This week I noticed a fox in my garden who has a bad case of mange.. The foxes entire back was devoid of hair and beginning to bleed.. The poor thing was in a very bad state.
The fox had come to eat the left over chicken carcass we sometimes put out for the locals and was crunching the bones so loudly outside my window I managed to get a good look and take some pictures and videos..
What is mange?
To give it it's proper name; Sarcoptic mange, is a form of scabies.. A mite which lays eggs under the skin of an animal, which creates uncontrollable itching, which then leads to hair loss, skin irritation, open wounds and in serious cases can lead to full organ failure. It is also highly contagious.
As listed, hair loss, sore skin, bleeding, sometimes foxes will bite their own tails off to try to get rid of the itching, and you may find them seeking warmth as their body temperature struggles with the lack of hair.
The Fox Project's website states: Mange treatment given to captive foxes is usually successful, involving doses of Stronghold 5 -10kg (or generic ‘spot-on’) or two injections of Ivomec or Panomec (.125ml) given over a two week period. Both treatments are best applied in conjunction with a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Baytril, Synulox or Noroclav to combat skin infection.
So how can I (or you) help a mangey fox in my (or your) garden!?
I looked online to see if I could buy some Stronghold spot-on or any other oral medication to treat mange so I could attempt to treat the fox from my garden when it comes to feed.
This is immediately an issue, as none of these medications are available without a prescription. Understandable, as you don't want untrained people dishing out potentially harmful medication where domestic animals might eat it..
So I rang my vets to ask what the chances were of getting a prescription for this fox, none they said, and more worryingly, they said they didn't know how to treat mange, which is fairly common among canines!
Feeling glad I didn't have to take a dog to that vets I trolled the internet for fox and wildlife rehabilitation organisations and came across The National Fox Welfare Society, where I was able to order free of charge (they do ask you donate if you are able to), a remedy made up of Arsenicum Alb. & Sulphur 30c that they can post out for you to treat foxes in your garden.
They recommend feeding the oral medication in honey or jam sandwiches, as cats don't like this and wont eat it.. If you're feeding the fox in your own closed garden other dogs shouldn't be able to access it. They do stress that this isn't a 'normal' diet, its effective at getting the medication into the fox over the course of the treatment, and is by no means recommended as a permanent or total diet plan, but a supplementary feed.
While I would normally be sceptical of 'home remedies', and there are several wildlife hospitals who advise against this, it is the best and only real option for most people, as I do not live near enough to an animal hospital for them to come out, and the remedy is made up of some of the same elements in traditional medicine available to those at animal hospitals.
The risk in treating a wild animal is always that they will recover enough to stop coming to feed before finishing a course of treatment, meaning they will only relapse.
Unfortunately this is a risk I'll have to take this time.
I'll let you know how I get on, as I'll be setting the camera trap out with the jam sandwiches!
Do you have a wildlife story to share on the blog? We'd love to hear from you!
A few things to bare in mind before you decide to help wildlife.. most things do better when left alone, consider whether its going to end up living in a cage for the rest of its life.. and mammal parents do leave young unattended to return later. They cannot always recognise their own young if you have added your scent to their young by touching it. The best thing you can normally do for wildlife in trouble is make sure they are out of immediate danger (eg. provide a secure barrier against domestic animal attacks) and leave them to it, observing while you assess the situation. 9 times out of 10, your'll have done what's needed just by giving it the time it needs to sort itself out :)