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Marseille follows Toulouse in using ferrets to flush out rats

Ferrets are natural hunters of rats. The Connexion interviewed a Toulouse councillor about the initiative last year

The city of Marseille is to enlist the help of ferrets in its struggle to control the local rat population Pic: Harald Schmidt / Shutterstock

Marseille is to trial using ferrets to flush out rats so that they can be caught, with specific sites being earmarked as particular targets around the city. 

France’s Académie de Médecine issued a warning recently over the proliferation of rats and their rapid population growth in cities such as Paris and Marseille. 

It said that city halls should work to develop “rigorous and permanent” plans for “urban cleanliness,” including measures to reduce litter and therefore rodent food sources. 

Marseille has between 1.5 and two rats per resident, TF1 reports, and so has decided to make use of the hunting instincts of ferrets, taking inspiration from schemes already tried in Toulouse, Vincennes and Limoges. 

“We are carrying out many pest control operations in outdoor spaces, but it is difficult because the use of traps in parks and gardens, for example, is highly regulated by European directives,” an official from the city council told La Provence

A different approach is therefore needed, and so the services of a breeder with 25 ferrets have been enlisted to help. 

“When we have studied a particularly infested place, determined the number of animals present and found the burrow in which they are hiding, we fix nets to the exit of each one. 

Two or three ferrets will then be released, will chase the rats through their burrow and push them towards the nets. 

The rats will then be placed in opaque boxes, to reduce their distress, and euthanised. 

“We can only repeat the operation 48 hours later, because ferrets sleep for up to 18 hours a day and get tired easily,” the breeder said, adding that the animals can help to eliminate up to 95% of rats in an area.

The method has proved to be successful in Toulouse, and acts as a “complementary technique” used alongside traditional pest control measures. 

Ferrets cannot be relied upon to completely eradicate a rat population, because when they are inside, the rodents can hide inside walls or dropped ceilings, causing the ferrets to get lost in the building skeleton. 

The Connexion interviewed Toulouse councillor Françoise Ampoulange in December 2021 about the use of ferrets in her city. 

The full interview can be read in the article below: 

Read more: Toulouse uses ferrets to control rats which now number one per human

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