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Mange is a skin disease that is caused by a microscopic mite. Several species of mange mites generally affect different species of animals. The most common type of mange in wildlife is sarcoptic mange, caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. In Wisconsin, this mite has been documented in red foxes, coyotes and wolves. Gray squirrels in Wisconsin have been documented with mange caused by the Notoedres sp. mite.


Transmission of the mite occurs between animals with close direct contact. Mites can survive in the environment and infested dens, burrows or nests can be a source of infection.


Wildlife infected with mange mites will have hair loss and may be observed spending increased time scratching at their skin. Frequently with sarcoptic mange, a secondary bacterial infection will develop and the skin will become crusty with scabs. Animals with severe infections become emaciated and weak.


In less severe cases, the wild animal’s immune system may be able to limit or eliminate the disease over time. Treating mange in wildlife can only be done legally by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator under controlled conditions to assure proper dosage and administration and adherence to all applicable state and federal laws governing the use of drugs in animals.


Sarcoptic mange mites can occasionally infect people. Clinical signs of mange in people include a localized, itchy red rash.