Over the years I have ferreted more than a few times, so I would like to think that I know what makes a good working ferret. At this time of year lots of kits are being born; the whole point of breeding is to improve on the ferrets that you already have. The litmus test is gauging exactly what you have and how, if possible, can you improve on it. With regret I have to say that today’s ferret is a completely different beast from that of 10 or 20 years ago.
The mighty ferret has become a victim of its own popularity, hybridised beyond belief and weakened by the same DNA that previous generations of owners had taken care to eradicate — a sad yet true statement based on the evidence I have seen and the feedback from the rabbiting community across the UK. It was once a powerful, fearless marauder of rabbits, and had a stronger prey drive and fight mode than any other domesticated species, but sadly today not every ferret would know what
a rabbit is or what to do with it.
The greatest loss to the ferreting community is a particular type of character that kept ferrets. These were the owners who could only afford to keep animals that earned their keep. These people are leaving us and with them go their knowledge and their strains of ferrets. Today it seems to be convenience and fashion that tick the boxes for ferret owners over having ferrets with a strong prey drive, sound confirmation and excellent social skills.
This sobering reality forced me to have a good, hard look at my own ferrets. For them to survive and prosper as I wanted, I realised I had to expand, build a better team, weed out the weak and concentrate on the traits I wanted to cement in my strain. I had to carve out a plan that wasn’t a short-term fix but a vision for the future, the rest of my life even.