Ferrets Pulling Cables


The National Ferret School, in Derbyshire, England, UK, trains ferrets for a variety of tasks including pulling cables though confined areas such as underground conduits, confined areas in old or historic buildings, and for inspection of buried infrastructure.

It is not always easy to thread cables and wires using rods, especially where the conduit snakes its way underground, over false ceilings or through wall cavities, and it is not uncommon for companies to have use expensive plant (e.g. diggers etc.) to accomplish this.

Missing or broken draw ropes can also cause major headaches for contractors, and need to be maintained or replaced.

Our ferrets, under the direct supervision of trained and highly experienced technicians, can help thread cables without incurring high costs.

When threading cables, we fit a harness on the ferret, and attach a strong but very lightweight nylon line to the harness. The nylon line is on a heavy duty reel, ensuring it does not snag nor get too loose, thus impeding the ferret’s progress.

The ferret is put in one end of the conduit/pipe and encouraged from the other end. As the animal makes its way along the conduit, it drags the light line.

Once the ferret has threaded the light line, it is attached to a stronger, heavier pull rope which is used to thread the cable etc.

The first segment of this edition of Electrical News Weekly describes cable-laying ferrets.

The collective noun for a group of ferrets is “a business”.


Rat terriers were used the same way in early Baltimore sewers, they’d drop a rat down one manhole, go to the next, and lower a rat terrier. The dog would pull through a line that was then used to pull the rope that pulled the sewer cleaner. The dog got the rat as a reward.

When my kid bought a house in Baltimore I read up on it’s history, including it’s long delayed sewer system. Her 1880s rowhouse had a door on every floor. Supposedly the door lead out to the 3 level latrine that drained into a cesspool, both removed when sewers arrived but the doors remain. I tried, but failed, to find the article