home >> Northern NSW owners >> ferreting
ferreting...

"Not a sport for all and some may disagree with it entirely, however, this website was build to inform people about ferrets and people use ferrets for ferreting. Please remember when rabbits are referred to, they are wild rabbits, not pet bunnies.

The use of ferrets for catching rabbits goes back several thousand years. In Australia we have a problem with wild rabbits that costs, even now with calicivirus and myxomatosis, in excess of $130 million per year. Ferreting may be viewed by some people as a bit barbaric perhaps, but compared with the use of 1080 baits and burrow fumigation with phostoxin, or the use of explosives to blow warrens up, it is probably a great deal more humane.

Shooting is probably the most humane way of rabbit control, but even this occasionally goes awry. Trapping rabbits with steel jawed traps is mostly illegal, and in any case is about as barbaric as anything could be. Even the "humane" traps that keep them alive cause quite a bit of stress. (Life for a rabbit is, in any event, not quite the happy vegetarian lifestyle that one might imagine - I used to wonder about the number I caught with what I thought were bad "cat scratch" claw injuries - it turns out they were made by other rabbits - they fight over space and mates and often cause each other shocking injuries.)

Ferreting sometimes results in the loss of a ferret, often to snake bite or burrow collapse, so many of us do not risk our pet's lives by using them in risky situations."

Written by Geoff Smith of the South Australian Ferret Association


"The ferrets we, at least our members, use for rabbiting are our cute cuddly pets and their job is purely and simply to chase the rabbits out of the warren for us to catch in our nets and process at a later time in the day. Once they come out of the burrow, having done their "job" they are again our cute cuddly pets, but have had a fun day. We then make sure they are "fed & watered" and we can go off to the nearest farm to kill and dress the rabbits.

Rabbiting must be done very early in the morning, at least here in the West, as you need to be at the warrens setting up before they go out for the day. It must also be a very cool day or your ferrets will die from the heat. One must set the nets from behind so that the wind does not blow your or your ferrets scent down the burrows, as if this happens the rabbits will just "bolt" into their respective holes and no amount of "coaxing" by ferrets will get them to move. Putting the ferrets in "downwind" allows the ferrets to catch the rabbits unawares and they will then race to the nearest exit and into the nets for he "owners" to catch and place into the holding pens for later. This may not happen as quickly as it sounds, but should not take too long. It is also a total waste of time even setting up on a very windy day, as when this happens no amount of "coaxing" will get a rabbit to leave it's burrow.

Before putting ferrets down rabbit holes, one must give them a "small breakfast" and in this way they are not hungry and do not find it necessary to kill and/or maim the rabbits when they find them; they know it is their job to chase them out.

Once your ferrets begin to come out of the warren it usually means they have done their best in this one and it is time to collect them up and move on to a new warren so they can try again. Mind you, you must also be aware of how much time they have been working and how tired they can be as it just might be time to go home, forcing your animals to go back again and again just results in them staying down there for a sleep, which can mean waiting quite a few hours for them to come up gain,
Part of setting up a warren for "working” involves checking for signs of predators which may result in the death of your pets. Foxes leave very distinct odour, bees are of course quite obvious and there are usually signs that snakes or goannas are present, but not always. The very best warning that something is wrong is when your ferret/ferrets do not want to go down the holes and when that happens, do not force them, just pack up and move to another warren and you will not end up regretting your decisions."

Written by Dianne Rohowicz of the Western Australian Ferret & Ferreting Society Inc.