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!


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 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

replacement shelf from

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!

Molly update

Molly is my 6 year old surrender who has very much bonded with me.  Two recent changes in his place at the shelter sent him into a tail spin. I not only changed his cage, I also moved him out of the shelter room.  His reaction was a complete depression – he stopped eating!

I moved him into his familiar cage and moved the cage beside my bed; adding my used nightgown to his hammock so he knew his new Mommy was still with him.

Molly's cage

Molly’s cage

I then started him on duck soup as he was rapidly loosing weight!  Molly had not eaten for 48 hours and it showed!  Molly had never had duck soup and oh boy oh boy, what a fight I had with him.  The first few feedings saw me covered in the stuff as he gagged, shook his head, wiped himself all over my face and hair and fought me tooth and nail.  I had to resort to syringe feeding him and he thanked me by peeing on me! Molly slowly accepted the duck soup. We graduated from syringe, to finger to baby spoon and last night when I offered him the dish of duck soup he stuck him tongue in and went to town!  My little man had come around.

The weight loss is gone, the diarrhea is gone and he is once again doing his walkabouts!  Yes he is still beside my bed!  I can’t help it; I have to spoil him a little.

Molly loves his Mom

Molly loves his Mom

Making your ferret a home

Ferrets do need daily playtime outside of their cages, but they usually still spend a fair amount of time in their cage. A large, well designed cage is a necessity.

Some features to look for are; solid floors and shelves (wire mesh is hard on the feet, although you can cover with a towel), balconies, and ideally solid ladders. Multi-level cages are nice, but depending on the arrangement of the levels, falls are possible. Get extra shelves or use hammocks to make cages safer as needed.

You should purchase and set up your ferret’s cage prior to bringing them home, the cage will serve as “home base” for your new pet and should be ready and waiting upon his arrival. Below are some pointers for setting up your pet’s new domain.

Comfort Counts – There are many options out there in terms of the type of material from which your cage will be built. Metal, plastic, and various forms of wire or mesh are a few that come to mind (wood is not recommended).

**Manitoba Ferret Association has used cages for sale**

In choosing the best type of cage for your ferret, consider how easy it will be to clean. Will urine and food odors seep into the material and be impossible to scrub away? Does the cage offer easy dismantling or removal and replacing of each level so that you can clean all the nooks and crannies?

Ferrets aren’t known for their neatness, and will make messes in places you have only imagined.

If you choose a wire or mesh cage, be sure to provide adequate bedding, old blankets, towels and clothing work fine. The goal is to make sure that the pads of your ferret’s feet are not injured or sore as a result of walking around on wires or mesh all the time. Wire or mesh-type cages do have the advantage of allowing you to purchase the types of litter boxes and food dishes that can be hooked to the side of the cage, making it harder for your ferret to overturn them.

Arrange your ferret’s cage so that each “function” has a designated place. Setting up a safe and comfortable home for your new companion will help him feel right at home. You wouldn’t want to live in an unclean house, and neither does your ferret! A clean cage is essential to your ferret’s overall well-being.

Accessorize – Equip your ferret’s cage with the following:

1. Litter pan, or pans, depending upon the number of ferrets in the cage and how stubborn your pet is regarding “potty training.”

2. Dish that holds a good amount of food and is difficult for your ferret to overturn. Heavy dishes or those that can somehow be hooked to the side of the cage work best.

3. Large bottle or second dish that holds plenty of fresh water, keep the water near the food.

4. Area designed especially for sleeping, with either extra bedding or a hammock or two. Ferrets love to curl up in hammocks to sleep, but will also enjoy comfy hideaways such as the leg of an old pair of your sweatpants.

5. Do not keep toys in the cage. Your ferret may chew the toy & cause itself a life threatening blockage

Part of responsible ferret ownership is cleaning your ferret’s cage regularly. This includes scooping litter, wiping down the cage, washing bedding, and other daily or weekly tasks. Because your ferret’s cage is a relatively small living area, it’s very important to make sure that any mess is cleaned up promptly.