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ferreting

 
paul wheaton
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This is a bit new to me ...

It sounds like you use a ferret to get small game for you?

Is that right?  Anybody know anything more about this sort of thing?
 
Leah Sattler
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I know that they were originally kept as mousers. and they make fantastic pets! ferrets are soo much fun. I had one named beavis. 
 
Gwen Lynn
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"Beavis" is a perfect name for a ferret!  That's great!
 
Leah Sattler
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my first thought is how do you train them?

with falconry they keep the birds slightly hungry based on weight to make them want to hunt. when a kill is made, a scrap of meat is offered and the bird willingly abandons its prey to take the scrap of meat from its handlers hands. a habit which is presumably conditioned in the bird during its initial training.

maybe that would work for ferrets?
 
                          
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I had ferrets for pets for years, with as many as five at one time.

Awesome animals, but certainly not for everyone.

As far as training them to hunt, I think it would be pretty instinctual on their part.  For example, one time I was sitting in a chair with one of our Dutch bunnies in my lap, and one of my boys put one of the ferrets also into my lap.  In a blink of an eye, the ferret went for the bunny.  I grabbed the ferret and pulled him away, with a mouthful of the bunny's fur in his mouth, I might add.  It all happened really quickly and the rabbit never even knew about it (I'm pretty sure), but it was an eye-opening experience, that's for sure.

They also would try to get into the cockatiel cage but the bars were close enough together (the birds are actually in a ferret cage), they were unsuccessful. 

I believe where prairie dogs are a problem, the wild blackfooted ferret has been introduced to control the population.

C.
 
Leah Sattler
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I'm sure natural instincts to hunt would come out. but just like the birds of prey if they get a nice full tummy they stop! so conditioning them to come get their treat and then go kill another rodent would probably have a better effect. they may or may not take to that approach. birds of prey don't have much in the way of brains and reasoning so it works for them.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Ferrets used to be kept to kill rodents in tunnels where cats and terriers couldn't (easily) reach them.  I don't think they got any particular training, just were tamed enough to handle.  Somewhere I read that the hunter would put a heavy bag over the far end of the tunnel to catch the ferret when it came out. 

For anyone who has read the children's book, The Borrowers, it was a ferret that was used, or going to be used, to get the borrowers out of their home under the kitchen floor of the big old house.  (One of my favorite stories, as I used to pretend little people all the time when I was a child.)

Personally, I wouldn't want to keep ferrets.  We once had a friend whose son owned one, and they stink, or their housing does.

Kathleen
 
                          
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They do have a "musk" smell to them.  Those bought from reputable breeds are descented (as well as spayed and neutered), but even with the surgery, there is still a certain odor, although usually mild.

An occasional bath and frequent washing of their bedding, as well as good housekeeping habits of their litter boxes, etc. will help with the odor.

Their pooh does have a strong smell and their litter boxes should be cleaned daily.

Like I said, I loved my ferrets but I know they're not for everyone.

They also have some health issues that are unique to them and you really need to be sure you have a vet who is familiar with ferrets and their specific ailments.

C.
 
                            
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Location: Corvallis OR
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We've had ferrets in our household for 13 years.  The current trio will be our last, mainly because we are shifting our focus from entertainment animals to working ones.  We've had as many as 7, which was too many for us.  We've enjoyed them; they are personable and often totally hilarious to have around.  Fearless chasers of cats and dogs, hoarders of anything prey-sized!

My experience is that the best way to keep odor down is frequent washing of bedding, not ferret, and keeping their toilet areas clean.  Ours are newspaper trained.  Cleaning goes quickly, just replace the papers daily, and wipe down the areas below about once a week.

I suspect that they a rodent deterrents, and have considered using their newspapers as mulch to discourage them.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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You may be right about them being rodent deterrents -- I wonder if they could deter or eliminate skunks?  (I lost a lot of eggs to skunks this last summer.  Of course, it didn't help that Grandma was feeding them -- not on purpose, but she's been feeding the outside cat on the back porch, and has photographed the skunks there eating cat food.)

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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My son kept a ferret for years.  It was with the promise that nobody would ever smell ferret - not even in his room.  He did heaps of research and the solution he found was:  feed them only ferret food and use only ferret litter.  It worked!

So ... back to the question at hand:  if one kept a ferret as a working animal - to put food on the table - what would a ferret catch?
 
                            
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paul wheaton wrote:
So ... back to the question at hand:  if one kept a ferret as a working animal - to put food on the table - what would a ferret catch?



They would catch rabbits.  They are still trained to hunt them in British Commonwealth countries.  However, it is illegal in the USA to hunt with a ferret.

 
paul wheaton
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Sunrise Corner wrote:
They would catch rabbits.  They are still trained to hunt them in British Commonwealth countries.  However, it is illegal in the USA to hunt with a ferret.


Uh .... any idea why?


 
                          
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The ferreters place a snare trap over rabbit holes the ferret chases them out, rabbit stew for dinner

Bird
 
T. Pierce
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go to youtube and look up ferreting.  lots of videos mainly from the UK shows hunting rabbit with ferrets.  they are mainly used as a flushing tool,,sent in to flush the rabbits out, while the warren holes are covered with nets.  rabbits run out,  caught in the net,  the hunters get them out an reset the net.  i understand that they dont want the ferret to actually catch a rabbit, cause then they have to physically dig him out.

seems rabbis are almost like a plague in some of those areas.  much worse than anywhere ive ever been here in the states.
 
                  
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I can see the flushing game out idea working but I don't think that is what the OP is talking about.

In falconry the birds will actually kill an animal then fly to the human for a piece of meat and after being fed that piece they will go find another animal and repeat the process. A big thing to keep in mind here is they are conditioned to do this and it is not a matter of intelligence or a desire to please. In fact in falconry is possible because of a dependence the falcons have built up on the falconer being their source of food the hunting is merely instinct and they are no longer killing for food because they get that from the falconer although they need to be hungry for the killer instinct to take over. Should a falcon decide to eat it's kill in many cases the conditioning is lost at least to a point.

In dogs Greyhounds for example are still used in the US to run down and catch rabbits and give them up to the hunter unmolested (aside from the kill). The reason dogs do this is their willingness to please their human. Of course it is also in their nature to chase prey but giving it up to their human is a learned response based on the fact it is what the human wants them to do. If a greyhound decided to eat the rabbit it just caught it then finds out it's human is displeased and the next time around it goes back to catching the rabbit and handing it over to make it's human happy. (Of course there are always exceptions I had a dog growing up more than happy to tree and bring me every squirrel I shot except the first one which she rapidly ate and after many attempts to change this I learned to be okay with that arrangement)

In the case of ferrets I am by no means an expert and in truth have only been around them never having owned one. I see ferrets more like cats though and while trainable I am not sure if allowed to hunt instincts will not just take over. Case in point the person with a rabbit on their lap and the ferret attacking it with gusto. Cats act much the same but dogs seem to have an ability to suppress these instincts (for the most part) and would look at the rabbit with puzzlement as if to say are you offering this to me or showing it to me because it is yours and I am to leave it alone. I think if you are asking this question you know ferrets and ferret behavior. Correct me if I am wrong in my assumptions but I think teaching a ferret to hunt and give up the prey to you would be about like training a cat to do the same and simply not in it's nature unless it wanted to do it for some reason only known to the animal.
 
Brice Moss
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Most likely the training could be done

I had a cat once who brought every rabbit it could catch to trade for treats, only tried a few mice n squirells no treats for them so he almost never brought them in.

Had a ferret once trained her a couple lol tricks but she would only do them if I was holding a treat
 
                              
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I have no experience with actual ferreting other than what the UK videos on youtube show.  It's also illegal here in the states (don't quote me but I believe I read that, notice no videos from the US)

However, I can assure you the drive comes naturally.  Now granted I bought my ferret from a breeder and not the Marshall Farms "ferretmill" pet store ones, but mine has massive prey drive.  He gets fed a raw diet (ferrets are more carnivorous than cats, do HORRIBLY on grain diets) and I specifically breed mice and rats for him.  Additionally he has gotten the rabbits I raise also.  Not only does he follow me around the house like a banshee hoping for some meat, he's a natural born killer.  I have given him numerous live mice, rats, and one live baby rabbit and he's a man on a mission.  Our cats by comparison are jokers, this guy goes right to business.  It is interesting to note the killing styles.  My ferret always goes for the back of the neck.  The whole thing is over crazy quick. 

I was actually thinking of using him to ferret when I was considering doing a paddock system with my rabbits earlier this week.  He would do a great job.

Just thought I'd chime in.  Great forum!
 
Brenda Groth
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saw a lovely mink running down the road about 2 miles from here the other day and wished it was in my yard..

family members have raised ferrets, they are nice pets.

they sure would hunt !
 
T. Pierce
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Brenda Groth wrote:
saw a lovely mink running down the road about 2 miles from here the other day and wished it was in my yard..

family members have raised ferrets, they are nice pets.

they sure would hunt !


fortuantly ive never had a problem with the mink or weasel.  but i understand that they are a merciliess  blood thirsty killers.  kill jst to kill.  ive talked with a few individuals that have had problems with them.  and very difficult to predator proof your establishment against them.

ferret is a cousin to these. 
 
John Polk
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I, too, have (recently) read that it is illegal to hunt with them in the U.S.  But then again, I have seen nothing saying you need to keep them on a leash when you 'take them for a walk' on your own property.  You can't keep them from doing what comes naturally can you?
 
                  
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The rules and regulations regarding hunting activities are set on a state by state basis. In my state it even follows regions within the state. Check with your state's Department of Natural Resources (or whatever it's called in your state) most even have a website with the rules listed. That said there are a few things like ducks and other migratory animals that also have federal regulations you have to follow and then the state may even have tighter restrictions.
 
Suzy Bean
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Just read an article on ferreting in farm show, vol 34, no 4, 2010. It said that recently, there has been talk of legalizing ferreting with a short winter season and a daily bag limit.  It would be cool, as the author says, to return to "setting the table for dinner without firing a shot," especially with lead being an issue in bullets healthwise (they splinter into the meat) and ecologically, (left animal innards are eaten by birds like condors who then get lead poisoning). It sounds like they are awesome hunters. The article says, "A well-trained ferret could flush more cottontails out of a woodpile in 20 min than a beagle could in 2 hours." I won't go into all the article said, but it is really worth a read. It is this guy telling about growing up ferreting with his siblings and dad.
 
Roger Merry
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Hi

Confused Brit here - ferreting is illegal in the US   This is the gun happy "if it moves shoot it " US is it ??    Very odd .......nearly as odd as fireworks being illegal in Maryland revolvers fine no problem, a chinese firecracker Oooh they're dangerous !!! .. Any how you're all missing out big time cos ferreting is the most efficient method of catching rabbits. Well it is if they are warren living bunnies some of ours don't do that anymore after myximitosis. 

Deal is you dont want the ferret catching a rabbit or it will (not unreasonably) settle down and eat it in the burrow ................ now you have to dig it out, to get it back, which is hard work which is Not the idea 

All you want is the bunnies to be frightened out of the burrows by the ferret - and into the purse nets waiting for them - if a ferret is too good a hunter you can get a muzzle to stop them killing underground.
The only down side to ferreting is getting bitten by the ferret 

Roger 

Sorry but had to laugh about getting a ferret to retrieve game  Be even funnier watching someone trying take bunny from the ferret 
 
                  
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Rabbits here are not necessarily warren dwellers. In fact (at least with the southern cottontails I know) they are more solitary. Now this does not mean you will not find higher populations in certain areas due to it being a better habitat but they are not grouped together in some sort of herd or flock.

The idea of netting game animals in the US went out the window about the same time passenger pigeons died out. You see here in the US there is a complete 180 degree mindset difference in ownership of wild game. In England, Scotland, and many places in Europe game animals belong to the land owner. Game animals there are seen like not much more than any other crop and they are usually hunted as a harvest and sold at market. It is up to the landowner to establish his own plan regarding harvest and population. Here in the US Game animals belong to the people regardless of whose land they are on. Now this does not mean we can trespass to hunt but if we own property, are given permission, or on public lands we can take game animals. Our government on a state by state basis (some migratory things federal) set up game management plans and rules and regulations to follow. This is the reason in England they send ferrets in and net rabbits while in the US we send in dogs and attempt to shoot the rabbits. In England they want every rabbit so they can take it to market in the US some (in fact more than some for a lot of hunters) get away so others can enjoy the hunt later. 
 
              
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Do ferrets go for other animals?

One of the reasons I have no cat is they kill everything wildlife around your property. You lose your birds, frogs, lizards, etc.

So I put up with mice and rats and trap what I can.

Would a ferret decimate the other wildlife or focus on the mice, rats and rabbits?
 
John Polk
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Peter K is right.  The cottontail lives above ground (like hares).  It is the only species of rabbit that does not live underground.  Since rabbits are born blind and hairless, they have little protection from the elements.  If a late frost hits, it can wipe out the season's entire new crop.  Hares are born with full fur and sight, so are better adapted to living above ground.
 
Roger Merry
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Yes ferrets will take anything they can catch so you don't want one on the loose 

The game management rules I understand - we have them too and any hunter fisherman etc never takes more than the population can easily reproduce But bunnies are pests here serious ones and breed like,,, well rabbits  so its pest management rather than game management.

Ferreting only really works on warrens so  you couldn't use them for cottontails makes me wonder why they were banned if they weren't being used ??

Oddly we can use ferrets but can no longer hunt with dogs ...........
 
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