The Working Ferret/Rabbit Control

As well as being regarded as a good pet and companion animal, ferrets were originally used as a working animal, primarily as a tool for hunting mainly to provide food such as the rabbit. Others too were used as a form of pest control whether it was for clearing rabbits or rats. It was only until recent years the ferret has been regarded as a pet. Originally being descendants from our native European polecat and close cousin the Steppe polecat, ferrets have this in-built instinct within them to naturally hunt. In the wild, polecats have to survive and fend for themselves and their main prey food is rabbit hence ferrets nowadays and days gone by being used to catch them.

The modern ferreter of today believes that the methods used with ferret and net are the most humane way to catch rabbits. The job in hand entails the ferreter to set nets whether being a purse, gate, drop or long nets around the rabbit bury and over existing holes then to release the ferret into the bury to drive the rabbits into the set nets to catch them. Once the ferret is sent down the holes of the bury, it works it's way through the labyrinth of tunnels to find the rabbits and it's the scent of the 'intruder' that causes the rabbits to make best their escape and bolt into the nets set above the ground only to be caught and then despatched by the ferreter who is patiently waiting quietly for the rabbits to break cover and hit the nets.

Ferreting methods have changed drastically throughout the years but the task in hand still remains the same from when it was first introduced many years ago - to catch rabbits. The modern-day ferreter has many aids to help him pursue his quarry. In olden days, the ferret was carried in a hessian sack or in the pockets of a coat and when used for ferreting, wore a piece of equipment called a cope or muzzle, this then had attached to it a length of cord, twine or strong string called a line. 

The line was then knotted every yard or half yard so the ferreter then had an idea of how far the ferret had or was traveling underground after being released. This ferret was known as the line ferret. At certain intervals, the ferreter then had to dig down to establish the exact whereabouts as to where the ferret was - very hard and strenuous work!

These days, the progression of technology has caught up with and also lends it hand to the ferreter. Ferrets are transported in sturdy lightweight carrying boxes over the shoulder normally made from plywood giving ferrets much better protection from the elements when out in the field. The other major change is that of the line ferret being seldom used these days since the introduction of the electronic ferret finder. The electronic ferret finder consists of two pieces of equipment; a transmitter in the shape of a collar which fits around the ferret's neck and a receiver being a small hand held box which is calibrated to show the exact depth beneath the ground of where the ferret is lying, normally measured in feet. There are two types of locator that the modern day ferreter can use - one which has a depth gauge fitted in the form of a self-adjusting wheel with the depth marked on it, the other being a receiver with an LED display again showing the depth and distance as to where the ferret is when below ground.

Both receivers emit loud beeping/clicking sounds - this is the signal being sent from the collar so that the ferret can be tracked above ground following the direction and noting the depth as to where the ferret is working making life so much easier than using a line. Tools called bars or probes are used too to establish the lie of the tunnel once the ferret has been located beneath ground. These are long metal rods with a bulge attached close to the point enabling the ferreter to feel himself break through the roof of the tunnel, very handy if the ferret has 'laid up' on a rabbit and has to be dug out... Yes, the trusty spade still forms an integral part of the modern day ferreter's equipment and will do too, now and in the future to help keep this timeless tradition alive in many years to come!

We also build traditional ferret carrying boxes to order. We're happy to undertake any builds being the usual single, double or triple varieties - all can be made in either the basic rectangular case or the modern-day 'bow-back' style. We'll even cater to any be-spoke designs to suit your needs. Please see our 'Avon Valley Ferrets - traditional ferret carrying boxes' facebook page for more details and pictures of our box builds:

For prices and lead times, please contact us on any of the numbers or email addresses listed on this website.

Government figures estimate that rabbit damage alone costs the country annually in excess of £175 million and with the native rabbit population ever increasing, figures now suggesting that their numbers are around the 40-50 million mark throughout the country, that's a lot of lost revenue due to the damage they cause, especially to cereal farmers. With our climate changing, rabbits are now breeding all year round adding fuel to their present population boom - approximately ten rabbits can easily eat as much as one sheep! Landowners who knowingly have a rabbit problem on their land or any pest species, in fact, have an obligation by law under the pest control act of 1954 to prevent them causing damage and infestation to neighbouring land and properties although this law has been relaxed by DEFRA. 

We, Avon Valley Ferrets, offer a traditional rabbit control service of which we promote as the most 'greener' alternative solution to using poisons and is a more environmentally friendly and humane way to control rabbits. Areas we cater for include agricultural farmland, smallholdings, equine riding centres & horse paddocks, private estates & gardens, MoD land, public municipal golf courses, playing fields and district council parkland. 

The method we apply in our work is solely by using ferrets, nets and live traps. We don't use pesticides, rodenticides, poisons or gasses - our methods are strictly environmentally friendly and the rabbits caught are humanely dispatched straight away. Our rabbit clearance activities are carried out with the minimal disruption for the landowner and minimum disturbance to the land and property we work on - all land and livestock is greatly respected. Our aim is to reduce rabbit numbers to an acceptable level - please note: Rabbit control is NOT total elimination, a one-off visit may not be enough to control numbers, frequent visits or even an ongoing service may be required to quell numbers depending on the size of the infestation or area.

All inquiries are welcome and considered, we can provide a free 'no obligation' on-site quote and advice service. We don't just offer a 'one-off' clearance solution to your problem we can also offer an annual contractual service to ensure rabbit numbers on your land remain low. Please contact us for further information on our prices and the service we provide. We are fully covered with public liability insurance backing for the work we undertake.

Telephone: 01980 671636 / 07783 475704


Email: [email protected]