Wombat Mange, also known as sarcoptic mange, is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei.
The mite burrows into the skin causing characteristic signs of thick crusty skin and hair loss.
There is good evidence that the parasite was introduced to Australia by Europeans and their domestic animals.
Mange can affect lots of mammals but the common wombat is one of the most affected species. It is thought that mange is spread through infected wombats sharing burrows.
Where does wombat mange occur?
Wombat populations throughout south-eastern Australia are affected by mange.
The disease generally occurs at low prevalence, but more extreme outbreaks can occur within populations. It is not known why these outbreaks occur but they appear to be associated with times of nutritional stress and/or overcrowding.
Cool, humid conditions, which can be found in wombat burrows, support the extended survival of mites away from their hosts.
Effects of wombat mange
Mange infection in a wombat may result in skin irritation and itchiness leading to aggressive scratching, hair loss, skin lesions, loss of body condition and, in most cases, death.
Mange can occasionally have a significant effect on local populations of wombats. For example, between 2010 and 2016, the common wombat population in Narawntapu National Park in northern Tasmania was reduced by 94% as a result of mange outbreak.
Although mange has been reported from other parts of Tasmania, statewide monitoring of wombats by DPIPWE show that counts of wombats have increased between 1985 and 2015 and have remained stable between 2010 and 2016.
Can Wombat Mange be Eradicated?
There is no method to eradicate mange from the wild. Individual wombats and other animals can be treated for mange. While this may be relatively straightforward for tame or captive animals, it is more challenging to treat animals in the wild, especially for wombats which are typically nocturnal, live underground and are not well-suited to captivity. This is because effective treatment of mange in wombats requires regular doses of moxidectin (Cydectin) over four months.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)
We will have a list of frequently asked questions available soon.
We will have an information sheet available soon.
Strategies to mitigate effects
DPIPWE is working with the University of Tasmania and the local community to better understand the causes that lead to mange outbreaks, and to develop better treatment of mange-infected wombats in the wild.
Specific actions that have been undertaken by DPIPWE relating to wombat status include:
- Analysis of state-wide and regional wombat population trends using the past 30 years of spotlight survey data;
- Several research projects conducted by UTAS under permits provided by DPIPWE;
- The Orphaned and Injured Wildlife Program continues to assist the public by providing advice on managing treatment of affected wombats;
- Working with the community to ensure that treatments are properly dispensed and documented to assess effectiveness;
- Allocation of funds for distribution to community groups and individuals involved in the treatment of mange-infected wombats;
- Allocation of funds for the University of Tasmania and volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia; and
- Mange Treatment Protocols have been developed.
- Mange Treatment Protocols (409Kb)
Community Support for Treating Wombats
To secure the recovery of Tasmania’s wombat population from the impacts of mange, the Tasmanian Government has committed $100,000 to a joint effort program between the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, the University of Tasmania and volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia.
To ensure the best possible prospects of success in responding to the disease the commitment by the Tasmanian Government includes assistance to community groups, and individuals, to help mange-affected wombats.
If you are a community group or individual actively involved in first response efforts in caring for affected wombats, and have demonstrated experience in treating mange-infected wombats, you may be eligible to apply for the reimbursement of consumable costs incurred in such treatment (up to a total of $3,000).
Please complete the form above, providing all requested information, and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reimbursements will be considered for eligible recipients for costs incurred from 13 March 2017.
To be considered eligible for any reimbursement of costs, applicants will first need to have obtained the appropriate permits, including a Mange Management Incorporated APVMA sub-permit and any Nature Conservation Act permit/s to take and or possess wombats.
Applicants are also advised that they are required to retain their receipts for a period of two years.
How can I help?
There are many ways you can help:
- Report observations of injured wombats or wombats with mange to DPIPWE by calling 6165 4305 or via email email@example.com
- Treat mange affected wombats in your area – contact DPIPWE
Pole and Scoop Permit Application Form (185Kb)
- Drive carefully in “wombat country” to reduce the number of wombats killed or injured by cars.
- Use non-lethal methods to manage wombats on agricultural land, including “wombat gates” to allow their passage through fences, while excluding wallabies from grazing on pastures and crops
- Prevent dogs from roaming in areas where wombats occur.
Other Information Sources