With foxes living in closer quarters in urban areas, mange is unfortunately a common issue. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite which burrows into the skin causing intense itching. The fox then scratches causing fur loss, broken skin, and then secondary infections. Left untreated, this can become fatal. We are sometimes contacted by householders concerned that a fox with mange might ‘infect’ their dog. This is unlikely (the fox and dog would need either direct contact or to lay in the same place for some time) but the best solution to this concern is to treat the fox and eradicate the mites.
Mild mange #
Foxes with mild mange will have only lost fur on the tail and hip area, will have little or no ‘crustiness’ of the skin, no open wounds, and the eyes will be bright and clear.
For decades, wildlife rescue organisations have been providing a remedy which can be added to the food of foxes with mange. This has a certain degree of controversy attached as the remedy is homeopathic. Many people doubt the efficacy of homeopathy but, without getting into a wider discussion about homeopathy as a whole, all we can say is that we have seen this remedy work for literally hundreds of foxes. Some might suggest that the remedy itself does nothing but the extra food provided enables the fox to recover – maybe. But as long as the fox recovers, that’s all that really matters.
The remedy has the advantage that it is safe for all animals and cannot be overdosed. It is usually added to food every night for about two weeks. You can find further information and purchase the remedy on the following sites
Moderate or Severe Mange #
If the fur loss extends beyond the hindquarters, the skin is crusty or broken, or the eye lids swollen or oozing, the mange is more severe and the homeopathic treatment will likely not suffice. In this case, the fox needs to be given prescription medication. In theory this can be administered on-site as it’s a single dose treatment which can be given in food. But there are complications…
- the medication is only available from a veterinarian
- the target fox must consume the entire dose
- if the fox is pregnant or nursing, the babies could be harmed by the treatment
- if the medication is consumed by pets or other wildlife, they could be killed
If treating on site isn’t possible, the fox will need to be caught with a cage trap and admitted into a wildlife rescue for treatment. This is obviously a stressful experience and can lead to the death of cubs if it’s a nursing female so should be a last resort.
If your visitor has moderate or severe mange, please contact a wildlife rescue for help.
Multiple Foxes #
As foxes often live in groups, you may have multiple visiting foxes affected. If the mange is mild, you can distribute the mange remedy freely, adding it to multiple items of food and scattering it around, in order to ensure as many foxes as possible receive a dose. You don’t need to be concerned about overdosing or about other animals taking the food.
If the mange is more severe and requires veterinary treatment, this becomes more complicated. It would not be safe to put out multiple doses of this treatment as consuming too much could be harmful to the fox. In these cases, please seek advice from a local wildlife rescue.