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Monday, April 8, 2013

the rodent menace at home, on train and on air !!!

Can you identify this animal ?

When watching the greatest of animated cartoons – Tom and Jerry – people relish the never ending rivalry of Cat and Mouse often involving comic violence.  Often people support and enjoy Tom (the aggressor) getting into trouble whilst chasing Jerry.  But in real life, for most cats are good companions, most sought after pets. They also are effective rodent and pest control solutions.  Even in city (not to speak o the suburbs) there is the problem of rodents – mice, rats, squirrels, birds and even monkeys, sometimes.  Then there are lizards, cockroaches, ants  and other insects – all living inside the house and spoiling many things. 

This post is not about the menace at home !   all about the menace in transportation (marine insurance related !!)  

Indian Railways is an amazing cluster of network expanding throughout the length and breadth of the country – the Bharatiya Rail has 113617 kilometers of track and 7083 stations.  30 million passengers reportedly  are carried everyday.  There is so much into it – tracks, railway wagons, rail engines, technicians, ticket checkers and more……  Quite uncharitably, people deride the system for the late running and for the not so comfortable one might get often due to various factors. 

One of the causes of train delay is point failure   Point is nothing but switches – mechanical installations enabling trains to be guided from on track to another.  One of the causes of point failure is rodents on tracks.  A point failure takes place when some object gets stuck in between the track of meeting of the stock rail (the main track) and tongue rail. The tongue rail determines the direction of a train, and can be seen at cross-over points where trains switch tracks.   Stones could come in between the tracks, plastic bottles and sometimes rodents also get struck. 

When one travels – there could lot of discomfort as some compartments are infested with cockroaches and rats.  In the air conditioned coaches, this is a big menace.  Rats and cockroaches are a common sight on suburban as well as long-distance trains.  Some say that the main source of rats is suspected to be the pantry car. Pest control happens at yards and trains are also cleaned after each trip; still rodents are there – perhaps entraining enroute !  some make tiger out of rats, scream and complain – some endure when there is no cure.    Trains are maintained  at two points, primary being the originating station where rake goes for a thorough cleaning and secondary being the destination where again the train is put to normal cleaning.

Now there is news (BBC) that this is not peculiar to Railways alone, but a  Nepal Airlines Boeing 757 was grounded at Hong Kong's airport after a mouse was seen in the cockpit.  The passengers  had to stay back in hotels as efforts continued to trap the stowaway rodent.  Sources quoting the Nepal Airlines General Manager  stated  that the plane would have to remain in Hong Kong until the mouse was caught, as the mouse was perceived as a  potential safety risk.  They said that  it was capable of chewing the aircraft's cables and could unsettle some passengers.  The incident is the second embarrassment for the Nepalese airline this week, after the same plane was reportedly grounded for more than 11 hours at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport  - also because of a mouse.

This is not entirely unique as a similar incident reportedly occurred at Stockholm, when a mouse on board an SAS Airbus meant that 250 passengers were left stranded.  Much earlier, two  Delta Airlines flights from New York to London were cancelled in November 2009 after mouse sightings.  At Stockholm, the creature evaded capture despite extensive search and numerous mouse traps were reportedly placed.  The aircraft being a large one, getting a replacement was difficult. 

On yet another occasion, more than 100 passengers on a Saudi plane were left panic-stricken by the unexpected appearance of furry fellow flyers - dozens of mice.  The small rodents - about 80 in total, according to a local newspaper - escaped from the bag of a man travelling on the domestic flight. An airline official said the aircraft was at 28,000 feet (8,500m) when mice began scurrying around the cabin.  The  incident occurred on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from the capital, Riyadh, to north-eastern town of Tabuk The flight landed safely and the bag's owner was detained by police investigating how he managed to get the mice onto the plane.  No explanation was available for the  man' live cargo. 

The one at the start is the domesticated mammal – Ferret.  In UK and some other Countries they are used for ridding barns of rodents and for flushing rabbits from their dens.  In US, they are lovable house pets.  Ferrets are extremely smart and can be taught to do many tricks similar to dogs.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

PS :  Made on 13th Sept 2011 and posted on blog now.......


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