Mange in Bobcats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Mange is a skin condition that affects various animals, including bobcats. It’s an issue that’s not just isolated to the individual animal but can have more extensive repercussions on the entire ecosystem. In the interest of creating a world where all wild cats live free and healthy, let’s dive into understanding mange in bobcats.
The primary cause of mange in bobcats is mites. These microscopic parasites burrow into the skin of the animal, leading to severe irritation and other complications. However, the most common factor that makes bobcats susceptible to mange is the ingestion of rodents poisoned by rodenticides. These poisons weaken the bobcat’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to mange and other diseases.
- Hair loss, particularly around the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Crusted skin
- Visible discomfort, like constant scratching
- Weakness and lethargy
- Reduced hunting capability
Treatment involves administering medications that kill the mites and provide relief from the symptoms. It also requires supportive care like proper hydration and nutrition. However, treatment is often complicated because of the weakened state of the animal, especially if it has ingested rodenticide.
Necessity for Survival
Quick intervention is crucial for the survival of a bobcat affected by mange. Without treatment, the animal can suffer from secondary infections, dehydration, and eventually death.
- Treated: Recovery is possible, but it may take time for the animal to regain its full hunting capabilities.
- Untreated: Chronic skin issues, secondary infections, and potentially fatal outcomes.
The Rodenticide Issue
Rodenticides not only kill rodents but have an inadvertent domino effect on animals higher up in the food chain, like bobcats. This is a significant issue we need to address collectively.
Humane Methods for Rodent Control
Instead of using poison, consider traps or natural deterrents to deal with mice and rats. Even better, be supportive of wild bobcat populations in residential areas. They are natural predators and can help control the rodent population in a more ecological manner.
Pia & Venkman Arrive with Mange
On May 19, 2021 Big Cat Rescue took in two 6 month old bobcat kittens who were found covered in mange in South Florida. The Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida originally rescued the pair and gave them initial treatment. They were named Pia and Venkman and were housed in quarantine in the Rehab Hospital until the mange cleared up with a course of Ivermectin and antibiotics for any underlying infection.
Because mange is easily treatable they were moved to an outdoor run within and few weeks. The pair were able to be released back to the wild on November 17, 2021 just six months after arrival. They could have been released earlier, but the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission wanted to collar and track them, so we had to wait until they were of sufficient size to carry the collars. Find out more about them at: https://bigcatrescue.org/pia-venkman-bobcats/
Some bobcats, like Poseidon, pictured at the top, arrived too late to be saved. Many of the calls Jamie Veronica Murdock gets for bobcats are because people have found a mange covered bobcat who has appeared out of nowhere and seems to have come to them for help. It’s a bizarre, yet reoccurring theme, where a bobcat becomes too weakened to survive on their own and recognizes that humans may be inclined to summon help. There is no way to know how many die from this preventable, and easily curable condition however.
Mange in bobcats is a complex issue, but one that serves as a strong example of how interconnected our ecosystem really is. If we want to work towards a world where all wild cats live free, we need to take steps to address these kinds of issues in a humane and thoughtful way.