Today was our first outing of the season with the ferrets for rabbit control. Everything looked against us – the weather has warmed up, the sun was out (for a change) and the ground was very wet following the recent storms – the worst possible conditions for ferreting – but despite all this, today was the day!
One of our regular clients was desperate to get a grip on his rabbit problem, so we booked this job in a few weeks ago and the date just could not be changed. As usual, all good intentions of cleaning everything off, sorting out the nets, getting the collars fitted with new batteries, the ferret finders mended, spades sharped went by the wayside, so at 6:00am this morning I turned the place upside down looking for everything….typical!
The ferrets had got fat over the summer months, so a bit of exercise would soon have them back on form. I decided to take 2 young ferrets for there first outing – not to work but to get used to everything, and 3 of our good workers, 2 of which decided today was the day to be snappy and both tried to bite me as I was getting them into their boxes. Anyway, we finally set off for Basingstoke.
The area we were due to ferret was once a cricket pitch, complete with a very nice pavilion. Over the years, the pitch had fallen into dis-repair and rabbits had taken advantage of this, making it their home. Rabbits do an amazing amount of damage, both above and below the ground and in a few years had reduced this once great cricket square to a series of scratches and poo-heaps, but today it was our turn to knock them for 6!
Steve, our Ops Director joined me today on this job. Now Steve doesn’t do ferrets – doesn’t like them, doesn’t trust them and has as little to do with them as possible. His thing is falconry. Last year I did persuade him to come ferreting on a few occasions and he did enjoy it, but over the summer his enthusiasm for ferreting seemed to be lost.
At the first bury, there was a small fence separating the holes, 2 each side, so I did one side and Steve the other. We netted up and popped in a ferret. The telltale thumping soon started and within moments a rabbit flew into one of the nests on Steve’s side.
Now anybody who ever comes ferreting with me will know, I am insistent that you dive on the rabbit very quickly, put your foot over the hole and despatch the rabbit instantly – or pass it to me to deal with. To my mind, they must be killed quickly and with minimum fuss and a net replaced instantly ready for the next rabbit. Steve was caught off guard when this one came out, tripped over a bramble and missed the rabbit completely, grabbing hold of the bramble bush instead, allowing the rabbit the split second chance to escape….I was the other side of the fence and could just stand and watch the comedy unfold!
I did bite my lip…well almost!
Anyway, once things had settled down again, the ferrets did there job and pushed out 3 more, which were dealt with in the accustomed manner – then on to the next burrow.
All in all, despite the shaky start, we had a great day catching 13 rabbits in one small area. We did have to “dig” on 3 occasions where the ferret had driven a rabbit into a blind hole and pinned it there. All the ferrets wear a radio tracking collar just for this event. When the rabbits stop thumping or bolting out of the holes, you know the ferret has one trapped, so you locate it with a receiver which tells you the position and depth, then dig down to retrieve the ferret and hopefully allow you to grab the trapped rabbit and pull it out too.
I alway amaze Steve when doing this – today I dug down, retrieved the ferret, pulled out one rabbit, then another…it just shows you what happens and it makes you check again – just in case!
So despite everything today, we had a great first day – if this continues over the next few months, I will be delighted – and the rabbits will get a good pasting this year!
Ferreting is one of the most effective ways of clearing a rabbit problem and it works out very cost effective in comparison to gassing and even shooting – the main thing is you get a product at the end of it – undamaged rabbits in excellent condition – just what our local game dealer wants.
If you have a rabbit problem, contact Rapid Pest Control now for advice and help on dealing with rabbits. With offices in Newbury, Basingstoke, Reading, Oxford and Swindon, you can be sure of a fast effective and reliable rabbit control service.