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Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts

'Chittering' under raised floor was the sound of a disaster recovery lesson

On-Call Ooh! Friday is here! This means it's time for On-Call, in which El Reg acknowledges that misery loves company by sharing stories of jobs gone awry.

This week, meet “Allan” who used to work in a place where the server room “had a glass panel wall with a view into the main operations area."

"This was sometimes handy," Allan told us, "as it meant the team could spot issues without leaving our desks.”

Now that we've set the scene, Allan's story starts on what he called a “particularly uneventful morning” on which he found himself “ sitting in the network manager's office discussing the finer details of a client migration.”

Nothing exciting about that whatsoever, until “suddenly the manager's eyes flicked away and he froze mid-sentence.”

Naturally Allan cast his gaze in the same direction, but just saw his colleagues sitting peacefully at their desks and racks full of kit being racks full of kit.

“I think I’m going mad” the manager said. “I just saw a squirrel on top of one of the racks in the server room”.

Allan says “some discreet conversations over instant messenger” ensued, to “arrange a quiet check of the server room.”

That effort uncovered “angry chittering from under the raised floor.”

Cue a round of phone calls to companies whose services included the words “extermination” and “humane”.

One such company shortly arrived, was ushered into the server room and started setting up traps.

“I couldn’t help but notice there didn’t appear to be much room to hold a live animal,” Allan recalls. “So I asked the guy installing them if the traps were ‘humane’.”

“He picked up a small piece of plastic trunking that was left over from some previous work and poked it into the set trap. There was an almighty bang and a small piece of the trunking pinged off the back of the trap.”

“I don’t reckon it’ll feel that,” the chap told Allan, who found it hard to argue with that conclusion. Not long afterwards, the offending squirrel left the building in a small bag.

Allan and mates soon learned the squirrel “had managed to chew through the insulation on one of the power feeds. It had also munched a couple of the fibre cables leading to a disaster recovery SAN that apparently wasn’t on active monitoring.”

Sounds like Allan and his colleagues could therefore file this one under "bullet, dodged".

The damage was repaired, expanding foam sprayed into the hole that afforded the squirrel entry and things returned to normal in Allan's fishbowl.

But come Christmas, the incident resurfaced as the crew bought the network manager “Some repellent spray, a big bag of nuts, a stuffed toy squirrel and a years sponsorship of a red squirrel named ‘Sparky’.”

“I think he took it in good humour but it’s sometimes hard to tell.”

Have you had rats in the racks, or creepy-crawlies in the cabling? If so, write to me and you could find yourself in a future edition of On-Call. ®


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