Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for animal owners

Published: 2 Oct 2020
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Advice for pet owners and livestock keepers on looking after the health and welfare of their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for animal owners
Ferrets

GB Ferret and other Mustelinae register

Who should sign up

The register is for animal keepers to provide information about their ferret or other Mustelinae. We will use it to contact you with information and guidance about disease prevention and outbreaks of disease affecting these animals.

It will also help us understand how many ferrets and other kept Mustelinae there are in Great Britain, and where they are.

You can sign up if you keep one or more:

  • ferrets
  • polecats
  • hybrids of these animals
  • stoats
  • mink

You are a keeper if you are responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals. This includes animals kept as pets.

You do not currently have to join the register by law. It is likely to become compulsory in the future if you keep more than a certain number of ferrets or other Mustelinae. This number has yet to be decided.

We encourage you to register even if you do not have to by law.

If you join the voluntary register, we will include your details on the compulsory register when it is created. You will not need to reregister.

Why we have a register

Ferrets, mink and other members of the Mustelinae family are very susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They can infect members of their own species and there is evidence that mink can pass the infection back to humans.

If there is a confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets, you may be contacted with information and advice about disease prevention measures.

The movement of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 may be restricted in line with The Zoonoses Order (1989) as amended and The Animal Health Act (1981).

How to sign up

You’ll need the following information to join the register:

  • your contact details
  • the address(es) where you keep the animals
  • the number of animals you keep
  • the species you keep
  • the main reason you keep the animal, for example as a pet or working animal

If you are a keeper in Scotland you can use the ferret register or call 01466 794323.

If you are a keeper in England please use the ferret register or call 0800 6341 112.

If you are a keeper in Wales please register or call 0800 6341 112.

Specific guidance for ferret owners

  • if you, or your household, are required to self-isolate, your ferret should also isolate. This is because there may be a link between ferrets and the transmission of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). If you are self-isolating for COVID-19, ask someone else to care for your ferrets. Otherwise you should always wear a facemask and gloves, avoid kissing and cuddling the animals, make sure you wash your hands and limit the time spent with animals.

  • your ferret should isolate for three weeks (21 days) and must not be allowed out of your household, unless in a veterinary emergency

  • people with pet ferrets do not need to isolate for three weeks (21 days) and can complete their regular isolation period. However, their ferret should stay indoors until their specific three week (21 day) isolation period is complete

Travel with ferrets

  • for those planning to travel into Scotland, it is likely you will need to isolate in a hotel or at home in Scotland for at least 10 days after you arrive. See international travel guidance. You will still be required to abide by the restrictions set out on gov.scot once in Scotland

  • if you are returning from outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) with a pet ferret, your ferret should isolate for 3 weeks (21 days). This is because there may be a link between ferrets and the transmission of new strains of SARS-CoV-2.

  • people with pet ferrets do not need to isolate for three weeks (21 days) and can complete their regular 10 day isolation period

First published: 2 Oct 2020 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -