The FerretMobile DIY Ferret Wheelchair

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About: Inventor and tinkerer by nature.

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. 


Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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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    80 Discussions

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    Tina8a

    5 days ago

    Thank you so much for posting!! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! Our ferret just became paralyzed in his back legs and I can't wait to try making this for him

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    AnnetteO8

    2 years ago

    For ferrets

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    AnnetteO8

    2 years ago

    I need to find out if the guy from Texas still makes the flyer wheel chair. The web site phine number is out of service. Please help

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    XxMoonbeamzxX

    2 years ago

    LOVE this idea! Thank you! My 6 month old little girl Memphis just had an accident last evening leaving her with fractures in both front elbows and I will be creating a wheelchair similar to this to help in her recovery. I wasn't sure what materials to use but you helped so much with your idea that I'm sure I can come up with my own for our situation (most likely close to yours). A HUGE THANK YOU AND A HUG FOR POSTING THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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    NikkiS61

    2 years ago

    I love this cute little chair. My bearded dragon has a spinal injury, we were hoping with time and physical therapy, things would improve, but they haven't. So I'm hoping to make something for him to get around and chase the ladies again. That has always been his favorite past time.

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    rabbitgirl

    2 years ago

    Thanks for posting...super clear and helpful instructions. I'm working off your design to create a mobility cart for my rabbit. Awesome & inspiring post.

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    EmmaE14

    2 years ago

    Thank you so much or this tutorial, our ferret has lost the use of her legs due to disk disease. I will be making this for her :)

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    MicheleH21

    3 years ago

    Can someone please help me. I am desperately trying to get one of these made immediately for my little one because she can no longer move her back legs. I have run into a problem though, the pulleys have been discontinuted at lowes and Menards and I can not find them anywhere. Does anyone have any suggestions for another way to make one of tese quickly??

    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

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    rwood10

    3 years ago on Introduction

    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..

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    rprocto2

    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    2 replies
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    Gogonjdevilrprocto2

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    rprocto2Gogonjdevil

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    ldonley2

    5 years ago on Step 9

    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

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    pcsonka1

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!

    0
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    pcsonka1

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!

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    None
    Hork68

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!!!!

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    wolfysluv

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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

    1 reply

    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.