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Picture of The FerretMobile DIY Ferret Wheelchair
After a recent illness limited the use of one of our ferret's hind legs, I decided it wasn't fair for him to have to lay around while the other ferrets got out to play. He wasn't able to get around and enjoy himself.

I decided to buy him a mobility aid, but after the sticker shock wore off (least I found was over US$300) I decided to make one. There wasn't much available online as far as DIY, but plenty of pictures of commercial models. I decided to make one myself, and this is the result, for around $30 in materials

Dedicated to Merlin, He went back home and got his wings back, 8/10/2009
He was one of those DMK ferrets rescued from a horrid breeder, and we gave him the best life we could for his entire stay with us.  We miss you bud. 


 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Here is my bill of materials, approximate cost, and where I bought them. Store choices were based on convenience, and there are very likely better choices to be had. Just be sure you get the lightest weight stuff you can find that will serve the purpose.

$3 - 2 Clothes Line Wheels (Lowe's, Hardware, near nuts and bolts)
$5 - 3 foot perforated angle metal bar (Lowe's, Hardware, near nuts and bolts)
$6 - 500 Piece Plastic Wire Ties, aka Zip-Ties (WalMart, Automotive) - Won't use them all)
$3 - 6 piece wooden craft boards (WalMart, Craft Section)
$1 - Bandanna (WalMart, near purses and such)
$2 - Hook & Loop Tape, aka Velcro (WalMart, hardware)
$7 - Pair of Shin guards, soccer player type (WalMart, Sporting Goods)

(Lots of other stuff in the picture that I ended up not using. Your design may vary). If you look online, you may see why some of the extra stuff was bought but not used.

When shopping, keep in mind how long your animal's body is. You want a "cradle" that will support their body in a way fitting the injury. Sometimes you may want to support them by the legs or hips by means of a harness setup.

In our case, we needed to support Merlin's torso, because of an irritation with his legs that made us want to minimize contact there. If you need to support them by the legs or hips, you may want to use a different cradling method.

We chose the smallest shin guards we could find. You may want different materials depending on your particular needs. Be creative.

Step 2: Tools Needed

Hacksaw
File
Knife (Pocket knife, Utility Knife, or Precision (X-acto type), preference in that order)
Clippers, wire cutters, diagonal cutters, something along those lines for cutting zip-ties
Creative Mind (Very Important!!! Be sure it's not contaminated with toxic chemicals first)

Step 3: Cut your Frame Rails

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I cut 2 matching pieces of the perforated angle bar to roughly the same length as the shin guard (Cradle), and filed the corners and edges to ensure smooth edges without dangerous burrs.

This

Step 4: Attach Wheels

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The next few steps are very subjective. This means you will have to tailor it to your own situation.
For me:
Attach the wheels to the frame rails by threading zip-ties through the frame surrounding the wheel and the holes in the frame rails.

It would be better to use one set of holes narrower than I show here. This will give you some adjustment to the balance point. I ended up going back and doing this on the final version.

Step 5: Make Floorboard

Picture of Make Floorboard
Take the craft boards, and cut one so that it is a bit shorter than the distance between the zip ties at each end of your wheel frames. Line it up between the rails and mark spots to drill holes in the board.

Use zip-ties through these holes to fasten it to the bottom of the frame rails on front and back of both sides. This is the basic cart. It should sit level, if not, adjust the wheels for a good balance.

Step 6: Attach Cradle

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Attach the cradle to the frame rails by putting zip-ties through the ventilation holes in the harder shell section of the shin guards and then through the frame rails so that it was held securely. Be patient, it's tedious and frustrating, but your friend being able to get around is worth it.

Step 7: Add the straps and padding

Picture of Add the straps and padding
We were able to use the strap that is part of the shin guard for one of the ones we needed.
I attached 2 strips of the "rough" part of the Velcro to each side of the "head" end of the cradle. You may need to do this differently depending on your animal.
I used one fairly short strip of the "soft" part of the Velcro to go over Merlin, just behind his front shoulders.

This helps him stay in the cradle. Be sure not to get it too tight. You may have to add a "chest strap" or even find a way to use a store-bought harness instead.

We used a bandanna to line the bottom of the cradle due to the nature of our ferrets problem. You may not need this, or may want to line and pad it differently.

Step 8: Bring in the patient, Strap him in, and Turn him loose

Picture of Bring in the patient, Strap him in, and Turn him loose
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This is Merlin. This is Merlin with his new wheels (and his curious friend, Autumn)

The video is some of Merlin's first few steps. He's taken quite nicely to it, although he's still pretty weak, so he doesn't stay out for long. He still tries to use his hind legs, so we left them unsupported. If your animal is paralyzed or there is some other reason, you may want to cut the frame rails longer to give a place to support the legs, or even add extra casters (turn able wheels) up front or behind to support the extra weight.

Now he can get out and play with the rest of the family.

Step 9: Video


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I'm not that building savvy but if someone would build one of these for my baby ferret I would pay them as my little girl is only 9 weeks old and has a broken spine from getting pushed out of the cage by its mum

rwood106 months ago

That is totally ingenious, a clothes line wheel amazing... I need a dog one I would like to use some of your ideas.... Well done..

rprocto21 year ago
I was about to make a updated version of this for our Friar Tuck, unfortunately we lost him this morning. The changes I was doing was riveting the board to a solid piece of aluminum and using 1" caster wheels from Home Depot. I am going to keep the supplies in case I need to make it for one of our other dear ferrets. Thank you for posting this so that people can make something like this. I am sorry I couldn't post our upgraded FerretMobile. Please feel free to contact me if you want to know what all the planned upgrades I had.
I would love to know the upgrades you were going to make. One of our ferrets just had to have his leg amputated due to cancer and we're hope this will help train him how to use his now 1 back leg to get around.

I will be doing this project this weekend since you need it. I wish I could do it sooner. I will also be posting pics etc of the making of it.

ldonley22 years ago
Aw this is my project for my Captain if i need one for my other misfits bless and Hugs i think i can accomplish something he can still walk but this might give him more support
pcsonka12 years ago
A huge THANK YOU for posting this.
My oldest ferret was having issues last night with hind leg weakness. Both my husband and I knew that it would be the last "hurrah" for those little legs. We were right. Woke up this morning to check on him and he was without mobility.
I had tried years ago to build a "cart" of sorts, but it never worked right... slippery little ferret always got out.
I went online searching and I saw your instructions for this wheelchair. I knew right away that I could do that! Off to the stores I went. Tonight we assembled our own Ferret wheelchair and got Finn moving again. He really doesn't realize that he can no longer fit under the table and such anymore. I am hoping with a few more attempts he might get the idea. Huge hugs to you for sharing your wonderful idea!!!
pcsonka12 years ago
A huge THANK YOU for posting this.
My oldest ferret was having issues last night with hind leg weakness. Both my husband and I knew that it would be the last "hurrah" for those little legs. We were right. Woke up this morning to check on him and he was without mobility.
I had tried years ago to build a "cart" of sorts, but it never worked right... slippery little ferret always got out.
I went online searching and I saw your instructions for this wheelchair. I knew right away that I could do that! Off to the stores I went. Tonight we assembled our own Ferret wheelchair and got Finn moving again. He really doesn't fact that he can no longer fit under the table and such anymore. I am hoping with a few more attempts he might get the idea. Huge hugs to you for sharing your wonderful idea!!!
Hork683 years ago
I just wanted to say thank you for posting this!!! I was able to build one with a few modifications to fit our ferret Butch =) He is wheeling himself all over the place. I was so happy to find the wheels at Lowes, right where you said they would be. My previous attempts...three...different assistive devices worked but not this well. I know he won't be with us much longer but at least he has his mobility back =) Thank you again!!!!!!
wolfysluv3 years ago
My name is Rebecca Stout (Wolfy). I am desperately trying to contact this author/inventor. If anyone here knows how I could contact them outside of sending a PM or posting a comment, could you contact me? This is in regards an attempt to get this information out to the ferret community at large (in addtion to links to this site) and to people who are in great need of this.
Wolfy
Wolfysluv@aol.com
odiekokee (author)  wolfysluv3 years ago
I'm still here and active :) sent email to you.
I can't thank you enough, not only for this ingenious and affordable invention but for publishing it here. One of my kids lost the strength in his hind legs last week but from the waist up he's full of so much life. Someone on my facebook page offered to make him the wheelchair and we should be getting it in a couple days. Mr. Darcy came in bald and boney from adrenal disease and I'm working to get his bladder problems under control, he developed an infection over the weekend. I know he will perk up when he finally gets his wheels. My attempts with a flat bed toy truck failed miserably.. Thank you again so much!!! Kim and Mr. Darcy from Somethin Up My Sleeve Ferret Rescue.
Clothesline reels, shin guards, and a bandana? Brilliant use of materials. Nicely done.
agis684 years ago
this is amazing. Since I remember my self I had animals next to me: Horse, cats (many of them) dogs, ducks etc. Two years ago I lost one of my cats, my favorite one and so called son since me and my wife we don't have kids. I did everything to keep in life this 10 years old cat. He suffered by strokes and lately his heart became weak... One day 12 day before his loss his small heart stopped. I was always next to him and I give some respiratory help mouth by mouth to help him and he recovered. But just for 12 days!. I will never forget his eyes. Sometimes even now Iam crying for him and always I praying for him and for all my pet friends.
This kind of instructables shown us from what material we been made of: HUMAN big word. This is the right position of human been to help the weak life forms.

thanks dude for all beautiful and kind that remind us this instructable...far more than 5/5...
odiekokee (author) 5 years ago
10Aug2009 Update - Pray for Merlin, he took a pretty hard turn for the worse this morning, and we're beginning to prepare for the worst. Will see the vet at opening time tomorrow morning, if he hasn't left us to get his wings back before then.
odiekokee (author)  odiekokee5 years ago
He made a full and miraculous recovery, just not in the way most folks want it. Who needs a wheelchair when you get your wings back? Merlin went home 6:30 this afternoon. He's not sick at all anymore. Thank God. Amen.
sniffle, wipe, dang it, I got something in my eye ......
RIP Merlin and btw, great Instructable
Sorry to hear that Merlin passed. This instructable is very touching. I'm glad to know that you made it a little better for him before his passing. Like you said though he's not sick anymore. Keep up the good ideas.
 Awesome Ferret parent! 
Got four myself. 
 Thank you. We're at 11 at the moment, 3 are actually foster-kids from Raisins Haven rescue shelter, but we'll probably be their forever home soon.  They are so very much overloaded up there. 
 My first Sara was a rescue. I knew her owner and kept telling him he wasn't taking care of her and to just give her to us; eventually he agreed. Our second my husband bought for my birthday Nibble . Rastus' owner was looking for a new home cause his daughter wasn't taking care of him. Sara passed away I still miss her. Now we've taken in two more ( Spaz and Mitzy) that belonged to my sister. She says we're the foster parents but They aren't going back either. I don't know how you keep up with 11. Crazy little things.
 
dhuddleston5 years ago
i think your idea for the ferret wheelchair is fabulous. i have a paralized iguana and will try to use your idea for him. any other ideas my email is stubspot@centurylink.net.
adrenalynn5 years ago
The Instructable:
This is one of those times when I wish there was a super-secret "Six Star Rating" button...

This so exemplifies the DIY spirit - and it's so nice to see smart people doing smart things once in awhile.

The Content:
My sincerest condolences for your loss.  A very tearful instructable intro - well written.

Congradulations on using such little money in making something that is invaluable to your pet. It is rather rediculous that such a simple device costs so much. It is actually unfair. You have liberated our minds from the mindset that it is expensive to take care of a disabled pet. It all depends on who has resources to materials, and an imagination to match.

This is a great accomplishment. 5 Stars.
nehmah5 years ago
Your determination to help Merlin get moving illustrates the value of this entire site. Keep well and stay safe for Autumn. Cordially, Nehmah
odiekokee (author)  nehmah5 years ago
Thank you :) We've actually got 4, Autumn, Summer, Peenut, and Sugar. We're considering adopting a couple others from a friend who works a lot and doesn't get enough time with them.
Starrlily5 years ago
I cant believe I found your DIY. I have a 9 yr old little girl named Miss Podo who has adrenal gland disease and insulinoma, and she has terrible issues with her hind legs. I searched high and low for a wheelchair for her, and like you, found nothing, and what I did find was so expensive. Thanks so much for this DIY.
yogipaolo5 years ago
This invention made me a bit misty about the eyeball section of my head. My condolences on Merlin. I'm glad you made him happy while he was here.
chaitanyak5 years ago
this is a beautiful instructable!
tmr5 years ago
I love it! That's such a cool invention. You should get a patent.
odiekokee (author)  tmr5 years ago
Nahh, there's nothing there patentable. I'm not doing it to make a business or a profit. I am doing it to help animals and their people have happier lives.
tmr odiekokee5 years ago
Thats great. I still love it!!
domiflichi5 years ago
Incredible Instructable. I don't generally comment on Instructables, but your Instructable was very moving. Merlin was very lucky to have you. Great work.
monaloka5 years ago
omg! great instructable, but it made me cry! Merlin, i'm glad you're ok now...
Nice Instructable. RIP Merlin.
jkcdvm5 years ago
Great instructable! I'm a practicing veterinarian and can attest to the need for a DIY project like this for animals of all sizes. The carts available for dogs and cats are also very costly---Maybe when that animal-loving heart of yours has mended, you could produce a similar instructable for an affordable dog/cat "Merlin-Mobile". A lot of folks would appreciate it more than you can imagine. God Bless---Dr JKC
odiekokee (author)  jkcdvm5 years ago
This is here for the purpose of making it easy for animals to get help from their people without having to spend a lot of money. The only way I'd do it is to be in a 'break even" situation. Cost of materials, shipping, and like, $5 in labour. That I could consider, as long as I don't get flooded. The trouble with that is the individual situations and fittings. The one I made for merlin wouldn't fit him if he was his healthy weight, it's too small, and wouldn't fit any of our girls, it'd be too big. It's such a fine tuning situation that would be difficult either to pre-fabricate or to leave in a flexible ready and easy to finish state when shipping to an owner. But, you do have a good idea. Thank you.
A Dachsund wheelchair was actually posted three and a half years ago.
odiekokee (author)  CameronSS5 years ago
yeah, for dogs and cats, since they're more solid bodied, the kind like Cameron mentions are better, if the animal can handle it based on their particular condition. It supports the back end weight by the legs/hips, as the animal was designed for, and cantilevers the rest of the load to the front shoulders via the harness and frame. The kinda I have here is really only suitable for animals that are so limber, like ferrets, or that can't handle the weight on their hips. It supports them somewhat unnaturally across their torso. Less desireable but sometimes necessary. Like I said, it's a creative process, where you fit the basic concept to the details of your situation. Like someone else said, for an animal with no use of their hind feet, supporting them is very important, and the method depends on the situation also.
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