baby fox with severe case of mange

Fox Healing Area

Last year Duluth’s Park Point neighborhood saw an outbreak of mange in its red fox population. Five foxes were admitted to Wildwoods at the same time (and those were just the ones we could catch). Outbreaks like this are uncommon and we weren’t prepared to take in that many foxes at once. Our enclosure was too small for them to be comfortable so they were separated and put in enclosures that weren’t designed for foxes.

This year we’ve already had two young foxes admitted with mange from the same area so we know what’s coming. We urgently need to build a new fox enclosure before fall arrives. Please help!

Mange is a parasitic infection of the Sarcoptes scabei mite, which burrows into the skin and deposits eggs. All the burrowing, crawling and egg hatching causes extreme itchiness and as the afflicted victim scratches more and more, the skin breaks open and becomes susceptible to further infection. The immune system becomes compromised, which opens the door for further parasitic infestation from tape, hook and roundworms who deprive the victim of much needed nutrition. Mange-ridden animals often die from starvation or exposure to the elements as their fur falls out and they lose the ability to thermo-regulate. For this reason, an animal who has mange when winter sets in will certainly not survive. This is why it’s so important we build a new fox enclosure immediately!

baby fox with severe mange. The fur is matted and skin cracked, eyes swollen shut and too weak to eat

In later stages of the disease foxes with mange will often be found near buildings and people because that’s generally where the easy meals are, as well as shade or heat sources. There is no need to fear the fox, but care should be taken to avoid direct contact with the animal or its bedding, as the mites can be transferred to humans (the good news for humans is that the mite eggs won’t hatch, so treatment is fairly easy) and pets.

The treatment for a mange infestation takes weeks, even months, to complete depending on the severity of the infection. The anti-parasitic kills the mites, but it doesn’t kill the eggs, so treatment must be administered every few days to kill the hatched mites, and then again for the mites who hatched from the first round, then again for the second round, and so on. During this extended treatment all the foxes we’ll admit deserve to have a comfortable place to recover that’s safe from predators and where they’ll get guaranteed regular meals and proper nutrition. Please help us build this enclosure. Your tax-deductible donation will go straight to this project when you donate securely online here, or send a check made out to Wildwoods with “Foxes” in the memo line to 4009 W Arrowhead Rd, Duluth MN 55811.