by Clare Davis
Hidden Springs Wildlife Shelter
Photographs by Cath Horsefield & Garry Malzard
Treat or not?
As wildlife shelter operators, we are often called
upon to make difficult decisions - whether to destroy a perfectly beautiful wedge-tailed
eagle because it is missing an eye and therefore it may not be able to find its prey,
or whether to operate on a badly injured kangaroo, not knowing if the extensive treatment
will leave it unable to hop, or whether to treat a wombat with symptoms of last stages of mange.
This is a decision that I am asked to make frequently, so from twenty years experience and many mistakes
later, I have evolved my own policy and others have found it useful also.
First we have to understand sarcoptic mange. It is a parasite that takes advantage of an animal in a weakened state. Just
as worms will invade a sick or weakened horse, lice will be found on a sick bird, or coccidiosis in kangaroos etc. Although mange is very
contagious it certainly doesn't affect all animals that come into contact with it. So this indicates to me that when we come across a
wombat with mange we must look at why it has the mange.
I find there are two main groups of wombats that are susceptible to mange:
- The wombat that has been displaced either by overcrowding, therefore loss of habitat, loss of dominance due to old
age or illness.
- The very young wombat that has been separated from Mum for varying reasons and has had to survive on its own which
causes huge stress.