UK Politics

Ferrets on a train: Peers told to 'take care' with animals

A pair of ferrets Image copyright RNLI

The thorny question of ferrets disappearing up trouser legs has been raised in Parliament.

Peers discussing Eurostar's ban on animals on their trains were told that 68 ferrets had entered the UK last year under the terms of the European Union's Pet Travel Scheme.

That prompted the Labour peer Lady Farrington to offer words of caution.

She said her son's ferret "did enjoy trouser legs" and it was "very important to take care" of them.

The exchange came as peers pressed Eurostar to reconsider its decision not to allow any animals, except guide dogs, on its trains.

Government minister Lord Gardiner said 170,000 dogs, cats and ferrets had come to the UK from across Europe under the auspices of the pet travel scheme, but it was up to firms to decide their own conditions.

In response, Lady Farrington recalled: "We had a ferret belonging to my son called Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and she did enjoy trouser legs. It is very important for people to take care.

"A former colleague of mine called Derek Hatton started a ferret appreciation society in Wigan, and I had to warn him that I would turn up with said ferret and that he had to beware of her interest of going up trouser legs."

Lord Gardiner offered thanks for the "splendid reason as to why one should be cautious of ferrets" and said he hoped all the other peers "had taken note of what was said about trousers".

The minister said the government did not impose any obligation on transport companies to carry pets and it was a commercial decision for them.

In December, the EU issued new guidelines, including a "clearer definition" of what animals were covered by the Pet Travel scheme to ensure wild animals could not be moved.