The great BlackBerry blackout has been blamed on a ‘core switch failure’ but Virgin Media offered a more arresting excuse for a loss of broadband services that hit Scottish subscribers this week – rats chewed through cables.

Services were disrupted in three Fife towns, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Leven, for half of Monday and then Tuesday this week, leaving Virgin customers without broadband, phone and cable TV services.

According to company statements, engineers now blame the loss on “rodent damage”, which is to say rats chewing through fibre optic cables. Making matters worse, the cables had to be repaired twice after the rats returned for a second attack.

"We've now put additional measures in place to prevent further damage to our cables to avoid further disruption for our customers," a spokesperson for Virgin was quoted as saying.

The attack is unlikely to be the first caused by rodents but it is still unusual for networks to be so honest.

Previous service outages by broadband companies have been blamed on everything from thieves stealing copper cables to the straight equipment theft that downed a London BT exchange three years ago.

What attracted the rats to the fibre optic cabling remains a mystery but rodents of all kinds are long known to have a tendency to chew through almost any shielding left exposed if they are given the chance.