I can’t tell you yet if this story will have a happy ending but I am very optimistic because my vet has told me that Scrappy did not need to be put down. I am hoping the degree of her handicap will be minimal. Scrappy caught her left front paw in the shelf of her Ferret Nation cage.

I was not home when this happened so I do not know how long she struggled but the end result was that she freed herself. However in order to free herself, she literally pulled her shoulder out of its socket and even stretched the tendon. The left front shoulder and paw are now completely useless and fold in on her body.  We have her on Pred. to help reduce the swelling. She is confined to a small cage to keep her from moving around. My first thought is yeah right, keep a healthy 4 year old girl” named Scrappy for a reason” immobile!! Well, she is in enough pain that she is not moving/trying to use the shoulder.

Before you jump all over me for not giving her pain medication, the reason as explained by my vet is this; she will stay off the limb, stay quiet and let the nerves heal. If she was numbed of the pain, she would try to play like she is used to.  Crappy is not biting at me, not grinding her teeth or whimpering when handled.  I feel she is coping very well with her situation.

I have tried water therapy and she lay in my hand looking up at me totally unimpressed, not doing anything.  I am going to try again but for some ferrets, the water therapy is a bust!

Now, back to my reason for telling you all this!  This accident did not need to happen. I take full responsibility.  The MFA has 4 Ferret Nation cages. These cages were donated along with a surrendered ferret(s).  I personally think the Ferret Nation cage is the Cadillac of  cages. The large double doors make cage cleaning a breeze. The plastic floor pans are easy to slide out and clean. The shelves are nice and wide.

There is one  problem. The older model #142 had a plastic insert instead of a plastic tray on the shelving. The plastic insert has a tiny  gap and this is where ferrets were getting their front or back paws caught.

FErret Nation shelf with plastic insert-ferrets catching toes under angled bracket or along the edge

plastic insert

plastic insert

wire shelf without the plastic insert

wire shelf without the plastic insert

Now after several ferrets actually died and many more were injured, the Ferret Nation shelf was modified. Anyone with the original shelf could contact the company and the replacement shelf would be sent out. My understanding is that the cage owner had to contact the company. I had read about this problem but at that time we did not have any Ferret Nation cages in the shelter. So, in one ear and out the other as the saying goes!

By the time we started getting Ferret Nation cages donated with ferrets I had completely forgotten about the shelving issue.  In the last seven years we have received 4 Ferret Nation cages and until December 23rd we had never had a problem.  I wish that I had contacted the company and requested the replacement pan even though I wasn’t the original owner.  I previously had no time to go on line to Ferret.com to order treats(my friend looked after that for us) and so I did not see that they sold the replacement pan!

replacement shelf from Ferret.com

replacement shelf from Ferret.com

I have contacted the company, sent pictures at their request and now I am waiting to see if they will replace them free of charge because we are a shelter.  If not, then I will be ordering the shelves and bite the bullet at the $200.00 cost.

I am grateful that Scrappy did not die from her injury. I don’t know how I would have coped with that guilt.

So, if you have a Ferret Nation #142 check your shelving. If you have the plastic insert, please don’t wait till something happens! Learn from my mistake!


  1. I want to add I use the new kitty litter made by arm hammer “Slide” I love it nothing sticks to the bottom and it clumps without losing lots of litter and I never smell any odor. I currently have only one ferret and clean her litter box 2 times days , when I had 2 ferrets I cleaned more often


    • any clumping litter is dangerous to ferrets. If they “snorkel” through the clean litter, grains can go up their nose. the moist environment in the nose causes the litter to swell and block the nostril. litter made from paper products are safe and afforable.


  2. Scrappy passed away directly as a result of injuries sustained by being caught on the shelving. We have upgraded all the shelves in the shelter to their 3rd version which is the tray that fits completely over the wire frame. Scrappy was injured on the supposedly safer 2nd version. Thank goodness her cage mate Theo was able to move on after grieving for her for several weeks.


  3. Hmm I just contacted midwest with these same shelves you pictured and was told these are the safer 2nd version and the ones currently sold are a 3rd version because people wanted deeper shelving for bedding. Even though the newer ones appear to be trays that are totally above the wire framing.


    • the second version is the version that Scrappy caught her front paw on. Sadly she passed away because of those injuries. We replaced all the shelves with their 3rd option which covers the whole framing.


  4. Ferrets can also get their legs , usually hind, caught in the gaps present around the ramp between the 1st and 2nd floors. It typically happens when they are coming down. This happened to my Yogi. Luckily I was home and his screaming woke me up. We got his leg out by restraining him and having another person use all their power to make the gap wider to pop him out. Wasn’t too much damage – alternating ice and heat took the pain down and he didn’t dislocate or break anything. I had a few good bites on my hands, but we were lucky. A cheap way of preventing it is taking the second floor tray out and duct taping all around the ramp area then putting the tray back.

    I do hope your baby recovers with minimal issues!


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