may have shouted “Rats!”

They were right. According to the CBC, rats chewed through the school’s fiber optic cables and brought down the network.

Luc Roy, Laurentian’s chief information officer, figured out the problem. After addressing it, he had some advice for the perps: “If there’s a rat listening, I would caution it [not] to eat fibre because it’s glass at the end of the day,” he told the CBC.

Cables (delicious).
Cables (delicious). Steven-L-Johnson/CC BY 2.0

Roy also suggested that this type of outage be named a “rat,” just as a software glitch is called a “bug.”

It’s not a bad idea—rodents are constantly interrupting human festivities by chewing wires, whether it’s mice decommissioning air conditioners, rats eating Volvos, or squirrels gnawing through Christmas lights. Wildlife control expert Bill Dowd told the CBC it’s because they’re attracted to new, eco-friendly wire coatings, which are commonly made of soy.

But it could also, of course, be part of a larger plan.

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