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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wombats suffer with Mange

Warning: This is a post about an unpleasant subject - a Wombat with severe Sarcoptic Mange.

It is published in the interests of public information. Difficult issues are discussed, and unpleasant images shown. If you are sensitive - kindly do not proceed to read any further. I will welcome you back tomorrow.

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Shortly after I moved to Robertson I saw a Wombat out and about in daylight. It was near a road (itself a dangerous thing for all concerned). On closer examination, it was obviously nearly bald. I made some inquiries and was told two things - Wombats get Mange (supposedly from Foxes); and that the mange causes them to get ill, go blind and eventually die.

Today there was a Wombat wandering around on my neighbour's property, in the late afternoon. It was feeding actively, but its behaviour was sufficiently unusual it had not only attracted my attention, but that of another neighbour, Matt. We both grabbed our cameras, and we walked out to look at it.We ended up standing right beside the poor animal, which was obviously severely infested with the mites which cause "Sarcoptic Mange". You can see the sunken eyes, and the very heavily crusted nose.
If you Google "Wombat + Mange" you will get a number of links. Some will tell you that mange in Wombats is treatable, but in reality, that advice is probably only applicable to people able to care more-or-less full time for wombats. Many Wombats are raised by licensed Carers (with WIRES and other such animal rescue organisations).

After I returned home, I found that Matt had quickly sent me another (more realistic) viewpoint - from this site:
"Wombats that I won't treat -
1. Any adult wombat that is in the last stages of mange i.e. has huge crusts on most of its body and head, crusting over its eyes and ears, open wounds often fly-blown and the wombat is thin and often with nasal discharge. The animal will be seen grazing during the day probably to get warm in the sun, or is nearly blind so can't see the danger. It will be relatively easy to catch. This wombat is very ill and if left will die in a few weeks from starvation and pneumonia. If treated the wombat will be subjected to long and cruel handling and will probably not survive anyway. If he does he will most certainly get the mange again in 3-6 months. The immune system is completely failing and I feel it is irresponsible to put an animal through so much pain and fear for it not to be successful and have a good outlook for a full recovery."

Clearly there are different "protocols" recommended by different experts.I left this Wombat to its own resources - for as far as I was concerned it was untreatable - but it was still feeding actively. However, for the record, I report that it was pretty obviously blind, or very nearly so (and pretty obviously nearly deaf too). The ears were totally "clumped" and the eyes were not only white (as if with cataracts), but also weeping with puss. Its skin was very badly caked on one of its flanks, and its nose was thickly crusted with scabs. I can also say that it really stank, (up close).A few minutes after I left the Wombat, I heard a shot ring out from up the road. I can only assume that one of the other locals (a farmer, no doubt) had assessed the situation was hopeless, and had put the Wombat down. I can say that I do not know exactly who did what, (I know it was certainly not Matt) but I know why the obvious action would have been taken - as a compassionate act - by a person unknown to me.

Such is life.

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One of the websites I looked at tonight (Sorry, I cannot find the comment again) addressed the issue well - by expressing the following conundrum:

It is illegal to kill a wombat (even a sick one),
but if a farmer or a pet-owner left a domestic animal
or a farm animal alive - in such a condition,
that person could be prosecuted for cruelty to an animal.

17 comments:

mick said...

Very sad. I don't like to see anything suffer.

Tyto Tony said...

It can be emotionally fraught and financialy risky trying to do the 'right thing' for and by sick and injured wildlife. But all things being equal (though they never are!) most of us know that little voice inside the head will tell us what needs and needed to be done.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
I had no prospect of getting physically or financially involved. Handling a Wombat is not recommended by the locals, especially not one sop far gone as this poor guy. Mind you, they do get a lot worse.
But some of those websites are a bit fanatical I think. Imagine rigging a swinging jar of Ivomectin or other insecticidal treatments in the burrow entrance, so the Wombat gets a dose each time it enters or leaves its burrow. Or netting them and hand treating them. You've got to be kidding.
Besides, he was so stinky. Obviously secondary infection or fly strikes or something.
I was greatly relieved that someone had a "solution" - even if not the politically correct one.
Thanks for your common sense assessment of the situation.
I was a bit nervous about posting that message, but I believe it to be important.
Cheers
Denis

Denis

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick

I agree.
The fact that I felt it necessary to label the eye and ears on the animals shows how badly advanced the mange was. Poor thing.
Glad you were able to look at the post, though Mick.
Thanks
Denis

Gouldiae said...

Good one Denis.
I'm glad to see that common sense prevailed, even if by someone unknown. In that condition, the poor animal would be easy prey for dogs or perhaps foxes, and its demise would have been far more cruel.
Regards,
Gouldiae

Denis Wilson said...

Good Point, Gouldiae - one that I had not even considered.
.
You obviously have a country person's perspective on this.
.
The people on whose property the animal was have several "pig dogs", so that would have been a very real possibility.
Doesn't bear thinking about.
.
Thanks for the comment.
Denis

tilcheff said...

Thanks for this post, Denis!
I learned something new -- never really thought how badly mange can damage and eventually kill its host. I've dealt with mange in dogs, with good outcome, but never when it was so advanced.
And, I think, I should agree that an instant death was the better option.
Best regards
Nickolay

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Nickolay.
Thanks.
I saw another Wombat tonight (not in the daytime) just near where the other one was.
I was keen to see it closely, so I stopped and it walked across the road in front of my headlights, and it appeared clean.
I was relieved.
Denis

Anonymous said...

G'day
I appreciate that alot of people would find treating wombats with mange a daunting task however it is possible & great success has been achieved by a suspended dispenser of Cydectin above the burrow, it is important that people understand that some terrific communites have come together in order to try & slow the rate of Sarcoptis in wombats by holding information & awarness days in which the communities have come together to form treatment procedures with great success, it would be great if you could post some of those stories too as the community plays an important part in preserving these creatures, we are currently trying to organise one of thses information days for another selected area it may be a good thing if you go have a look, you will find some great people there :)
Cheers
Klarry

Anonymous said...

Hi
Just to let you know that treatment of mange with Cydectin in suspended dispensers does work, there are a great many people out there willing to give these little batlers a go & are working to slow the halt of this terrible infliction, its alot of work but to me it is worth it :)
Cheers
Klarry

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Klarry.
I take your word for it that the treatment regime you outline does work.
.
In this case, the matter was out of my hands, anyway.
.
Its good to know that some people are as dedicated as you obviously are.
.
All power to you.
.
Thanks for commenting on my post.
.
Denis

jeanie said...

Great work on the post on wombats with sarcoptic mite and your photos. Its a terrible thing to see.

You can contact the wombat protection society for advice and a free treatment kit. I did and the wombats that I have treated ( with cydectin in a scoop on the end of a long pole) healed up well!
Some might think it's too much effort but that one wombat probably would disagree ! The itch alone must be excruciating!

You can also contact them just to report that you have seen sarcoptic mite or mange in your area and it will go on a google map tracking the spread of the mite.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Jeanie for your comment.
I am sure it must be satisfying to be able to treat a wild animal for such a terrible condition.
Denis

jeanie said...

Also wanted to add that I'm not saying cydectin would have helped this case. It's a difficult decision to put down an animal and one I hate to do because I'm a big sook!! I would leave that for someone more qualified to assess.

Treatment programs would be most effective to prevent mange getting this far and would probably help stop the spread to other wild and domestic animals on the same land.

Thanks to your blog a few more people know about the situation!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Jeanie
I am happy to discuss this issue and treatment options. I agree that this particular Wombat was probably too far gone, for successful treatment.
But it is good to know, that Cydectin can be a treatment option.
.
As it was a local farmer took the issue into his own hands.
I had no role in his decision.
Cheers
Denis

cedar creek wombat rescue said...

wombats can be treated ,.you could not leave these poor animals like that its cruel and you can not shoot a wombat with out npw permission
there is alot that can be done for these animal and all treatment work

Denis Wilson said...

Dear Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue
You might well be able to treat Wombats with mange. I cannot.
.
I wish you well with your campaign, but, please take the time to read the full story, and all the comments.
.
As it was a local farmer took the issue into his own hands.
I had no role in his decision.
.
Regards
Denis Wilson