Australia's troubled national broadband network is facing a new threat -- cockatoos taking bites out of cables across the country.
Known for enjoying tucking into fruit and cereal crops, the pesky parrots have gnawed through $80,000 worth of cables on the $3 billion internet infrastructure project, NBN Co said on its blog this week.
The organisation said the native birds had been found feasting on spare power and fibre cables strung from its around 2,000 Fixed-Wireless towers dotted around regional Australia.
Cockatoos developed the enthusiasm for biting into the cables, the NBN said, as a way to keep their beaks in top working condition.
"They are constantly sharpening their beaks and as a result will attack and tear apart anything they come across. Unfortunately, they've developed a liking to our cables," NBN's Chedryian Bresland said.
"You wouldn't think it was possible, but these birds are unstoppable when in a swarm. I guess that's Australia for you."
Gisela Kaplan, a professor in animal behaviour at the University of New England, told The Guardian it was unusual for cockatoos to target cables.
"It would have to be an acquired taste, because it's not their usual style," she said.
"Cockatoos usually go for wood, or strip the bark off trees, they don't usually go for cables. But it might be the colour or the position of the cables that's attracted them."
The cockatoo-wrought damage comes amid ongoing roll-out problems for the NBN, including poor service and sluggish speeds.
Customer complaints have jumped more than 150 per cent this year, according to government figures released in October.