The people of CommScope pride themselves on their ability to develop products that solve problems our customers are facing in the field.  Yes, including the problem of rodents chewing on cables!  

We were first in the industry to introduce our patented Alternative Jacket material on our coaxial trunk and distribution products five years ago. It is a polymer blend that uses food-grade additives such as bittering agents and capsaicins to deter rodents from chewing on the jackets. This combination of “bitter” and “heat” have proven to be successful enough to deter squirrels and other rodents, forcing them to change their chewing behavior while also reducing harm to the animal itself.  

Based on its popularity and success, the Alternative Jacket offering is being extended to other CommScope product lines including fiber optic cables (first in the industry to do so) and coaxial drop cables. This expanded offering is an example of how we listened to our customers as they voiced frustration with having to repair damage caused by chewing vermin.

Squirrels and other rodents have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. To keep these teeth from growing too long, they must “cut” their teeth back by chewing on material that is soft enough to not break them, yet strong enough to wear them down. Cable components like steel armor and aluminum meet this need perfectly. Many vermin use aerial cables to aid in this chewing process. This resulting damage can result in poor signal quality or, worse, services outages. Our Alternative Jacket is making them think twice about chewing on our cables. 

Our product has a proven history. In fact, we conducted a seven-year, multi-state, multi-location field study. The study consisted of placing samples of bare coaxial cable, jacketed coaxial cable, jacketed/flooded coaxial cable, and Alternative Jacketed cable at locations where cables had to be replaced several times per year because of squirrel damage. The field study clearly demonstrated that squirrels selectively chewed on the cables that were not covered in our Alternative Jacket material. Samples with Alternative Jacket were typically found to have only slight cosmetic damage; however, the cables did not have to be replaced. 

So, the next time you see a squirrel running from pole to pole on a cable, hope that it is running on a cable protected by CommScope’s Alternative Jacket. Otherwise it may take a bite out of your broadband services.

About the Author

Keith Tramel

Keith Tramel is the product marketing specialist, Broadband Fiber Optic Cable for Outside Plant Solutions for CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. He has worked in the telecommunications industry for the past 13 years. Prior to his current position, Keith’s experience includes customer service representative and manufacturing. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration–management from Concord University.

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4 comments for "CommScope Helps Win Another Battle of Network Vs. Squirrel"

For the operators who have already rolled out Ftta might take long to bite back. The challenge at the moment is for those optic fiber which are installed already. what could be a solution to that?

Keith Tramel

Our patented Alternative Jacket is available on new installations/deployments only. There are some options currently available on the market designed to be added to fiber; however, I am unaware of their success rates. I’m curious to learn if you believe adding a rodent repellant to previously installed cable is a growing need in the industry?


Hi keith,questions is will operators be willing to replace all the fiber already installed? The problem they are facing is that 3 fibers are installed for each sector and in most cases one will go faulty/eaten by rodent. So for me yes there might be a need for that or they must look at rolling out different fiber like commscope one for their new sites.

Keith Tramel

Hello, I believe that operators will replace the cables on an as-needed basis.

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