You all know the saying “the old ways are the best”, well when it comes to rabbit control this is absolutely right. Whilst shooting and gassing keeps the numbers down, nothing clears rabbits like a well executed ferreting exercise.
My first introduction to ferreting was when I was about 5 years old. My granddad was one of the best at ferreting (and many other country ways!) and both me and my older brother used to go ferreting every Sunday morning from October through to March. This is how we earned our pocket money, selling the rabbits harvested to the local butchers. We also put food on the table too, a thing forgotten these days.
For those of you who don’t know what ferreting is, let me explain.
Basically, during winter months rabbits live under ground in holes called burrows. Large burrows can be found in and along hedge rows, in banks or even in the middle of fields where rabbits are a problem. A collection of burrows forms a warren. With experience, you can easily see what holes belong to what burrows, so when you deploy your ferrets, you know what holes need to be netted. A very specific net is used to cover each hole, called a purse net. Once all the holes have nets over, you place one or two ferrets in the burrow, usually starting from one end, then wait for the ferrets to drive the rabbits out into the nets.
Ferrets are carnivorous and if they were wild, they would hunt rabbits as a primary food source. We have domesticated polecats to become tame to humans, but still carry the instinct to hunt. When a ferret is put down the rabbit hole, it starts hunting. The first signs of activity are the rabbits thumping the ground as a warning to others in the burrow, then, if all goes well, rabbits will “bolt” out of the hole, rather than be attacked by a ferret. As the rabbits bolt at speed from the hole, they run into the purse net which catches them inside and holds them in, allowing you time to dive on the net, grab the rabbit and humanly despatch it. You then place a fresh net over the hole to catch the next one.
This all sounds pretty easy, but things don’t always go to this cunning plan! Most of the time, the rabbits will not bolt and get “holed up” (stuck in a dead end hole with no escape). This is where technology comes in to play. Each ferret is fitted with a radio transmitter collar which is tracked by a receiver box. When all goes quite and the ferrets do not come out (usually after about 15 mins), then you walk around the area with your receiver to locate the ferret. If the ferret is stationary, you get a distance and depth fix, grab a spade and get digging!
This is the worst part. It can take hours to get the ferrets out, and all that effort might only result in one rabbit!
When it goes well though, a days ferreting can yield 30 – 50 rabbits in a day and clear a whole area of a major rabbit problem.
At Rapid Pest Control, we always back-fill the rabbit holes once we are happy all rabbits are removed. This discourages new rabbits taking over burrows and keeps the problem away.
If you have a rabbit problem and want it dealt with effectively, contact us today to see how we can use our ferrets to control your rabbit problem.