Assigning Responsibility for your ferrets

This is never a pleasant topic of discussion.  What would happen to my beloved ferrets (really all your pets) if something happened to me?  Well my spouse or partner would take over! But what if both of you are involved in the same accident and pass away?  Well my adult children would take them!  Are you sure?  It’s nice to think that our immediate or extended family would jump in and take our pets but life isn’t always fair.  Our family may not like our ferrets, may have pets that would not get along with your pets or maybe they just don’t have the room to take in anymore.

My son and his wife went to Grand Forks for the weekend.  I went over each day to feed and play with my two grand cats.  Now I love these two cats.  We had cats when my sons were growing up. However, if something happened to the both of them; what happens to their cats.  As much as I love them; they would not fit well in my home.  My dog Miki would not be impressed and of course Raven and Salem would most definitely be scare of the dog. Then of course I have many fostered and personal ferrets in my home.  Again, Raven and Salem would not be impressed by being chased around the house by my furries.  Perhaps my daughter in laws parents would take them but, I don’t think they are cat people.  Now who would take their cats?  I know how much they love them and I would never place them in a shelter but what would I do? I guess I would be down to seeing if any of their friends would take them and hope that I am doing the right thing.

Two years ago Helen, our Winnipeg Beach Shelter Mom was killed on her way home from work.  When family called to come get her ferrets it was a nightmare.  Helen had not gotten around to hanging the pictures with documentation on the 5 different cages.  In my shock, I did not grab my back up shelter documentation book. Jeanne and I spent an hour trying to match ferrets with their names and documentation.  We even forgot one ferret whom Helen had left out to play while she was at work.  Fortunately we hadn’t gone too far before family called to say a ferret had appeared at their feet.  We were carrying pet carriers and food and stuff out of the house. We were not watching for loose ferrets. Thank goodness she didn’t escape outside or worse left behind with no food or water.

Helen also had a dog named Dudley.  He was a goofy mutt who loved the ferrets and that is why Helen tolerated his accidents in the house.  I knew I couldn’t take him as I had two dogs at home at that time.  I loved Dudley and was so worried what would happen to him.  Her family were not pet people and I knew they wouldn’t want him.  Thank goodness a neighbor stepped up and took him.  He would have ended up in a shelter and euthanized as he wasn’t completely housebroken.  That would have broken Helen’s heart!

The lesson I  learnt was thank goodness I was an “organized freek” because if the roles had been reversed, family and friends would have had no trouble knowing which ferrets belonged to me personally and which ferrets had to be re-homed within the shelter community. All my cages are labelled. I have their picture and on the backside are a the most important details.  I even have a copy of their latest vaccinations.

Several months ago, our former webmaster Teraysa passed away suddenly.  Family called us.  She had one ferret in the top cage and two in the bottom half.  A huge bucket of food and treats nearby.  Taking the ferrets wasn’t a problem. Trying to figure out their names and ages was something else.  I had to scan through all her pictures that she had posted on her Face Book page.  Thank goodness she loved to post pictures of her pets.  The one ferret I thought I knew wasn’t. That ferret had passed away about a year prior. Thank goodness she had posted a RIP for that ferret and then pictures of the new baby!  We had their names but no information on when their vaccines were done.  We never did get any documentation from her family as they sorted through her stuff.

Besides my ferrets, I have a miniature Eskimo dog, 10 years old now.  If something should happen to me, I have plans in place for her to be taken care of.  I have not left that burden to my family, none of whom could take her.

Years ago, we developed a short check list for our members so that they could plan and organize responsibility for their ferrets and other pets.  The hand out was given to all new ferret owners but as it is a sensitive topic I am sure it was quickly misplaced.  I went looking for my hand out and found it in my files.  I have revised it a bit and I am posting it below so anybody with pets will be reminded that they should make plans for their pets in case something happens!

Assigning Responsibility for your Pets

It is important to make arrangements for the care of your ferret in case you are incapacitated through illness or injury or in the event of your untimely death.

  1. Have written instruction as to whom you wish to have look after your ferret . Have the document witnessed by two independent people of good character. You may even want to include the assignment of your pets in your will. Consider allocating a sum of monies for their continued care.
  2. Prepare an information sheet for each ferret:


  • Description of each including special markings /annual photo
  • Location and description of each cage
  • Details of what brand of foods – where to purchase their food
  • Details of what litter you use , how often to change it and where to purchase
  • List of favorite treats, and how often they are given
  • Details of bathing, toe-nail clipping and ear cleaning
  • Details of favorite play times, toys, and behaviour
  • Details of socialization with other types of pets such as cats or dogs
  • Details of any current medical conditions and med regime
  • Name, Address of Vet
  • General information on personality of the ferret


  1. Leave a copy of your instructions with a reliable family member or friend who can speak on your behalf immediately. If the only copy is in the safety deposit box at the bank, by the time the document is located, your ferret may have already been disposed of unintentionally. Make sure your family is aware of your wishes and will not dispute your request.
  2. Make sure you review and update this information on an annual basis.

At the shelter, on the back of each picture of the ferret is the date of surrender. We also list Gender, Age, Color type, and then there are several lines for notes such as: climber, best friend is……..

Your family may remember that you have a banditt and a Loki but these names are not gender specific and they will not remember who is who!  The more info you can provide the better your ferrets and or other pets will be cared for.

Updated: June 2017

Lulu and her new Hanging Sleep Sack

Lulu is a tiny sable female that was surrendered to the main shelter in 2016.  I think her young owner did not understand how important it is to handle baby ferrets and to teach them not to bite. So at eighteen months when Lulu arrived; she bit hard enough to still draw blood and she was afraid of hands.

After a few months Lulu had learnt not to bite Mommy. Unfortunately, she bonded to Mommy and did not trust other hands.  We are still working on this issue by having a couple of volunteers coming in and handling the ferrets including Lulu to get them used to/trust all hands.

Lulu was moved into the the youngsters cage. This cage has Corky, Pepsi, Cola, and Mouse. Corky, Cola and Mouse have no issue with Lulu and play or snuggle with her.  Miss Pepsi is another matter. She intermittently takes a round out of poor Lulu! There is much screaming and such when this happens.  I don’t want to put her by herself because she has fun with the other three.  I correct Pepsi every time I hear her picking on Lulu. However, there are enough times (I am out of the house or asleep) that Pepsi gets away with it, and so she continues. Pepsi and Cola came in together and I will not take her away from her sister. Corky and Mouse love them all.  What a dilemma.

I found a small hanging sleep sack (surrendered with another ferret years ago) and decided to put it in their cage for Lulu.  If she climbed inside maybe she would feel safer from Pepsi and could defend her “space”. Eureka! Lulu made a beeline for this sleep sack and claimed it.  I only hear some squawking now when Pepsi tries to climb into Lulu’s sack.

I only had this one hanging sleep sack and this made things difficult for Lulu when it was in the wash.  Adrienne, the shelter’s ferret Oma got busy and made Lulu several hanging sleep sacks just for her.  Now I can have two hanging on the bars of the cage and two in the wash.hanging-sleep-sack-for-lulu

It was cage cleaning today, so I got busy and hung up the new sleep sack.  Lulu and crew were running around but somehow Lulu seemed to know what I was up to.  Or maybe seeing the dirty one on the floor she was worrying about what she would sleep in? All I know is that she climbed into the cage over my shoulder to check things out.  I had my cell phone in my pocket (not a normal thing for me which is why I miss so many good shots).  I took a few quick pictures; no time for posing!

Lulu climbed into the new hanging sleep sack. Sniffed around I assume and then peeked out at me.  I think she was tickled pink to have this slightly larger, softer hanging sleep sack.  I took Lulu out so that she could finish her play time.  When they all went back to bed Lulu jumped into her sleep sack and no one went near her sack. She must have had a few words with her sisters about who “owned” the new sleep sack Mommy hung in the cage.  All is peaceful FOR NOW.  Pepsi can be stubborn and she is an alpha girl………………….. so I hung two so they both could “claim” a hanging sleep sack.



New Hiding Spot

I had my three old ladies out playing on Sunday morning.  I was changing some litter boxes in the shelter room and these scrawny ferts can fill a litter box quicker than any other cage so I was doing their cage!  Mariko, Finni and Rosie will tootle about for about 45 minutes before finding a nest box to crash in. It had been an hour and I knew it was time for them to go back to bed.

Rosie - you can't see me!

Rosie – you can’t see me!

Finni- I smell something!

Finni- I smell something!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

My  nine year old grandson, Holden arrived early for his bi-weekly Sunday visit with me. I normally have all the ferrets back to bed before he arrives. This is not a safety issue from me but from the “powers that be”.  Of all the ferrets in the house, these three, if given the chance might “gum” you to death! I follow the rules and the ferrets are locked up.

I needed to put the girls to bed because it was time for their duck soup and because my grandson is not used to watching where he walks (has not learnt the ferret shuffle). Of course also for the above stated reason.

Rosie and Mariko were curled up in the nest box behind the TV and I put them back in their cage. I couldn’t find Finni!  I knew that she hadn’t gotten out when Holden came in the front door, but, where the heck had she gotten to? Holden was told to play in his bedroom with the door closed while I looked.  I checked all the usual sleepy spots without any luck.  Then, I went by the front door to check the bed in the closet.  Holden’s boots lay where he had taken them off – in the way – right in front of the front door!  I bent down to move the boots to the boot rack and I little face peeked out. I ran for the camera but by the time I came back, she was almost out of the boot.

I called Holden to come see.  We both laughed and I grabbed the opportunity as a “teaching moment” . Now Holden understands even more why the furries have to be back in their cages because they can choose the silliest places to sleep and might get hurt!

Finni in Holden's boot

Finni in Holden’s boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden's boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden’s boot


It has been an emotional roller coaster with Scrappy! At the beginning of the week I was sure that I would have to let her go. Which ever position I put her in her hospital cage is where she stayed. She didn’t even move away from her bowel movement. She wouldn’t lift her head to look at me. I made the vet appointment for Thursday.

Until then, I continued with water therapy, stretching exercises and lots of cuddles. Her right shoulder remains dislocated. On Thursday morning, Scrappy would lift her head and her eyes would follow me.  She could support her head while eating her duck soup. During the stretching exercises it became very evident that the whole right side of the body was compromised. The dislocated shoulder and the nerve compression all the way down to her right back leg. She cannot  weight bear, but if you stroke the back of the leg she will move it forward.

Scrappy, 3 weeks after the accident

Scrappy, 3 weeks after the accident

My vet took the x-rays on Thursday. She didn’t have a broken back. Nerve compression does not show on an x-ray,however her toe curling indicated nerve damage. Dr. Singh is not one to give up and so we went to plan C.  We would do 6 deep tissue laser treatments. The MFA just couldn’t afford this but he kindly offered the treatments at 50% off.  This is still a $150.00 touch which is a big bite out of our limited finances. Dr. Singh also suggested that we try giving her 4 drops a day of the children’s B complex formula. The B complex is a nerve tonic and will help with the necessary healing of the nerves.  The gentleman at Sangsters didn’t bat an eye when I told him the B complex was for a ferret. Apparently years ago, his son owned a ferret! What a small world!

B complex to help with the nerve damage

B complex to help with the nerve damage

So 2 laser treatments a week, daily B complex drops, water therapy, stretching exercises, prayers galore and just maybe this sweetie will pull through.

Meanwhile, I have 4 or 5 Ferret Nation cages with the second version shelving just like what Scrappy hurt herself on. It’s not like I have empty cages to move the ferrets into until the new plastic pans for the Ferret Nation cages arrive.  I have been fretting like crazy. These cages were in use for several years before the injury and yet I am holding my breath praying no one else gets hurt before the shelves get here.

Now anyone who knows me well, knows that I can fix just about anything with 2 items. I am never without these items. Don’t laugh  once you find out because by god they have saved many a day! If DUCT TAPE won’t hold it together, then bring on the drill and ZIP TIES. I have zip ties in black, green and white!

I have zip tied a castor back onto the base of a cage turning a useless donated cage into one that I am still using. I have zip tied J food hoppers to the cage so that ferrets don’t knock them over. I have zip tied shelving to the cage bars to keep them in place. I even zip tied the catch trays for all the litter boxes.

So, duct tape won’t work on the shelf edges as too many of the ferrets will chew on the tape and give themselves a blockage. So…… on to zip ties. How can I make the shelf safer for now. Well I could see the gap where the plastic insert the the metal cross piece left enough room for a paw to get trapped under. Drill a few holes for the zip ties and voila, no more gap! At least any ferret wanting to jump off the shelf into a hammock won’t catch their paws. There is still a small gap from the edge of the plastic to the frame but I can’t close that gap and not sure a paw would fit in the space.

plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece and closing the gap

plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece and closing the gap



another view of the plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece to close the gaps

I am hoping the new shelving arrives at Pembina, North Dakota in the next 7 to 10 days. Then I just have to pray the weather cooperates so I can drive down and pick them up!

I hope by next Friday, the 16th, I will have even better news!

Update on Ferret Nation Shelving and Scrappy

First off I should mention that Scrappy is still eating and drinking but will not move around at all. The shoulder is still useless. Our vet told us it could take up to a month for the nerves to heal so I have my fingers crossed.  We may have to consider amputation if things don’t change. I am just so grateful this little girl hasn’t given up.

This is Scrappy before her injury

This is Scrappy before her injury

Now, about the shelf.  I want to say that the company has been very helpful.  From the information I gleaned on line, I assumed that the shelf and plastic insert was the shelf that I was reading about.  My shelf as posted is the company’s 2nd design in response to the injuries. They were very surprised and upset to hear that my ferret had injured herself with the 2nd designed shelf. So, all those injuries and deaths were NOT related to the shelf/plastic insert I posted. They immediately offered shelf covers at no cost. I know the covers are not expensive and I could have tried to make my own, but I have ferrets to care for and that is where my time and focus needs to be. The shelf covers will help and come in handy until we can purchase the more efficient(in my personal opinion) third design shelf pan.

Ferret Nation shelf with plastic insert- 2nd design

Ferret Nation shelf with plastic insert- 2nd design

Now, they have a 3rd design which is the plastic pan with a lip. This design came about because of concerns for food and litter spilling off the shelf.  Now I personally really like the idea of a plastic pan with a lip that fits over the shelf. Much easier to clean for someone with 5 Ferret Nation cages in the house. The soft shelf covers is a nice touch, but I have lots of bedding to wash every week as is and having to strip, wash and put the covers back on immediately is too labor intensive for a shelter long term. We were able to get a good price for the plastic pan with the lip, so we have ordered them. has them on sale right now.

3rd shelf design with a lip to catch crumbs and litter

3rd shelf design with a lip to catch crumbs and litter

So, I apologize for not having the full picture when I posted. I was so upset about my little girl and worrying about having to maybe put her down that I put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5! So in summary, if you have the pan with the plastic insert and it fits snugly to the edge of the frame, it is the second design not the original design.

3rd shelf design with a lip to catch crumbs and litter

3rd shelf design with a lip to catch crumbs and litter

So, I hope I have made things a little more clear. The second design should not have caused any issues and I hope Scrappy’s injury was a fluke.  Please keep her in your prayers. There are 2 short videos on U-Tube of ferrets with a shoulder amputation; running around playing so that keeps me hopeful!