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Old 03-12-2009, 11:22 AM
MindyS MindyS is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
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Default Scabies outbreak

I recently noticed that one of the squirrels in my yard had sarcoptic mange. So I targeted him/her and medicated her. Now every time I look at my feeder I see itchy squirrels. We live near a forrest, and we feed the squirrels so there are so many. Does anyone have advice for treating large populations of squirrels? It has to be bird friendly because my feeders are a popular spot for all kinds of birds, some are rare, and I don't want to risk them. Any ideas?
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:40 PM
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MissDolittle MissDolittle is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,813
Default Re: Scabies outbreak

Hi MindyS, welcome on board!

Since I don't know anything about treating adult wild squirrels, I went surfing and came up with this:

People can be taken aback by the sight of squirrels missing hair. This past winter, sightings of partially furred squirrels seemed to be more frequent than usual. Like many wildlife issues, the cause of hair loss in squirrels is not easy to answer and often results in more questions than answers. In most situations, hair loss does not impact populations of squirrels. However, individuals may be impacted during winter.

Most people assume, often incorrectly, that hair loss in squirrels is the result of mange, a disease caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the skin and are unseen by the naked eye. Hair loss attributed to the squirrel mange mite, Notoedres douglasi, has been reported in both fox and gray squirrels. Notoedric mange is different from sarcoptic mange. The latter, caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, occurs primarily among red foxes and coyotes. Questions exist regarding the host specificity of mange mites. In light of new evidence, some pathologists now believe that sarcoptic mange mites are not as host-specific as previously thought. However, notoedric mange mites appear to be more host-specific, and donít colonize non-hosts (like humans), although a few bites may occur. Transmission of notoedric manage to species other than squirrels has not been documented, including to canine and feline pets.

Symptoms of notoedric mange in squirrels includes loss of hair and dry, thickened and dark skin. Crust does not form on the skin in notoedric mange in squirrels like it does in sarcoptic mange in red fox. Mange is most commonly spread by direct animal to animal contact.

Treatment of adult squirrels with mange is generally not recommended because reinfection from their nest is likely. An adult squirrel can survive mange if in otherwise good condition. While mange can be fatal to squirrels as a result of exposure during the winter, full recovery is often observed in squirrels.

While mange is commonly presumed to be the culprit, most hair loss in squirrels is caused by a variety of superficial fungal diseases generally termed dermatophytoses. Hair from squirrels infected with fungal agents is typically broken off at the skin, leaving a fine stubble of short hairs. Damp weather is thought to play a role in some fungal outbreaks.

This past autumn was relatively wet for Indiana standards and may have contributed to the apparent observed increase of hair loss in squirrels this winter. Most animals will eventually gain an immune response and recover from the fungal infection without any apparent consequences.

Some hair loss in gray and flying squirrels is thought to be an inherited condition where the hair follicles are non-functional or absent, although studies confirming this have not been done. These squirrels have normal, but bare skin.

The next time you see a squirrel with hair loss, donít become alarmed. In most cases, the hair will return with no apparent ill affects to the squirrel, other than perhaps some embarrassment and name calling among his squirrel friends.

For more information about squirrel hair loss or other wildlife diseases, check out these resources.

* Davidson, W. R., and V. F. Nettles. 1997. Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases in the Southeastern United States, 2nd edition
* Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, (706) 542-1741,
* Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
* Indiana Wildlife Conflicts Information Hotline
* Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Manual,1607,7...220---,00.html
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