Home > Trappers education > You are here: Mange, the ugly death of a beautiful animal

Mange, the ugly death of a beautiful animal
By Keith Dewars*

The real world is an extreme place.  Many people simply do not realize that.  They prefer the Disney-ized version of nature where all animals get along with each other in harmony.  While there are uncountable marvels in nature there are also many harsh realities.  One of these is disease.  Diseases are not humane and they do not kill instantly.  An animal may suffer for weeks, months or even years before dying.  This article talks about one such disease called mange.

A microscopic mite called sarcoptes scabei causes sarcoptic mange.  These mites are not insects; they are in fact more closely related to spiders.  They are very tiny and cannot be seen by the naked eye.  After mating, an adult female mite will burrow into the skin, laying her eggs along the way.  The eggs will hatch in three to ten days, after which the larva will crawl onto the skin’s surface, molt into a nymph and eventually transform into an adult.  They will then mate and the female will burrow into the skin to start the process all over again.

The burrowing into the skin and movements of the mites are extremely itchy.  The host animal will scratch itself to the point where large patches of fur are lost and open wounds and sores will appear, providing an open door for infection.  The animal may suffer for weeks or months before eventually dying from exposure, infection or starvation brought on by the disease.  Believe me, if you have ever seen an animal with mange you will wish for a way to ease that animal's suffering.

Mange is highly contagious and is passed from host to host, thus it is not uncommon when furbearer populations are high and animals have exceeded the carrying capacity of their habitat.  Trapping of furbearers will not totally eliminate mange or any other disease, but regulated trapping helps to even out “boom and bust” population cycles and is highly effective in ensuring a healthy furbearer population.

Here are some actual photos taken by trappers showing animals that have suffered the dreadful effects of mange.  WARNING:  These photos are harsh and very graphic, but then again so is nature.

(Click on a photo to view a larger picture with a description)



Special thanks to Mr. Pedersen and others on Trapperman.com for the use of their photos.

*Keith Dewars is a freelance writer, avid outdoorsman and owner/webmaster of Malum Internet Properties. He can be contacted at keithd@maluminternet.com.

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