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A colony protection idea I had today.....

Alternative housing for rabbits in groups.
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A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:48 pm


Two things (mostly) made me stop my colony, cocci and RATS! :evil:

As I had mutts at the time they seemed tougher than my now pure bred buns and we only seemed to loose the odd kit and I think, long term, they would have bred strong resistance against cocci.

Rats on the other hand, were totally nasty.

So I was wondering today what would happen if you raised your kits with a young ferret? If you taught the ferret to eat pinky rats and chopped up rat meat along with its kibble would it learn to live in the colony and keep the rabbits safe from rats?

Having had a ferret I know they are staggeringly smart, clever, funny and active critters and have been used as ratters for ages.

What do you all think? Would it work?

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:24 am


I've pondered similar ideas over the years, GBov, but never reached a conclusion. I do know that the best rat control is a resident mink or weasel. They've bailed us out a couple of times when the rat population exploded. (We sure could use one here now.) The downside, of course, is that when they finish with the rats they will start on your chickens or rabbits.

I don't know if a domestic ferret would retain enough of its hunting instincts to be effective. And if it did, would it turn to hunting the rabbits? A two pound mink can easily bring down a rabbit several times its weight.

If you decide to give this a try, please document it for us and report back. It sounds like an idea worth trying.

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#3  Unread postby JudyM » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:55 am


I would really love to colony raise so would love to know the answer to this as well. It seems possible that just the smell of the ferret would keep rats away? Just a guess. We don't have a dog either so I guess we'll go that route first if we need to.

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:45 am


I just googled ferrets for hunting rats. Seems like there is a lot of information there, but no time right now to sort through it.

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#5  Unread postby GBov » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:49 am


My other idea was to totally enclose the rabbit colony with a wrap around pen and breed cats in it. If the kitties have access to all corners, including the top of the colony, perhaps it would keep rats out.

The cost of that has so far stopped me and will as long as I continue to rent but once I actually manage to own my own place I think I will try it.

I envisage a pole barn totally fenced in with free standing colony pens set up inside. Rabbits in pens, cats in free in barn.

Having had a muchly beloved ferret die of old age far before we were ready for him to go :( , we decided to not have one again, they are funny and wonderful critters but they dont fit our family very well. Giovanni will always be missed but we dont want another one.

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:52 pm


Wouldn't the ferret go after any popples, as well, though? I like the idea of having a ratter in the mix to help protect your buns, but I think rat meat and bunny meat would seem nearly indistinguishable to the ferret when they're so tiny...

Also (hopefully others can weigh in on this as well) how well would the bunnies get along with the ferret? It seems like they'd be a naturally prey, so I'm wondering how much time and effort it would take to raise the ferret to ignore the bunnies and vice versa. I know a dog with a very high pretty drive that can ignore a cat rubbing itself all over him, but if the cat starts running away... it's gonna get chased. :x

Can't wait to see what others have to say! :popcorn:

__________ Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:52 pm __________

Also, if just the scent of a ferret could deter rat... Why not try and find a breeder in your area (if possible), and ask if you could have some of the poop to sprinkle in the yard surrounding the rabbit pen? Not sure if this would be a weird request or not. :lol:

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Re: A colony protection idea I had today.....

Post Number:#7  Unread postby AnnClaire » Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:37 am


I have found that a ratter dog is a better protection for colony rabbits. Training is required to imprint upon the dog that the rabbits are YOURS and are to be protected from rats ... as for getting it to go after rats, well, instinct should be enough, but you can buy a feeder rat from a pet store to test the dogs prey drive.

I was happily surprised when one of our lab-mixes turned out to be a great ratter, mole-r, and skunk killer :D

The best mix I have found so far is a dog, a cat, and a rooster ... all three of them are murder on intruders! Even those great big brown rats we have out here!
cheers - AnnClaire

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