With winter moving ever closer, it is an ideal time to deal with rabbit control using ferrets. With the leaves dropping off the trees and the undergrowth suffering it’s first proper frost, rabbits now will move from summer runs (usually in bushes on top of ground) to winter burrows in the ground.

Whilst people often see rabbits running into holes during the summer, they only do this for protection, preferring to spend time above ground – doing what rabbits do best – eating and breeding. In the winter however, they go to ground as the temperatures are stable and conserve energy. That’s when ferreting is at its best.

The process of using ferrets for rabbit control is quite simple:

  • Clear all the holes of debris
  • Place Purse nests over the holes
  • Put 1 or 2 ferrets in the burrow
  • Stand back and keep quite
  • Dive on the rabbits when the ferrets “bolt” them out of the holes
  • Dispatch the rabbit, re-net the hole and repeat until no more rabbits are in the burrow
Some people do not bother with nets and use shotguns or lurchers to catch the rabbits, however we only do this as a last resort if clearing holes cannot be done due to serious obstruction (like walls or fences etc).
The key thing is to understand ferret and rabbit behavior – and keep quite too once the ferret is in the hole. The term bolt means exactly that. A rabbit will come out of a hole at full pelt and if netting will tangle up for just enough time to get it. When shooting or using dogs, the rabbit has a greater chance of getting away – not what we are there to do – we must eliminate the pest problem that rabbits cause and not do it for the pure sport.
Ferreting is still one of the most effective ways of clearing rabbits from an area – both in terms of cost and efficiency. If there is a rabbit in the burrow, it will be caught and killed – simple.
Handling ferrets is also a skill, they get very excited and want to work, so getting hold of one carefully and talking to them all the time is essential so they do not bite you – nothing likes being grabbed at or flinched at – doing this puts them on edge and will result in timid ferrets which bite.
Today, we were working on a country estate in Newbury. We had a new helper for a while, their gardener,  so he was not really used to handling ferrets. After giving instruction and a demo of how to do it, he was let loose to do his best. Unfortunately, our young ferrets are a bit of a handful and once they got a bit excited, sure enough Matt got bitten – not once but 3 times…I think he gets it now! Fair play to him, after he stopped squealing like a girl (which excited the ferrets more!), he did settle down and did well.

A ferret bite - note the 4 teeth marks - ouch!

So if you have a horse paddock, filed or garden, or on a large scales are a farmer with a rabbit problem, contact Rapid Pest Control now for a quote for dealig with your rabbit problem and a rabbit clearance.