National treasure: Ferreter

Ben Sergeant, from West Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire.

‘I am originally from Nottingham, a son of a vet, so I grew up with animals. I was introduced to ferrets by a good friend and ferret expert James McKay, 15 years ago and I have never looked back. I really enjoy spending time out in the countryside working with my ferrets and dogs. I try to ferret as much as possible and use purse nets, stop nets, long nets, snares, cage traps, dogs, hawks and guns in conjunction with the ferrets.

‘One important aspect with a ferret is that you must be able to confidently handle them in any situation, because if you struggle to handle them at home you will have no chance at all when they have just had a run in with roger rabbit and are all fired up. Some people have a preference on the colour, sex and size of a ferret. But personally I will use all sorts of colours and on the whole like them to be small, because I also use them for ratting and you need a smaller ferret to fit into the rat burrows.

‘I am asked to clear rabbits when they are causing damage to property or crops, from people with rabbits under their garden shed to farmers with extensive number of acres. But it isn’t just rabbits, over the years I have found quite a few different species with my ferrets; stoats, weasels, I once bolted a fox into a stop net with ferrets, now that is a tricky situation!’

I was once asked by some builders to run my ferrets through some pipes with a line attached so that they could pull cables through. In fact ferrets were used to do the same thing for Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding for the TV cameras.