So, I'm sitting here looking at a chewed up extension cord that I just unplugged from the wall out of fear. Both the neutral and hot sides (no ground) have been chewed to (and part way through) the bare copper. My rabbit is nuts, I know, but did she really continue to chew while receiving 120 volts AC for her trouble? This is throwing everything I thought I knew about electricity into a tailspin. Maybe she wasn't grounded well, but I've been shocked myself when I was probably less grounded. Any help greatly appreciated!
Why did the rabbit leave the cable alone after a while? Perhaps she did receive a tingle.
Teeth have a high resistance. It's unlikely a fatal current could flow through them. A fatal scenario would need the rabbit to be well grounded at a remote body point, and to be contacting the bare live with lips or tongue. Contacting both live and neutral with lips might leave a burn (and be very educational for the rabbit) but be unlikely to kill.
The short circuit would have been, well, short, and not through a critical, electrically sensitive organ like the heart. The rabbit may have felt a shock, tingle, burned fur or flesh or other effect but that does not necessarily mean it was safe. That it did not die is simply one outcome of chewing on electrical cords.
Keep in mind, that while the conductors may have been exposed, unless they were shorted out with something like spit or flesh, mains voltage is not high enough to conduct across a nominal air gap.
Aside: My old electronics teacher in high school used to tease us with touching mains voltage between two fingers on the same hand. Due to skin resistance and the non-harmful path, this is technically safe, but I still didn't want to risk it, even knowing the science behind the trick.
Common misconception. Touching mains isn't 'automatic death'. It's Russian Roulette.
Several factors have to converge in order for it to kill you (or not kill you). One is skin conductivity (conductance is 1/resistance). Another is how much current flows and each of the different routes through the body. Current follows all parallel paths in proportion to their conductivity. (And now the paralleling resistors formula may make more sense, you are simply adding the conductivities).
Obviously, good practice and use of PPE (such as GFCI/RCBO) can control those factors nearly 100%, that is their job.
But a lot of electrocutions are wildcard situations like finding (or gnawing) a point of failed insulation, using a landscaper's bucket truck (which isn't insulated) too close to distribution lines, etc. In these wildcard situations you just can't control enough factors, and that's what makes it Russian Roulette.
protected by Tom Carpenter Aug 21 at 8:23
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?