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What is Sarcoptic Mange?

Sarcoptic mange (also referred to as 'mange'), caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei is infesting wombats throughout Australia. The mites burrow into the skin of the wombats, causing the wombats to initially become itchy. Early physical signs of the infestation are observed as missing patches of fur and scratching. As the infestation progresses, more and more fur is lost and the skin becomes thickened, cracked, sore and infected.
Wombats that are severely affected by mange will often have thickened skin around the eyes and ears and over their entire body. When wombats get to this stage they are often observed during the day. It is likely these wombats require additional nutrition due to increased time spent scratching to relieve the itchiness caused by the mite burrowing into their skin, rather than foraging and other factors related to the infestation itself.

Mild case of Sarcoptic mange

Severe case of Sarcoptic mange

Mange infests over 150 mammalian species, such as the introduced European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) as well as domestic, feral and wild dogs. It was commonly believed that foxes may help in the transmission of sarcoptic mange mites to wombats, as they are known to utilise wombat burrows as den sites. However, there is no clear evidence to confirm or challenge this theory, and there are no foxes in Tasmania, despite mange being prevalent in the wombat population. It is however not unlikely that mange can be transferred between species and individuals.

Nevertheless, if you do see a fox, particularly entering or exiting wombat burrows, record this information in WomSAT, because foxes are also a significant predator of native wildlife, and can carry and transmit diseases and parasites, if you see a fox, record its location in FoxScan. Mapping fox sightings will help reduce fox numbers and the impacts they cause to wombats, other native animals, and farming enterprises.

Click here to record sightings of foxes in FoxScan

Source D Panther