Have Squirrels Ever Threatened the U.S. Economy?

Squirrels chew on twigs and other objects to sharpen and shorten their incisors, which grow quickly and need regular attention. But urban squirrels and other rodents have discovered that chewing on wires works well, too. Just ask Level 3 Communications, which routinely finds damage to its network of fiber-optic cables, or your local power company, which has undoubtedly also seen evidence of rodent teething. In fact, NASDAQ’s electrical system, based in Trumbull, Connecticut, has twice been taken down by squirrels. This happened first in 1987, when a squirrel caused an 82-minute shutdown, and again in 1994, when a power line was severed and trading on the world's second-largest stock market stopped for 34 minutes.

How to drive NASDAQ nuts:

  • During the 1987 shutdown, traders were forced to write orders by hand and send them off in pneumatic tubes, just like in the old days.

  • NASDAQ now has a backup battery at its computer centers that can power trading for 30 minutes after a disruption -- long enough for the diesel-powered generators to be fired up.

  • Power backup systems were installed in 1990, and trading has been successfully switched to battery power hundreds of times -- except during the 1994 squirrel incident, when the backup system also failed.

More Info: The Atlantic

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