Mange is a skin disease caused by the parasite Sarcoptes Scabei. The female mite (similar to scabies in humans) burrows deep into the skin and as she burrows she lays eggs. 3-4 eggs per day increases exponentially until the wombat succumbs under the immense mite load.
Sarcoptic mange has been present in Australia for approximately 200 years, brought here by settlers and their animals. It has slowly spread to our wildlife and in recent decades has exponentially increased and affected wombats in particular.
Symptoms are striations on the sides, hairloss, crusting of the skin into thick plaques, crusting of eyes and ears leading to deaf- and blindness (temporary), constant itching, sleeplessness, inability to absorb nutrients, inability to defend itself, significant weight loss, flyblown, organ failure and ultimate death.
Why is it so important to treat it?
Mange poses significant animal welfare and wider conservation concerns. The effects of mange is significant in causing suffering and will lead to the wombat’s death if not treated.
It is however very very treatable. Once properly treated the wombat should fully recover.
The challenge is that the wombat burrow is most likely still infected with mites as they can survive without a host in a burrow (perfect temperature and humidity) for up to 3 weeks.
Mange is spreading slowly but consistently and has affected an estimated 70% of wild Bare-Nosed wombat populations.
Treatment method 1: Burrow Flap
Made from a wireframe, ice cream lid and vegemite jar lid, this device is easily installed in front of an active burrow with medicine placed in the small lid.
Once the wombat enters or exits their burrow, the medicine will dispense onto their back.
This method is used when you are not able to apply medicine directly onto the wombat due to them being nocturnal, too flighty or during population size treatment programs. It has an approximate 65% success rate (spillage due to wombat playing or avoiding flap)
Treatment method 2: Pole and scoop
Direct application of medicine by using an extendable broom or painting pole with a steel cup fixed to the end.
This method requires stealth and silence to sneak up on the wombat but has a higher success rate than burrow flaps.
It is however more more challenging to approach a wild wombat as they may bolt and run and in most cases this is only possible when the wombat is quite unwell. Once they feel better it will be harder to use this method.
Cydectin (active ingredient Moxidectin)
- Effective dosage to treat mange is 20ml
- Cheaper option
- Off-label permit allows treaters to use any medicine with this active ingredient
- Used primarily in burrow-flaps
- Requires at least 15 successful doses on the wombat
- Doses are administered weekly
- Time intensive
Bravecto (active ingredient Fluralaner)
- Effective dosage is based on weight (similar to dosage instructions for dogs)
- Expensive option
- Not available as off-label usage so administer under vet supervision
- Used primarily with pole and scoop
- Depending on severity of mange, can require up to 2 or sometimes 3 doses in extreme cases
- Doses are administered monthly
- Cost intensive
How to identify mange vs bitemarks
Sometimes what is seen as mange, could be bitemark.
Mange is usually first seen on the wombat’s sides, feet and belly. Gill like vertical lines (striations) where hair loss started in the skinfolds on their sides.
Bitemarks are usually on the rump, bum and head.
How to install a burrow-flap
How to use a pole and scoop
How can you help?
Everything we do, every service we provide, every wombat we treat, every kilometre we travel is volunteer based.
We are entirely dependent on volunteers and donations to be able to continue this work.
- You can help us financially by donating
- You can become involved in rescue, mange treatment or advocacy
- You can talk about wombats, facts, challenges and the future for them with your friends, children, politicians to help increase awareness