Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fox Returns Sick with Mange

I am starting this new post, with photos previous posted. If you prefer not to see a seriously ill fox, go no further than these first five photos.
I am writing this posting for two reasons. First, I think that it is appropriate to show that life for the animals in the Colvin Ron Habitat can be tough.
Second, I believe that this is an opportunity for wildlife education. Specifically, to discuss a fox infected with mange versus a fox with rabies.
These photos show a 120-day progression. In early October, this fox appeared healthy. In fact, I commented in a post that he looked healthy. By mid-November, even though he appeared to look (to me) healthy, he was beginning to stop and scratch himself. A sign of possible mange.
Here are three photos from the last week in January. Clearly, he is ill and in bad shape. I included the last photo to show his face as a comparison with the photos from October and November - this is the same fox. In the last photo, he did not stop and turn around to look at me - rather he stopped to bit at his shoulder.
After taking these photos, I again turned to the Web seeking an explanation. I would like to thank the National Fox Welfare Society for their photos of foxes with mange.
I would also like to thank the Wild Bunch Rehabilitation folks for their exaplanation of mange. Please visit their site. In fact, their information is so useful that I am repeating it below. Remember, you should not be approaching animals in the wild. Contact a local wildlife relief agency in you area.

Help! There's a fox outside during the day. What do I do?

Do you observe any of these behaviors?
>It is scratching, chewing or licking its skin.
>It has open sores or wounds.
>It has a bare tail, squinty eyes and/or a crusty film over mouth, eyes and nose.
>It moves slowly and often lies in one place for a long period of time.
>It appears thin, ragged and malnourished.
>It walks very slowly with stiff movements of hind legs.
>It is searching for food in daylight and close to humans and does not seem afraid.

Fact and Fiction about Foxes with Mange:
It is very common for individuals to believe that if they see a fox near their homes, looking or acting sick, that it must have rabies. 99% of the time this is not the case. The animal most likely is suffering from mange; a debilitating condition that causes severe scratching, open sores and loss of hair. The good news is that it is easily treatable.

Information to help you understand an animal with mange
>A fox with mange is very weak from an inability to hunt for food.
>They are tired and suffering from constant itching and burning sensations.
>Because they must eat they will venture close to homes looking for food. Pet food that is left outside is a frequent choice.
>The fox will not attack cats, dogs or children. Even under normal circumstances it is not aggressive. It will react however, if trying to be captured.
>They do not want to take up residence in your area permanently. If treated and allowed to recover they will move on.

What can you do?

>Stay calm and remember you are not in an unsafe situation.
>Call the Wildlife Rescue League at 703-440-0800. You will be put into contact with someone that can give you more information to handle your situation.
>Don’t attempt to capture the animal.
>Provide food and water for the animal - preferably in a safe quiet area.
>If being treated for mange, allow the fox to rest and heal in a place where you can monitor progress.
>Keep information available for neighbors that have questions or concerns.


  1. Woodchuck9:03 PM

    Very sad about the fox.

  2. Anonymous2:27 PM

    In Great Falls, I have 2 foxes (of 3 that I regularly see) with mange and one looks worse than your photos, but he started looking mangy last winter, so this has been afflicting him for awhile. I've been feeding both since they don't seem able to hunt well and are coming to my yard looking for pet and bird food (and compost). I just discovered I can treat them without capturing them. Here's a URL for treating mange in foxes with Ivermectin: I just ordered the drug and am hoping for the best for these beautiful animals.

  3. Great Falls - thansk for the comment. Please take a look at today's post on Glad you found the foxwoodrehab site. I had referenced that site in a posting after the one that you saw.

    Please let us know how your treatment of Ivermectin progresses. Post photos (or send them to me and I will post) if you have some.

    Also, would appreciate a general idea of the fox locations in Great Falls.

  4. Anonymous5:18 PM

    We see foxes fairly often in our yard in Vienna, off Cedar Lane, relatively near the bike trail. One that I've seen during the day has fairly severe mange... no fur left on its tail except an end tuft. I just found your blog while reading about mange.

  5. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Thanks for this. Found you when googling help for our "backyard fox" with mange (Alexandria/Franconia area). We're going to try the ivermectin and talk to the wonderful people at WRL.

  6. Anonymous2:26 AM

    I leave in DC near Rock Creek Park. Presently I am feeding two foxes who come into my front yard at night. Another fox, to whom I had become very attached and who used to fraternize in the front yard with my warrior tomcat Mambo, died last year from mange. It broke my heart. I would like to start giving these two foxes Ivermectin. Can anyone tell me please if it is really safe?

    Thank you.

  7. We r
    In new York state. Rochester.. there is a fox running neighborhood. Now do we get. Rid of him. There r 26 kids on our street

  8. We have had a fox with mange and a crippled back leg visiting us since August. We have been able to give him two rounds of Ivermectin and see improvement of healthy fur growing on the tip of his tail. We have been feeding him cat food (Beef & Vension) adding a High fatty acid supplement as we are trying to build him up & get him healthier for the cold winter and will continue to feed him. I have found recipes for feeding a heathy fox but am looking for a recipe that would help a sick/injured fox. The Preserve said to feed him some parboiled chicken thighs but I would like to provide him with added food nutrients.
    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.